Unsolved 1982 New Orleans treasure hunt
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  1. #1
    BJG
    BJG is offline
    gb
    Feb 2012
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    Relic Hunting

    Unsolved 1982 New Orleans treasure hunt

    Hi all -

    I've been researching an old unsolved treasure-hunt from 1982 called "The Secret" by Byron Preiss (paperback). There's a theory that there's a unique decorated ceramic box buried somewhere in New Orleans, and I have an idea it might be near the entrance to Louis Armstrong park. I'm in the UK, but I was hoping to contact someone local who might be interested in trying to find it.

    Byron buried twelve of these around the US , but only two were ever recovered. There used to be a jewel prize for finding them, though he's not around any more so there's just the box. It would be an intruiging souvenir though. (They were made by the New York sculptress JoEllen Trilling.)

    I've put together some notes on this puzzle here:

    http://www.lemontiger.co.uk/images/m...neworleans.pdf

    Is there anyone in New Orleans who might be interested in taking a look next to that arch to see if there's a spot where something could have been buried...? (I'm not sure how much this area has changed since 1982, or what flood damage there might have been at this location.)

    Ben
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  2. #2
    us
    When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro...I am a wealth of mostly trivial information.....

    Jan 2011
    Formerly New Orleans.. Now Pueblo Co
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    Re: Unsolved 1982 New Orleans treasure hunt

    Hi Ben, I just read your info, and I'd be interested in checking into it a bit more. A lot of things have been changed there over the years, our last mayor had very ambitious plans for the park which never seemed to come together. When I get a chance I'll see if I can find any period (1982ish) photos to compare it to. The only problem is I have no idea how I could pin point it if it is there, no metal and possibly 3 feet deep will make it a real challenge.

    It's a really cool story, and it would definitely be cool to find, so hopefully others will be interestd as well, and maybe one of us will find it.

    Ken
    45th_Johnny likes this.
    "That's me, on the beach side combing the sand, metal meter in my hand, sporting a pocket full of change"...... NOFX

    I collect military relics, mainly German and American, but interested in others as well, pre 1945 .. Always interested in adding to my collection

    some of my antique photo collection : http://forgottonimages.tumblr.com/



  3. #3
    BJG
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    Feb 2012
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    Re: Unsolved 1982 New Orleans treasure hunt

    Cheers Ken...somewhere beside the Armstrong Arch is my best guess (as explained in the above PDF file), though I don't know how much this area has changed since 1982. I can't get near enough on Google Maps to take a proper look. Out of the two found casques, one was buried beside a fence, and the other beside a wall. The Armstrong Arch has a low wall next to it. The picture might have a disguised version of something which can be seen at this location; eg, something resembling this pole. It would be great to get some photos if anyone passes that way.

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  4. #4
    us
    When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro...I am a wealth of mostly trivial information.....

    Jan 2011
    Formerly New Orleans.. Now Pueblo Co
    Garrett Ace 350 and Propointer
    4,981
    3549 times
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    Re: Unsolved 1982 New Orleans treasure hunt

    Ben, If you use google earth, you can zoom in fairly close to the park, and using the historical imagery feature you can see the park at different dates as far back as 1998, it shows a lot of changes in the park.
    45th_Johnny likes this.
    "That's me, on the beach side combing the sand, metal meter in my hand, sporting a pocket full of change"...... NOFX

    I collect military relics, mainly German and American, but interested in others as well, pre 1945 .. Always interested in adding to my collection

    some of my antique photo collection : http://forgottonimages.tumblr.com/



  5. #5
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I have a solution for this New Orleans site, anyone interested in details, please let me know in a PM.

    Also, I want to thank Ben for starting this thread. I would post my theory but knowing my ideas are different than Ben's I didn't want to infringe, which is why I've PM'd a few users who have already expressed some interest. Whatever positive approach is needed to make a successful recovery is my goal. I've done enough research to know the city does grant permits to dig in the neutral ground especially if a citizen is prepared to plant something new. I'm hoping someone local with experience or knowledge about this kind of activity might join the discussion.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Erexere; May 07, 2013 at 10:01 PM.
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  6. #6
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Not discussing my theory here at this time, but here's one of the poem verses and the illustration it may go with, both need to be used to figure out the location of the clay pot (casque).

