Masquerade - the quest for the golden hare
In 1979 there was the beginning of an art phenomenon that shook the world.
An eccentric artist named Kit Williams created a fabulous book that became a worldwide sensation.
Why? Because, as a craftsman and artist, he had fashioned a valuable piece of jewelry and buried it. The search was on.
His book explained, with riddles and images, how to retrieve the fabulous golden hare. We had a copy of the book but I never came even close to understanding the riddles it contained.
Kit declared to the world that the puzzle could easily be solved by the average person and that no specialist knowledge was required. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the book were sold in the next few years but until 1988, no-one had unraveled the mystery.
Everyday, letters poured through the mailbox at Kit's home. He had told the treasure hunters that, if they truly understood the puzzle, they would send him a nineteen-word message that was to be found by following the clues in the book. Mail arrived from everywhere in the world.
But that nineteen word sentence didn't appear.
Images Wikipedia Commons.
The Golden Hare - The treasure
In 1979, artist Kit Williams left his home in the dead of night. With him was television personality Bamber Gascoigne who was taken along to witness the burial of the magnificent gold and jeweled treasure Kit had created.
It was on public ground and in a place where the author could be sure that there would be no construction or building work taking place in the near future. These were clues in themselves.
Only these two people knew the secret location. But the details, the public were told, could be unraveled from the clues in Kit's intricately-illustrated book.
The hunt is on - thousands responded
The book was disguised as an illustrated children's book but many adults were captivated by the challenge. As time went by, people from all over the world tried to unravel the mystery of where this golden hare could be buried. Hare seekers from countries far and wide traveled to Britain in their search.
Kit received sacks of letters every day with solutions. Time went by and no-one seemed to be even close to discovering the golden hare.
On Sunday, March 14th, 1982, Masqueraders all over the world heard that the Golden Hare had been found. Rumors quickly spread that the person who had found the treasure hadn't actually solved the riddle but, although he was actively searching for the treasure, he had found it by accident.
But because he had told KIt the location, Kit told him to dig. The nineteen word message had still not been given though.
Was this true?
In his book written in 1983, Bamber Gascoigne tells the full story, right from the conception of Masquerade until its eventual discovery and its aftermath.
It transpired that two schoolteachers had been working on the puzzle for a long time.Their solution was received within hours of Kit confirming to the supposed finder that he had cracked the code.
Actually, he hadn't - the schoolteachers though were absolutely correct. But they had been beaten by a hair (sorry).
But there is a postscript
The two teachers at least had the satisfaction of knowing that they were the only ones who had cracked the puzzle but nevertheless, the golden hare went to the person who had seemed to had almost got it right.
He insisted on remaining anonymous. He received almost £32,000 when the hare was sold at auction.
However,later revelations were to follow.
The anonymous man had only told Kit that he knew the rough location - not the nineteen letter message. It was later discovered that Kit'sex-girlfriend had told the anonymous man the approximate location.
A woman scorned?
In 2009, Kit Williams saw the Golden Hare for the first time since its discovery. He said:
Learn more about this amazing book that had 'Masqueraders' from all over the world trying to solve the puzzle and find the great prize - the Golden Hare. You'll find that these books are now out of print but Amazon has bargain copies (some used) available at bargain prices.
Alas, you can no longer join in the hunt for the buried treasure but you'll love the artwork and, if you're anything like me, be totally astonished by the riddles - and their solutions. Totally brilliant.
Find your own buried treasure
I'm fascinated by the idea of buried treasure. It still exists although it's no longer the pirate chests of gold doubloons that I used to read about as a child. But treasure hunters still make some amazing - and valuable discoveries. This is going to be my next hobby.
Masquerade on eBay
You may be able to find bargain copies of the book even today!
© 2012 Jackie Jackson