Vickers Private Code, ca. 1910

Title does not appear in volume, but is derived from internal evidence (phrase content for guns, gunboats, guncotton, gunpowder, submarines, terror, torpedoes, (muzzle) velocities); and the reference to a "Vickers Private Code" on loose sheet slipped in.

801 pages. 11 inches wide, 9 inches tall, 2 1/2 inches thick. heavy , quarter leather and cloth on stiff thick board.

Date probably 1910 or later, judging from nature of codewords as well as provision of phrase selections for "Year 1910" through "Year 1925."

Slipped into volume are two loose sheets : (1) "figure card" (4 x 6 inches) showing a grid of figure pairs 00-99 that can be condensed into vowel-consonant pairs by locating their vowel from AIEIO at top, and their consonant from those (minus U and Q) arrayed at left; and (2) thin sheet 8 x 13 inches "VICKERS PRIVATE CODE CONDENSER" explaining use of the figure card.

This copy gold-stamped 20 at upper right corner of front cover.


As originally conceived, 10L codewords for each phrase were formed from a root (at left of phrase) and a terminal, being the "page indicator" at upper right. Thus, for
80249   Eroma   A different thing,
Eroma plus walet yields the euphonious (but inefficient) 10L codeword EROMAWALET. The condenser does away with this, by providing means by which two figure groups (5F + 5F) are combined to yield a pronounceable 10L codeword.

The phrase selections are rich — 10,000 > 89,999 figures, blanks only from 89,673, and 100 or so (one full page, and remainder of last page) following each alphabetical phrase section including even Q. So around 75,000 phrases in all.

The "verbatim" exhaustiveness of the phrases suits this code to reports more than mundane communications about orders, logistics and inventory. It might have been used in connection with catalogues. Vestigial codewords notwithstanding, its phrase sequences make this code among those most suited to ruminative/reiterative, facet-turning poetic invention.