    At the place where jewels abound
    Fifteen rows down to the ground
    In the middle of twenty-one
    From end to end
    Only three stand watch
    As the sound of friends
    Fills the afternoon hours
    Here is a sovereign people
    Who build palaces to shelter
    Their heads for a night!
    Gnomes admire
    Fays delight
    The namesakes meeting
    Near this site.



    The only rules are: no digging in graveyards or flower beds or in dangerous places.
    Last edited by Erexere; May 08, 2013 at 05:56 PM.
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  7. #7

    Dec 2013
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Hello Ben, Ken, and Erexere,

    My name is Sam and I have recently moved to New Orleans. I am an avid puzzle-obsessive, treasure hunting, games-of-all-kind fiend.
    So let's figure this out. I am studying the city, and it's landmarks, and am very interested in figuring this thing out.

    I would really love to hear any and all theories, and I am not opposed to digging, or getting permission to dig in the hopes of finding the New Orleans Casque. So, it seems there are differing opinions on which verse applies to New Orleans. Some people seem to think verse 2, and others verse 7. If you would like to PM me so as not to share publicly your well honed observations, please do. I have my own theories on where it might be located, and am working slowly on figuring out how to go about digging in a few different spots, but so far, I haven't felt the exact "AHA" moment, where I feel certain I am digging in the right spot. And it has to be very much the right spot, especially here in NOLA, where 2-3 feet down is going to be straight into mud/water, and will not be easy.

    So, here I am! Your New Orleans hands-on scout. I live about 2 minutes from the entrance to Louie Armstrong park. I also am close to St. Charles Exchange Hotel, and Jackson Square. Thoughts?

    S.
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  8. #8
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I have made a lot of changes to my theory for the NOLA location. I'm not really sure enough to say I have the exact right spot, but I am sure I've found proof of the general area, give or take 5 meters. If anyone local is still interested in verifying the way some of the objects of reference line up, please let me know. If theres a satisfying visual match, then we can talk about digging, but I wont recommend digging until everything else is verified or ruled out.
    45th_Johnny likes this.

  9. #9
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Image 7 Verse 2: New Orleans

    At the place where jewels abound
    Fifteen rows down to the ground
    In the middle of twenty-one
    From end to end
    Only three stand watch
    As the sound of friends
    Fills the afternoon hours
    Here is a sovereign people
    Who build palaces to shelter
    Their heads for a night!
    Gnomes admire
    Fays delight
    The namesakes meeting
    Near this site.


    I underlined a key set of lines which has been discussed previously, but never settled as far as the conclusion for what motivated Preiss to make the selection. What is known is it can be found in the book Abroad in America (1976), in the form of a quotation from Domingo Faustino a former president of Argentina. During a visit in New Orleans he compares the dome of the St. Charles Hotel to that of St. Peter's Basillica in Italy. Has Preiss only selected this obscure reference as a colorful way to talk about New Orleans, or a way to hint at a specific sovereignty? Perhaps it should be taken as a reference to the Superdome (1975). Actually, I don't think it's at all obvious, the most important point of this quotation is to discover how it relates to New Orleans, but to also consider it's connection to South America and it's reference to an Italian landmark. I say it's important, though not really critical, since we've learned that loose approaches to the puzzle and some luck managed to unearth cask's in Chicago and Cleveland.

    With all do respect to the OP, I think the approach to these puzzles must be redefined or at least constantly reassessed. As it is in most cases, yes, our assumptions made over generic shapes are likely wrong, so a circle of the moon in image 7 doesn't have to represent the Superdome from an aerial perspective. We know the internet/Google wasn't a resource for Preiss, so we have to always exercise caution as we rely on such tools. I've had some success purchasing historic maps (made and printed in 1980) from eBay just to see if shapes or landmarks like the Superdome are actually presented in the same way as compared to our modern Googlemaps approach.

    So we know to be careful about what assumptions we make. The worst assumption though, is to think these puzzles are poorly designed. We don't have to like his methods, but Preiss really had his **** together. People who can't comprehend their own stupidity or have to call their mommy for permission to borrow a shovel and the family car need to stop making excuses about how badly they think this hunt was designed. The conclusions I've made after taking a hard look at what I've been doing wrong have yielded some serious insight about how Preiss made connections. Ultimately he provides a “treasure map”, though his way of doing it requires our strict attention to the details.

