Sunday, October 30, 2011

CBOT telegraphic cipher

Trading via telegraph is more than old time, it's olde tyme.  To facilitate a more accurate way of receiving orders and relaying information, the Robinson Telegraphic Cipher was created in 1872 (a few years before invention of the telephone) to have a standardized listing of telegraphic communication at the Chicago Board of Trade.  The following pages are scanned from the 1897 edition of the cipher and to be honest I don't know when it ceased to be published.  Although I'll highlight a few scans, fortunately the entire book is scanned by google books so it can be seen here.  Basically the premise of the cipher was for the telegraph operators to translate a certain word into a phrase, number, word, etc...  to abbreviate it in an accurate and standardized manner.  (Click on photos to enlarge)

The first scan shows the table of contents as to which type of information is listed.  Now some might wonder why things other than wheat/corn were listed and that's because there was a provision pit at the CBOT which to my understanding had misc commodities trading in it like beef, etc....

This scan is of the first page and illustrates how the ciper actually works.  I clipped the sentence from the top which reads: "The following phrases have been arranged to save in a great measure looking through the book, when using the cipher for orders. The month or word for time of delivery, following the word for the amount. Example: "Abdicate, Achieve, March," translated reads, Buy 250 bbls. Mess Pork, March delivery."

There is also some blank spaces which can be filled in w/custom words/phrases/numbers/etc....

The final scan just shows some misc phrases which could be used to describe market activity. 

If anyone wants one, the cipher can be found in various booksellers on the internet for around $30 on up so it's not too rare. 
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