The Masquerade Armchair Treasure Hunt and Solution
Masquerade is an illustrated storybook created by Kit Williams and was published in 1979. The book included an armchair treasure hunt and is often said to be the forerunner for treasure hunts of its kind. For instance, numerous books, like the current armchair treasure hunt Fandango, have since followed and were inspired by Masquerade’s release; they contain clues for finding a hidden treasure.
The book Masquerade can still be enjoyed as a children’s tale all on its own, but included within its text and images were hidden clues for finding a real buried treasure (since found). The buried Prize was a Jeweled Golden Hare valued at around £5000. The treasure related to William’s story about the Moon falling in love with the Sun and how the Moon asked Jack Hare to deliver a gift to the Sun. This gift, however, during Jack’s travels, was lost. Where this gift was lost is where searchers would find the real treasure.
The Masquerade hunt involved reading the story, looking at the illustrations, and determining clues which would instruct a searcher for where the Golden Hare was buried. The hunt ended in a bit of a scandal about two years later when Ken Thomas (real name Dugald Thompson) unearthed the casket containing the Jeweled Hare by NOT successfully solving the ‘puzzle within the book’, but allegedly by gaining connections and extra information for where it was hidden through Kit Williams and his ex-girlfriend.
Mike Barker and John Rousseau had, however, actually solved the location for the Jeweled Hare the way it was intended almost at the same time ‘Thomas’ lay claim to it. It is unfortunate these two physic teachers didn’t come away with the treasure, but they are credited today with discovering the true solution first.
The Solution for Masquerade began with realizing the method used to find a hidden Riddle. This Riddle, once understood, would then lead a searcher straight to the Treasure’s exact location.
Clues in the book hinted on how to find the Riddle. One of the main clues was a line on the opening page which stated, “To solve the hidden riddle, you must use your eyes, and find the hare in every picture that may point you to the prize.”
With the help of a numbered magic square on one page (Penny Pocket page), and matching the numbers to a colored square grid on another page (Isaac Newton page), searchers were able to deduce a sequence on how to draw lines from eyes of characters in the book’s images.
Lines from the Left Eye through the Left Longest Finger, Left Eye through Left Longest Toe, Right Eye through Right Longest Finger, and Right Eye through Right Longest Toe, to letters in the bordering frame of the images provided words or phrases from each image. Together these words formed the Riddle for Masquerade. It was:
Catherines Long finger Over Shadows Earth Buried Yellow Amulet Midday Points The Hour In Light of Equinox Look you.
The first letter of each phrase given from the images yielded CLOSEBYAMPTHILL.
Close by Ampthill confirmed the Riddle’s solution meant that the treasure was buried near the Catherine of Aragon’s Cross in Ampthill Park, and at noon on the equinox it would cast a shadow giving the exact spot to dig.
There were lots of other clues, hints, and confirmers for the location of the treasure to discover within the Masquerade book than just those mentioned above. But ultimately, a person needed only to draw lines from eyes through longest digits to pinpoint letters in the border, form and solve the riddle to then go dig up the Buried Hare and win the prize.
The armchair hunt inspired many to search for treasure and enjoy the adventures the chase provided. And it inspired many other treasure hunts to be created and be enjoyed today.
Read about the Top Ten Armchair Treasure Hunts going on currently and get in on the adventures. (This list is continually updated as some are solved and new ones are created)
Get Your Quest on with MW!
Follow MW on Social Media: