What was that book of fantasy illustrations with the secret prize?
April 6, 2007 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Lost book question: When I was a kid, our upstairs neighbors lent me a book of wild fantasy illustrations that contained a hidden puzzle. There was a sizable prize for whoever figured out the riddle.

This would be from the late seventies or early eighties, so I could be remembering a lot of things wrong. The book had little or no text. The illustrations were lush, vibrant and detailed--think prog rock album cover, but not Boris Vallejo-style fantasy art. Light-hearted, but definately for the adult hippy/fantasy fan, not kids. There was a mediaeval theme; I think there was a short jester holding a large key. The clues led you to the location of the prize. Or maybe you had to mail in your answer. The prize was worth $50,000--but of course I was a kid with no concept of money, so maybe it was $500.

Am I making this up? Was it a hoax? Did someone actually find the prize?
posted by hydrophonic to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Masquerade?
posted by chrismear at 1:26 PM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: Masquerade looks different from the book in my memory, but I now have a term for this sort of thing: Armchair treasure hunt.
posted by hydrophonic at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2007

What chrismear said. I still have my copy.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2007

Wow, I hadn't heard about the scandal before. That's really depressing. I think reading this book as a kid is why I always keep an eye out for acrostics in experimental fiction (and they're often there).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pictures (and puzzle solutions) here.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:36 PM on April 6, 2007

Thanks for bringing back a childhood memory.
We were given the opportunity to solve the masquerade puzzle in my elementary school (4th grade), but I never learned what really happened. I vaguely remember hearing about the hare pendant when it was in the news (I guess after being discovered) but I was too young to pay much attention at the time.
I hope you find the one you're looking for hydrophonic.
posted by puppet at 1:43 PM on April 6, 2007

Could it have been either Unicornis or Dragontooth? Both are very text heavy but have lovely medieval illustrations and illuminated pages and both end with hints to find a prize which is photographed (a unicorn horn sword and dragontooth dagger, repsectively). I remember pouring over both extensively as a child, and I'm pretty sure the dog-earred copies are still on the shelves at my folks' house. Here are some of the illustrations form Unicornis
posted by nelleish at 1:52 PM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: There sure are a lot of these things. But after seeing the pictures, I think Masquerade is right. It's heavy on the surrealism and has text around the border, both of which seem very close to what I had in mind. I guess with the fallibility of memory I'll never know for sure.

Funny how I thought it was for adults. I might be mixing it up with the covers of those prog rock lp's I also borrowed. Those neighbors of mine were very cool--I still have the Robert Crumb comic they gave me.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:12 PM on April 6, 2007

I remember a jester holding a key in The Ultimate Alphabet by Mike Willis, but your description of the book reminds me of MAZE by Christopher Manson.
posted by goo at 2:16 PM on April 6, 2007

D'oh! Must. Preview.
posted by goo at 2:16 PM on April 6, 2007

Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base is another book of that type, and I thought there was a real-life contest involved, but I don't see any evidence of that on its Wikipedia page.
posted by booth at 2:57 PM on April 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

Previous MeFi threads on similar puzzles/treasure hunts - 1, 2.
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on April 6, 2007

« Older Finding a reliable tour guide in Reykjavik   |   How do I clean up my search history? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.