what does this puzzle mean?
August 5, 2009 1:07 AM   Subscribe

i've given up,
i cannot solve this rebus puzzle on the wall of the great britain hotel in richmond, melbourne, australia

can this be solved or is it just gibberish?


i also think it's funny that google maps has automatically blurred the face in the painting over the door
posted by compound eye to Society & Culture (43 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Okay, some free advice: do not google image search for "man pipe" without safe search on.

Here's a site that identifies some famous pipe smokers. I haven't identified who (if anyone) the man with the pipe is. I think the second image is a cow (or possibly a bull) but cow makes more sense if you have to exchange three letters for three others - cow for ear. So if the man was Coward, it would then be Earard (so clearly it's not Coward, but maybe it's someone with a cow in his name.)

The bottom seems to me to be something like S-Quid-T, or S-coin-T or S-money-T or Scasht or yeah, no, I can't work it out either.
posted by b33j at 1:28 AM on August 5, 2009


Australian currency seems to be known also as royals, possibly making the bottom somethings royalty.
posted by hindmost at 1:37 AM on August 5, 2009


So this is a rebus sign that has changed at least once?
posted by HopperFan at 1:44 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've gotten it stuck in my head that somehow it's

(something) bull s (hi*) t = 'ere

so I'm never going to figure it out now.

*I've got several weird ideas on how an image of money could equal "hi," which are probably very silly.
posted by HopperFan at 1:57 AM on August 5, 2009


Australian currency seems to be known also as royals,

Uh, no. Not in my experience. Maybe in Perth? Or the 1800s?
posted by jacalata at 1:58 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Australian currency seems to be known also as royals

I think most of us must have missed that memo.
posted by goshling at 3:06 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you sure it's a rebus? Because I've never seen one use an equals sign like that.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:21 AM on August 5, 2009


i think i have seen = ear to mean
"sounds like"
posted by compound eye at 3:32 AM on August 5, 2009


so perhaps
cow = ear means "moo"
posted by compound eye at 3:34 AM on August 5, 2009


my brother went into the pub and asked about the sign, they wouldn't talk.
posted by compound eye at 3:40 AM on August 5, 2009


man pipe + google image search

couldn't see the problem until page three and then .. oh my!
posted by compound eye at 3:41 AM on August 5, 2009


The only thing coming to my mind is:

(currency) + t = current city
posted by ellenaim at 3:47 AM on August 5, 2009


It has man + cow = ear... or maybe it's hat + cow/bull? But I'm not sure what kind of sound either of those combinations would make.

What does an arrow mean in a rebus puzzle? I've never seen that before. Or is it pointing to the top of the S?
posted by like_neon at 3:53 AM on August 5, 2009


Could "= (ear)" mean "is 'ear" = "is 'ere" = "is here"?
posted by gene_machine at 4:02 AM on August 5, 2009


Something about sound horns and head to the something in the middle of the street?
posted by Phanx at 4:20 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps Australian rhyming slang figures into it?
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:47 AM on August 5, 2009


check out this - it's a make your own rebus site. I typed in "i wear my sunglasses at night" and it offered me (at one point) a pear with the inscription beneath "p=w". Later it shows a sundial and says dia=g, so you have to replace the letters "dia" with "g" and you get the "sungl" bit.

So, I'm thinking, by these rebus rules, if cow=ear, then you need to replace every "cow" in the sentence with "ear".
posted by b33j at 5:03 AM on August 5, 2009


As an Australian for the last 41 3/4 years, I've not heard much of this Australian rhyming slang, MonkeyToes. I have heard of it, last used in the 50s. Perhaps I hang with the wrong people.
posted by b33j at 5:07 AM on August 5, 2009


hat/brim/fedora cow/beef/moo smoke/pipe s buck/chit/ t combines to sounds like - I don't know what. Not to lead down the garden path (I can't work Bateman into it) but the pipe smoking guy I recognise from [self links] H M Bateman - my blog post.
posted by tellurian at 5:36 AM on August 5, 2009


That Bateman bit is interesting. Wiki link.

Note this: His first contract was in 1904, for ten drawings and two illustrations in a fourpenny monthly magazine called The Royal.

/just coin-cidence, I'm sure.
posted by b33j at 6:11 AM on August 5, 2009


And sorry for repeat posting, but this collection of Bateman cartoons (thank you Tellurian) includes a Cowes' nightmare.
posted by b33j at 6:15 AM on August 5, 2009


Oh no, thank you b33j (I just wish they [Cowes' nightmare] were bigger).
posted by tellurian at 6:26 AM on August 5, 2009


The Australian PM at the time of the dollar replacing the pound was Bob Menzies. He loved the monarchy and was keen for the new currency to be called the Royal. You can see mockups at the Reserve Bank's site. The public didn't like it much.

If I may be permitted a memory from the GB: Even when bands were actually playing, they always had a roaring fire when it was cold. Once when Temper Temper played, I could clearly hear the hiss of sweat from the drummer's shaken hair vaporising in the flames during the quieter passages.
posted by hawthorne at 8:07 AM on August 5, 2009


Come on, people, this is driving me crazy!

As I'm reading it, there are two different 'words' (which may not be single words, but might instead be two sounds that eventually spell out several words).

I'm seeing (man + cow + ear) + (s_____t). Right?
posted by mudpuppie at 11:02 AM on August 5, 2009


Man + cow = steer, which sounds like ear?
posted by harperpitt at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2009



Sorry, it's been driving me crazy, too, but I got nuthin'.

