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Title: Masquerade

Author: Kit Williams

Year: 1997 in UK (1980 USA)

Prize: Jewelled Golden Hare

To claim: Burried treasure in UK, solve the clues to find where to dig.

Closing Date: None

Claimed: Feb 1982

Type of book: A4 portrait colour picture and story book. Each painting had a border contaning short riddles or sayings.

Description: In August 1979 Kit Williams buried in the ground an exquisite jewel and set treasure-hunters the world over looking for the golden hare by concealing the clues to its whereabouts in his book Masquerade. Not just in Britain, but from New York to Tokyo, close on two million readers joined in the search for the answer to the book's master riddle. "The treasure is as likely to be found by a bright child of ten with an understanding of language, simple mathematics and astronomy as it is to be found by an Oxford don."

The book came about after a Gallery owner suggested that artist Kit Williams should illustrate a children's book. Kit took offence at being asked to illustrate someone else's story, so decided to write his own, and make every reader study his paintings until every last detail was revealed. What better way than to hide clues to burried treasure? Not only that, but Kit hand made the jewelled hare himself, which at the time of burrial was valued at £5000.

Kit Williams published a coded clue in Christmas 1980 Sunday Times magazine, which looking back was a BIG clue when you know the solution.

The hare was dug up in Feb 1982 by someone who had solved most of the mystery, but had not totally completed it. A couple of other hunters had solved the master riddle, but were waiting for the right time of the year to attempt to dig it up - they were too late.

Later in 1982, a small paperback edition was released, including the full solution (see below). The text of the story it turned out was not required for the actual solution.

A year or two later, Bamber Gascoigne (who had been the witness to the original burrial) published a book "Quest for the Golden Hare", in which tales of hunters' experiences were told.

Full Solution: Begin by connecting the colours of letters on the paper pinned up above the bell in the Isaac Newton picture to the numbers in the magic square in the Penny-Pockets picture: 1 equals red, 2 yellow, 3 green, 4 blue and so on. The colours on the Penny-Pockets apron confirm this. The Isaac Newton puppets were the key. Using their colour sequence, you will see that the string from the red ring of the right hand goes to the longest finger on the left hand of the puppet; the yellow ring connects with the left big toe; the green ring goes to the right longest finger; the blue to the right big toe. Do the same, in the same sequence, with rings on Isaac Newton's left hand and the girl puppet. Behind Isaac Newton all the puppets have rings hanging from feet, fingers or fins. The girl puppet is pointing to her eyes, the other puppets are hanging from their eyes, and it says on the title page, "To solve the hidden riddle, you must use your eyes, and find the hare in every picture that may point you to the prize." So eyes are the pointers.
Draw lines from the left eye through left longest finger, from left eye through left big toe, right eye through right longest finger, right eye through right big toe - to the centre of letters in the border. Apply the method to all creatures (except those shown with black rings in the Newton picture) as they appear in all the pictures in turn, where eyes and hands or paws or fins are visible. To get letters in the correct order use a hierarchy of men, women, children, hares, then other animals, birds, fish or frogs.
If you arrange these words and phrases one above another, you will see the initials spell CLOSE BY AMPTHILL.
The magic square on the sand in the last picture is the final confirmer. Apply the Penny-Pockets square to it and 1 is 10, 2 is 4/6, 3 is 4, and soon. This refers to the number of letters that make up the word or phrase derived from each picture.

Personal opinions: My experiences with this book were very enjoyable (apart from not solving it!) and educational. Many many hours were spent identifying locations depicted in the paintings etc. When the solutions was published I was still happy that there was a systematic method for reading the solution, and that this method itself was described, however carefully concealed, in the book too.

If only all had been as good as this one...

Other information: The winner of the Masquerade hunt sold the jewel hare to a software company to put it up as a prize for solving a two-part computer program hunt. The Hareraiser hunt was released late 1984. Computer games on home computers such as Sinclair Spectrums, BBCs, and Amstrads were popular at this time, but largely speaking the players of these games were not the same people who were interested in the Golden Hare jewel. I don't know if it was ever re-claimed.
I only purchased part one (Prelude) of the game, which was that bad that I didn't bother with part two (if it was ever released?).

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