telegraphic codes and message practice
scanned code directory

religious / missions codes

The codes described here concern religious and missionary administration, and publishing. Hallner’s Scientific Dial Primer (1912) and Cole’s Complete Code for Metaphysicians are not administrative in nature, and might fairly be described as idiosyncratic.

This page is under construction, 18 July 2015.

note:     years link to the respective codes.


1912 The Scientific Dial Primer, Containing universal code elements of universal language, new base for mathematics, etc.Andrew Hallner, comp. San Francisco: Sunset Publishing
UC Berkeley
  Motto: Brevity, Simplicity, Legibility

157 + (3 table of contents, and index) The Scientific Dial contains:
200 one-syllable two-letter words.
2,525 one-syllable three-letter words.
8,000 two-syllable four-letter words; consisting of two vowels and two consonants.
12,000 in the second class of four-letter words.
adding another letter, as, Elana (1911) swells the list of words almost beyond calculation.

The Scientific Dial Primer is an idiosyncratic work of speculative coding, rather than a practical or even prototype telegraphic code. I see in it two main aspects and perhaps motivations: an interesting dial cipher system, and a phrase vocabulary that, in its exposition, ultimately takes leave of the code and becomes an independent work of episodic fiction. The first third of the book is devoted to the code/condenser, and its uses; the balance of the book is devoted to edifying and moralistic exchanges, imagined conversations, etc., under the headings Code Department, Travelers Code, Lovers' Code, Leap-Year Code, and Greetings.

The Dial itself is an evolution from the traditional clockface, a universal language understood by all. It is an indicator of time on a somewhat difference scale, also of quantity and quality, and also delving into mathematics and language. (p7)
It involves Five Radial Grand Divisions, a, e, l, o and u. These subjoin to one of 25 letters (excluding a) in the outer ringt, to yield ba, ca, da, be, ce, bu through yu — 100 figure values in all.

So far, the dial is something like a figure > letter condenser.

pages 62-63, Andrew Hallner, The Scientific Dial Primer (1912)
from photocopy of LC copy

In these pages (62-63, 66-67), simple code vocabulary gives way to conversational, homiletic sketches, some of these extended over several pages.

pages 66-67, Andrew Hallner, The Scientific Dial Primer (1912)
from photocopy of LC copy
TOC and index, Andrew Hallner, The Scientific Dial Primer (1912)
from photocopy of LC copy
Index, Andrew Hallner, The Scientific Dial Primer (1912)
from photocopy of LC copy

The heterogeneous nature of the content, can be discerned from the alphabetically-ordered index entries. One imagines the delight that Hallner might have taken, in compiling this thing!

Hallner (1846-1930) and his wife Ida had seven children — three sons and four daughters — and this reader suspects that a number of the photographs reproduced in the book, are of those children. At the time this code appeared, Hallner was 65 years old. He’d been a pastor in Nebraska and editor of a Swedish newspaper in Chicago. He served as the first pastor of a Swedish Evangelical church in Swedeburg (Nebraska? California), in 1876-86; he later lived in Kingsburg and in Turlock, California. A biographical sketch is found in George H. Tinkham, History of Stanislaus County California: With Biographical Sketches (1921), here.

N. Katerine Hayles examines Hallner’s Scientific Dial Primer in Chapter 5 (Technogensis in Action: Telegraph Code Books and the Place of the Human), pp 163-170 of her How We Think : Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (2012). Hayles understands this code as an instance of the tensions between the dream of a universal language and neutral scientific code, on the one hand, and the plaintext particular. (She mentions Lev Manovich’s characterization of narrative and database as natural enemies.) I view the Scientific Dial Primer not as a failed (or necessarily weird, or bizarre) telegraphic code, but rather as a work of imaginative literature, and even a memoir/family album, that starts out as a code (or condenser) but takes leave of that form in short order.

Hallner also authored Uncle Sam, the teacher and the administrator of the world. Sacramento, Cal.: The News. Pub. Co., 1918.


1913 China Inland Mission Private Telegraph Code. Second Edition.Shanghai: Printed at the Methodist Publishing
Cornell (Wason Collection
  1-xii, 2-443

401 tables (000-401, mostly facing pages), each containing entries 00-99: yield 5 figure ciphers, to be condensed to 10 code words. Phrase and other matter is primarily administrative.

Since the year 1899 a small Code, compiled by Mr. T. G. Willett, which was based upon the telegrams received at, and despatched from, the Mission Headquarters in Shanghai, during a period of more than ten years, has been of much service. (from preface dated 1907). Typically, the code is extrapolated from archived messages, with continuing collation of new matter.


composite of condenser (p. iv) and p 363, China Inland Mission Private Telegraph Code (1913).

Using the above, to send only one codeword from Table No. 289 at right — 28987 / What is the truth?, one would write KE (28) NU (98) and R (7) — KENUR.

Preceded by a Private Telegraph Code published in Shanghai in 1907, this volume was consulted in preparation of The Missions Code in 1930, by the Foreign Missions Conference of North America. The 1930 code incorporates the five-letter principle rather than a condenser, and offers an enlarged vocabulary.


1923 Cole’s Complete Code for Metaphysicians / Privacy Efficiency Accuracy Economy

Universal Good Publishing Corporation
730 Fifth Ave. / New York
HE7677 C45 1923
The name Willis Vernon Cole appears nowhere in book, nor on cover (dark brown paper, wouldn’t xerox]

Five letter, bilingual (English/French) code.

