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Title: The Golden Key

Author: Don Shaw

Year: 1982

Prize: £50000

To claim: Dig up the token Golden Key, and claim the money from the publishers "The £50000 cash prize has been deposited in a Golden Key Investment Account with the Yorkshire Building Society"

Closing Date: None

Type of book: Narrow portrait, printed on brown recycled paper, looking a bit like old parchment.

Description: Another real burried treasure hunt, although the burried object (The Key) is only a token that leads to the prize money. The book is an unusual format, tall and thin, printed on brown recycled paper, looking a bit like old parchment. Largely text based around the story of a trip around the world by ship in the 16th century, but in the style of a collection of diary entries and documentation from such a voyage. Most facing pages contained just a single letter. Also included reproductions of maps, diagrams, and portraits "from research...National Geographic Society in Washington and the British Museum in London". The author, Don Shaw, is a playwright, and writes screenplay adaptations for television.
"All that the hunter needs to solve the mystery - and win a fortune - can be found in the nearest public library, if not in the home. It does not require a genius to lay claim to the treasure. Anyone with reasonable intelligence allied to resolution and determination is as likely to find the key as any university scholar"

Personal opinions: It all started well... As you can imagine, with a prize of £50000 in 1982, this is the one most of us mad treasure hunters were concentating on. Hardly any county in England we didn't visit. Never mind the "nearest library" bit, I went to the British Museum aswell!
\But then, oh dear, here goes.... It turned out that several people had tried to contact the publishers (William Maclellan Embryo Ltd Glasgow) about the puzzle, but were not having much joy. In November 1987 the Sunday Express reported "hunt for...Golden Key was called off yesterday". In March 1989, BBC radio had a "Punters" series (consumer watchdog type), and one listener, Stephen Shipp, brought up the Golden Key difficulties. That program, and other investigations, found that the publishers had been taken over by another company who weren't that happy with the book, and pointed all difficulties to the author. Don Shaw decided to call off the hunt as 5 years had passed without a winner, but then he had it pointed out to him that as there was no time limit in the original rules of the competition he could not legally do this, so the competition had to continue. He also admitted that he regretted writing the book as it had caused him and his family much hastle. Then he announced that he had transferred the rights to the book to a Mr Gordon Hook, and all claims relating to the key should be pointed to him. Mr Hook then announced that the key had been removed from its burial place and the puzzle was "on hold" again, and that there was no prize fund available. (I think I read somewhere that the £50000 deposit with the building society had been withdrawn by the publishers after the book was launched legally as it was their money). Mr Hook said he would now relaunch the book when the prize sponsors were found. Did he? No. Further contacts were made with the Mr Hook, but each time only hollow promises were made.

The phrase "this one stinks" comes to mind.

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