As far as I can tell, the first word needs to be a word for either man, hat, or pipe that includes the letters c-o-w in it, which is then swapped out for e-a-r.

The best I could do for the second word was to google slang for Australian money, notice that "trey" is slang for three pence (I know the coin has the dollar sign on it, though), and notice that S+trey+T could be "straight".
posted by Jinkeez at 11:17 AM on August 5, 2009


How common is "trey"? Could it be "Steer straight" - like, stop trying to figure out what this rebus is and just drive your car already?
posted by harperpitt at 11:37 AM on August 5, 2009



I had that thought, too, but how does the hat/pipe/dude work in to that?
posted by Jinkeez at 11:39 AM on August 5, 2009


Going on the (admittedly not errorproof) idea that an equals sign means "sounds like" in rebus code, that would make it "MAN + COW, (sounds like) EAR - or "STEER."

Honestly, though, I have no clue. If "Steer Straight" is the answer, it's kind of a lame rebus. Can anyone make out the other rebus in HopperFan's image? That might help us figure out their thought patterns.
posted by harperpitt at 11:44 AM on August 5, 2009


Resolution is limited, harperpitt, but it looks like "head" + "sword" = "skull & crossbones".

As to the other, I got nuthin', and I used to be a veteran GAMES subscriber. Something involving milk, perhaps? From the other I don't think the "=" is a clue so much as an indication this is more general than a typical puzzle.
posted by dhartung at 3:41 PM on August 5, 2009


I don't know what it says, but in terms of format I think it's:

[man] + [word that sounds like cow] + s + [coin] + c

It also occured to me that the "s" could look a lot like a musical note from some angles, but I don't know if that helps or if it's just a red herring.
posted by iivix at 7:19 PM on August 5, 2009


To make that a bit clearer, since we don't know that it's actually the word "Cow":

[man] + [word that sounds like [cow]] + s + [coin] + c
posted by iivix at 7:21 PM on August 5, 2009


I can't believe I just made the same mistake twice there above. Obviously that last "c" should be a "t". I'll try again:

[man] + [word that sounds like [cow]] + s + [coin] + t
posted by iivix at 7:30 PM on August 5, 2009


The bottom seems to me to be something like S-Quid-T, or S-coin-T or S-money-T or Scasht or yeah, no, I can't work it out either.
This is driving me nuts. I just went through a huge list of words starting with 's' and ending in 't' and couldn't find a word in the middle that would match whatever that dollar is. I'm going to start calling dollar coins 'hi'.
posted by tellurian at 9:06 PM on August 5, 2009


Uh, no. Not in my experience. Maybe in Perth? Or the 1800s?

Apparently it was for a shorter time frame than I thought.
posted by hindmost at 12:15 AM on August 6, 2009


frog-skin? "Sov'rin (£1). 19 C. Australian in both origin and use. Now quite forgotten as rhyming slang, but as a naturalized American it means a dollar bill." I sure am learning a lot of rubbish trying to solve this.
posted by tellurian at 12:36 AM on August 6, 2009


Sovereign? sovereign-ty?
posted by b33j at 3:29 AM on August 6, 2009


my brother went into the pub and asked about the sign, they wouldn't talk.
Is this a competition with a monetary reward attached to it?
posted by tellurian at 4:00 AM on August 6, 2009


The guy in the hat is giving me a hard time. As big as it is, it might be a part of the upper and lower lines. It's difficult to tell if it's supposed to be a generic head (face? mug? bust?); a masculine head (man? bloke? fellow?); or if the hat, pipe, and glasses are significant.

Looking for clues, the head looks strangely like this guy. Is it a caricature of the English (Pom? Pommey?).

I can't come up with a good answer for the face including the letters "c o w", so I'm thinking the [cow] = [ear] must be "sounds like a cow", which would be "moo" or "low".

I have a possibility for the second line. I've seen the [arrow]S in a rebus before. The arrow is pointing to the "top" of the "s", or the "s-top", which becomes "stop". In a different variation, I guess, it could be "tops" ("top-s") or even "ups" ("up-s") or "uppers".

This is a little sloppy, but the last bit might be "s-top" + "penny" + "t", which runs together as "stop and eat".
posted by Anephim at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2009


One last try:

[face] is "British"
[cow] is "beef"
[=] is "is"
[ear] is "'ere," ergo "here"
[arrow S] + [coin] + [T] is "s-top penny-t", ergo "stop in 'n' eat"

British beef is here, stop in and eat.

I don't know if that makes sense. Is there's anything special about British beef in Australia? But that works out well enough for me to stop thinking about it. :-)
posted by Anephim at 7:40 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]



HEY!! Anephim got me thinking--could it be:

"Hot Chow Here! Stop and Eat!"
posted by Jinkeez at 8:27 AM on August 7, 2009


Is there's anything special about British beef in Australia?
Not really, but it is the Great Britain Hotel. It might also be Top (as in 'good') beef. I'd drop the 'in' from the last line (just 'stop and eat') and it works for me too.
*gives Anephim the tick*
posted by tellurian at 6:19 PM on August 7, 2009


no its not a competition
or at least not an explicitly acknowledged one,
its just a sign on a wall
while i'm not entirely convinced by your answer anephim,
i think you deserve the special gold star for
making the most plausible crack in the shell of this one
posted by compound eye at 2:52 AM on August 8, 2009


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