A 200-Year-Old Riddle Is Waiting for You

I came across this interesting item a little while back (click for large image):

It's a manuscript riddle, apparently written at Mount Vernon (maybe) to commemorate a celebration of American Independence. It's probably from sometime around 1812, since the riddle is written on the verso of a published anti-War-of-1812 resolution of the Providence Federal Republicans dated 8 April 1812:

It's easy to imagine the riddle's author grabbing a nearby scrap of paper, essentially a piece of political ephemera that you wouldn't have thought twice about recycling at the time, and penning the riddle on the back.

As far as I know, this is a riddle that hasn't been read—or solved—in a very long time, which is where you come in. If you'd like to contribute to the transcription, just visit:http://pplspc.org/digital/scripto/transcribe/7/7 and click on the "edit" link next to "Current Page Transcription." I got the first few lines started, beginning with the information at the top and then the first few lines of the riddle:

In the Creation I was made
And bound by cord, into my bed

You can use some basic html formatting, for instance to create horizontal rules (<hr />) or strike through a line (<del>), for instance. Uncertain or illegible portions can go in brackets, with a guess or just a question mark ([?]). And if you have any difficulty with the page, you can just contact me.

I'm looking forward to finding out what the riddle says, and, even better, what the solution is. And there might even be a prize for the first person to solve it.

jgoffin's picture
Jordan Goffin

Special Collections Librarian Jordan Goffin has been mining the wonders in the Library’s Special Collections since early 2011. If you’d like to stop in and spend some time with the historic and noteworthy books, manuscripts and ephemera at PPL, contact him by email at jgoffin@provlib.org or by phone at 401.455.8021. Also, visit the Notes for Bibliophiles blog (http://pplspcoll.wordpress.com/) to read more about the exciting materials in Special Collections and to keep up with events and announcements.


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