Chinese Gold Bar Ciphers


The International Association for Cryptologic Research has a webpage describing a set of mysterious gold bars held by a “museum in the US”. These gold bars appear to contain text in English and Chinese, as well as some cryptogram-like text, along with a number of pictures.

These claim that at National City Bank (later Citibank)’s Shanghai branch on 3rd March 1933, General Wang Jialie bought 300 million shares in NCB for just over $300 million. One of the gold bars claims to be some kind of licence for this transaction, and that Generals [He] Yingqin, Zhu Peide, and Li Fulin were witnesses to the transaction, along with Governor Sijie, Ruanruo Fu, and secretary Anna Si Lina.

Note that Wang Jialie (1893-1966), Zhu Peide (1889-1937), Li Fulin (1872-1952), and He Yingqin (1890-1987) were all genuinely generals in the Kuomintang, though the identities of the others are all currently unknown.

However, there are also a number of inconsistencies:
* The technical details of the airplane depicted on one gold bar seems inconsistent with the claimed 1933 dating.
* The Chinese General depicted and named as “General Wang Jialie” seems inconsistent with a 1933 dating, because he was made a Lieutenant-General only in 1936, according to this site.

When contacted by email in March 2015, the firm of lawyers named on the IACR page said: “We no longer represent the client and closed our file a long time ago. We have no further information. Sorry.” Attempts to contact ‘Bin J. Tao’ were also unsuccessful.

One of the gold bars also refers to “1948”, though it is not yet clear in what precise context.

A partial transcription of some of the text is available here.

Areas for further research:
* The name of the museum holding the gold bars is not known.
* The seven gold bars should be given unique names to help coordinate research (i.e. CGB1, CGB2, etc)
* All the text on the gold bars should be properly transcribed
* The three Chinese-language newspaper articles shown here should be transcribed and translated professionally.
* Is “Bin J. Tao” the same person as “Tao Ye” mentioned in the articles?