I did not know that Cole was a practitioner of Christian Science, when I examined this code at LC so many years ago. Fortunately, it was short — and interesting enough — that I photocopied it in its entirety. The vocabulary consists of groups of 4, 6, 8, 12 phrases under single headings. In many instances, the last one or two of the phrases are philosophical/theological. See below.

Pages 32-33, Cole’s Complete Code for Metaphysicians (1923)  

Cole wrote several books of poetry. See for example Our Leader, and Other Poems (1907), e.g., Love, here. His best collection of poetry is, arguably, this telegraphic code. Contents as follows —

Pages 6-7, Cole’s Complete Code for Metaphysicians (1923)  

Note how the code is pitched to Cole’s practice as a meta-physician.

Pages 46-47, Cole’s Complete Code for Metaphysicians (1923)  

The section on treatments (pp49-56) includes both medical and mental ailments; all are, from the absolute point of Christian Science, viewed as errors of the human mind — hence unreal.

Pages 54-55, Cole’s Complete Code for Metaphysicians (1923)  


Willis Vernon Cole (1882-1939) was a practitioner of Christian Science, poet, vintner; lived in France in late 1920s until his death. See the useful if hagiographic entry at wikipediaCole’s publishings are still widely distributed and can be found in the libraries and classrooms of such colleges as Yale, Harvard, Brown etc.


1925 The Salvation Army Telegraph Code No. 2 International Headquarters, Londonprivate collection
  [10], 1-888, supplement (pp1-71) Staff Officers' Names (Revised to July, 1927)

cover measurement: 5 inches wide, 7 1/4 high

Five-letter code, two-letter difference. Administrative mainly, with many phrase options under various headings.

Pages 252-253, The Salvation Army Telegraph Code No. 2 (1925)  
Pages 456-457, The Salvation Army Telegraph Code No. 2 (1925)  

Pencil marks (on these and other pages in this copy), as received. This copy was issued to The Territorial Commander, Western Territory, U.S.A. (slip pasted onto halftitle page).
There are several sections for messages —

Note also the end of section Message(s) (Bible), which is found in some other telegraphic and private codes.

Pages 580-581, The Salvation Army Telegraph Code No. 2 (1925)  

I presume that phrases regarding the price of rags, has to do with paper manufacture?

Pages 610-611, The Salvation Army Telegraph Code No. 2 (1925)  

Reports of meetings would have been source for various Salvation Army publications, including War Cry.

Pages 680-681, The Salvation Army Telegraph Code No. 2 (1925)  
Pages 774-775, The Salvation Army Telegraph Code No. 2 (1925)  



  1. A Salvation Army Heritage Centre blog post reports that five editions of the SA Telegraphic code are in its archives, dating from 1910-1946. The article now can be found only via thewaybackmachine, ca 2008, here.
  2. Wesley Harris describes The Salvation Army General Telegraphic Code (1910) in his possession
    originally in Journal of Aggressive Christianity 40:256 (December 2005 - January 2006): 50
  3. Warren L. Maye. "R u redy 4 ths?" Good News! 28:2 (March 2011) : 2
    ebsco abstract —
    The article reports on the conversion of the entire Contemporary English Version of the Bible to short message service (SMS) data application by the son of an employee of the Bible Society in Australia. According to Michael Chant, Bible Society spokesperson, the SMS version of the Bible enhances the evangelistic mission of the Church. It also discusses the Salvation Army Telegraph Code which uses ciphers to make messages confidential.
    accessed 12 July 2015


1926 Private Telegraphic and Cable Code The First Church of Christ, Scientist / in Boston, Massachusetts / and / The Christian Science Publishing CompanyNo. 508
HE7677.C45 B6 1926
  41pp: front matter and directions, 1-6, code 7-40, registered cable addresses 41.
cover identifies this as "Second Edition (Revised to July 15, 1926)"

5L, Abaab, Abade, Abaef > Ahyut

Devoted to publishing. Headings as below, with specimen code/phrase pairs.


1930 The Missions Code
Compiled and Published by Authority of the Foreign Missions Conference of North America, for Use by Foreign Mission Boards and Their Correspondents.
Foreign Missions Conference of North America, 419 Fourth Avenue, New Yorkprivate collection
  Editor, Charles L. Boynton, B.A.;
Sub-committee on cable code book, Rev. Charles R. Watson, D.D., Rev. Franklin J. Clark, Dwight H. Day, Esq., Rev. James H. Franklin, D.D., Rev. B. H. Niebel.

This copy ex libris The Library, St. John's University, New York
and written in (inside front cover) :
Registered cable address for International College Smyrna is kolec izmir.

[5], iii-xvi, 1-724 [2] and foldout mutilation table in back

includes quite a bit of “introductory” matter for non-specialists, including an “example of preparing message to send” in which :
“A missionary's wife is ill and the doctors recommend immediate return home. The station is understaffed and a substitute must be called to take the place of the missionary. He must communicate the facts to the Board and learn their wishes in the case.
There ae three main ideas. (1) Return on account of ill health of wife, (2) A substitute or relief or help is needed, (3) Will the Board make these possible?
There follows an explanation of how to express these ideas using available phraseology, within cabling regulations.