    In the New Orleans puzzle we see plainly the crescent shaped turqoise resting on the top of the clock face. We know the Litany of the Jewels preamble links the Fays of France to the turquoise and New Orleans is one of the best places to make a France connection, but that's where the cultural context seems to end, because we know an Argentinian talked about a palace like dome in NOLA as it compared to St. Peter's in Rome, Italy. We also have the face of Louis Armstrong, a great Dixieland Jazz musican.

    Cultrually, this is all over the map. Compare this to the Cleveland puzzle which skirted many different cultural gardens, included a visual reference to the Italian fountain, and then to small plot inside the Grecian Gardens. In Chicago, we don't see anything especially Celtic about the emerald's location in Grant Park; someone once mentioned that the St. Patty's Day parade goes through Grant Park, so maybe there's that. I use to think the cultural connection for each gem was the main concern, I've since learned it's somewhat important, but not necessarily the dominant or key component in the final piece of the puzzle.

    I think image 7 is a lot like Chicago's image where the giant wears a hat. The hat is a castle with a large windmill that looks very much like the Chicago's Historic Water Tower. It's then a main road straight to an intersection next to Grant Park. Image 7 has a hand holding up a face mask. The mask fits the face of a statue of Louis Armstrong in Louis Armstrong Park. Many attempts in the past have been made to find a spot in that park or adjoining Congo Square. Many significant changes to Louis Armstrong Park have rendered it pointless to search there any longer, but that doesn't matter since I'm taken the hunt to adjoining Basin Street in the direction of the Superdome from Louis Armstrong Park where the city places three statues in 1957 in what was called the Gardens of the Americas, a tribute to Central and South American people and commerce. The line “Only three stand watch” fits perfectly if anything about this hunt involves finding statues and the quote from Sarmiento might tie in cultrually to this area as well.



    The area near the statue of Francisco Morazan is key. It is across the street from a historic cemetery named after a King of France, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. I've previously outlined some visual correlations comparing the hem of the armsleeve in the image to the pant hem on the Morazan statue. A large circle and triangle inscribed fits the shape of a clock face. A possible connection to a triangle may be communicated symbolically by taking the lat/long number pair and adding in a third number that would make the numbers of a triangle. 90 is well known as a corner of a right triangle. The rule that the other two angles must add up to 90 is also well known. 90 - 29 = 61. I believe the number 19 on the clock is flipped 180 degrees to disguise the fact that it is ambiguously a 61.

    The word PRESERVATION is positioned with all both clock hands pointing at the V. I believe this relates to the namesakes riddle. Morazan represents Honduras in Central America. Being central, it is fair to argue that is where north meets south, therefore the namesakes, North and South America meet in the middle at Central America. The Americas are the namesakes of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. V is for Vespucci?

    The clock points at the number XII. This is important when looking for a specific rooftop belonging to Tomb No. 12. Tomb No. 12 is the Bergamini family of Italy. This tomb can be easily seen from OUTSIDE the cemetery when standing near the Morazan statue.

    The verse lines involving the number 15 and 21 leave it up to interpretation as to what they pertain. Many people have counted lamps, bricks, trees, benches, etc. I thought for the longest time they had to do with tombs. That was wrong. If you look at it most literally, since a row is just a number of things in a row and 15 of those things in a row in this case are paces. The same goes for 21. "In the middle" is the same as saying where two things meet, and so I discovered by using an aerial measure tool to approximate that the perpendicular distance from the wall of the cemetery to a spot in the neutral ground of Basin Street is 21 meters (or paces) and that's also 15 meters away from the Morazan statue in the direction of 3 o'clock. Here's the basic vectors put together,



    I may not be explaining every single detail in this image, but I think I've got the verse nailed down. The last couple of things I might have an explaination for are the floating figure and a hidden shape in the clock hands design and what looks like a little contour shape match to the small statue that sits on top of the Bergamini Tomb No. 12. Compare a famous Italian statue of Hermes/Mercury and his caduceus. Note: Hermes is the psychopomp who leads the dead to the underworld.





    We don't have the wings of the caduceus to make the partial match a perfect fit, but notice how the top of the clock is cut off in the image. Many grandfather clocks share a design feature that's known as a "swan's neck" which includes the symbolic shape of a bird's wings. This is a standard motif among pediment shapes in architecture. Many of the tomb's in the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 share these motifs,









    Gnomes admire and fays delight because this area along Basin Street is the Gardens of the Americas. Wouldn't we also be delighted if some goon's near New Orleans gave this theory a try?
    45th_Johnny likes this.

  10. #10

    Oct 2015
    1
    1 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Erexere,
    I like this theory quite a bit and have frequented NOLA and the landmarks you point out. My first theory was that these clues somehow involve the St Louis Cemetery but have never been able to take it as far as you did. I will be back in NOLA December 12,13, and 14, 2015. I would be more than happy to check out this site. I doubt that without permission I could get to dig, but maybe we could work something out with the city?? Hope to hear back from you soon. Cheers
    45th_Johnny likes this.

  11. #11
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    bcain204, thanks for your interest. The solution I've presented is one of my favorites and currently I have nothing to add. My theory has some weakspots, and I think there's still more to figure out. Please retrace my steps and see how it checks out for you when you're on site. As far as I know, somebody has already checked the spot. I can't say for sure that they did a complete dig, but I'll defer to their attempt, and for whatever reasons, maybe they didn't find the spot suitable as a location. Digging is frowned upon by the city, that's for sure, but if you're looking for permission to plant a shrub, I think the city would be accommodating.

    I wrestle with the idea that my approach to the puzzles is too on the fringe. I came to some really fascinating conclusions about this puzzle as it applies to Italy, specifically the relationship France had to Italy at the time of King Louis XII in 1499 (a time which might be indicated if you militarize the hand that's almost at three o'clock). I think there's a pacing problem that needs to be worked out very carefully. I feel strongly that 21 and 15 paces are involved, but from where to where exactly and how precisely they come together at a 90 degree spot is entirely up to the person on the site.

    Eric
    45th_Johnny likes this.

  12. #12
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    To anyone concerned, I have a few adjustments to my theory which brings things to a spot different by a couple meters from what I had been thinking. PM me if you're planning on being on site.
    45th_Johnny likes this.

  13. #13
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I'm running on visual estimations and relying on Google Maps here, but this is looking better now that I see some reasonable evidence to support each piece of the puzzle:

    1) Indicators of Tomb No. 12: clock time is 12, child statue on tomb is sad (blue), floating figure looks like Hermes, contour of the side of clock looks close to contour of weeping statue

    2) Indicators of Morazan: PRES of Centeral America (where namesakes of Amerigo Vespucci meet), triangle in circle looks similar to shaded crescent of moon on clock, hem of pants fits the reversed hem of arm sleeve, one of only three standing statues along Basin street, from end to end

    3) Midsummers Day = June 24th = 6/24. 6/24 is a ratio of 1/4 or one-quarter. The estimation of distance shows that 19 paces is the distance from Morazan's base to the intersection perpendictular to the line with Weeping statue. Turn 90 degrees, like the knight chess piece and walk a quarter of that distance further.

    I have two dig spots to consider. The meaning of "In the middle of 21" is still something of a mystery to me.

    Last edited by Erexere; Dec 31, 2015 at 10:42 AM.
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  14. #14
    us
    Ray

    Jul 2012
    New Orleans burb
    At-Pro, Fisher F2
    433
    130 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Your October post
    "Some goon's near New Orleans"
    Really?
    45th_Johnny likes this.

  15. #15
    us
    May 2013
    Eugene, Oregon
    32
    25 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    If you're asking why I used the word 'goon', I can explain. Most people would assume it means some kind of gang member. I was hopeful that it would just be a friendly or colloquial term for a 'treasure hunter' like the title of the film "Goonies". It's a silly movie.


    Here's another visual set like the clockface. It looks like a rectangle drawn into quarters leads to the dig spot.

    Last edited by Erexere; Jan 05, 2016 at 02:07 AM.
    45th_Johnny likes this.

 

 
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