The Secret (A Treasure Hunt)

In 1982, author Byron Preiss published a book called The Secret (A Treasure Hunt). Inside Preiss included twelve verses and twelve illustrations, masterfully painted by his friend and famous book cover artist John Jude Palencar. The goal was to match each verse to an illustration and solve the riddles to find the 12 ceramic casks buried across the US. In the casks were small keys that could be redeemed for precious jewels. Preiss thought the treasure hunt would take only a few months to solve, but since 1982, only two casks were ever found.

Now I challenge you to help me find one of the casks. Other treasure hunters seem to believe the tenth verse and the twelfth image point to a cask in NYC. Since I live closest to the city and have lived there before, this will be my focus. Here is the image and the verse:

In the shadow

Of the grey giant

Find the arm that

Extends over the slender path

In summer

You’ll often hear a whirring sound

Cars abound

Although the sign


Speaks of Indies native

The natives still speak

Of him of Hard word in 3 Vols.

Take twice as many east steps as the hour

Or more

From the middle of one branch

Of the v

Look down

And see simple roots

In rhapsodic man’s soil

Or gaze north

Toward the isle of B.

The first clue is perhaps the most misleading. The woman’s face closely resembles that of Lady Liberty’s, but the Statue of Liberty is green, not grey. Not to mention, the statue’s arm extends to the sky. Regardless, some believe the Statue of Liberty is still the statue in question, and the slender path she points to is the Narrows, a section of the Hudson River between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Others believe the grey giant is the statue of George Washington on Wall Street since he is a giant of American history. In this case, the slender path would be the skinny in size Wall Street.

Image result for ellis island aerial viewWhirring could be helicopters. There are helicopter tours of Ellis Island, so perhaps that is a place of interest. Not to mention, the middle section of the island where boats dock looks very much like D4 in the illustration.

Cars abound? Well that could be absolutely anywhere. It’s New York City.

The native of Indies? Definitely Alexander Hamilton. If we assume Lady Liberty is our giant and she is pointing to the Narrows, the section of Brooklyn by the Narrows is called Fort Hamilton. Perhaps that is it.

The rest is quite confusing for me. Rhapsodic man? Is that NYC native George Gershwin, famous for his song Rhapsody in Blue? If so, I don’t see how that helps. But he is ethnically Russian and D5 shows a Russian Orthodox Church. Perhaps a Russian Orthodox Church is representative of his simple roots.

As for the isle of B, that is Liberty Island. Before receiving its current name, the island was called Bedloe Island. That seems fairly certain. So I guess we can at least determine that the treasure is south of Liberty Island.

Any thoughts guys?


52 thoughts on “The Secret (A Treasure Hunt)

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  1. Ah, this makes perfect sense. Does anyone want to follow my decipher? It’s in New York City but it’s not the Lady Liberty. The face is Lady Liberty but the gown is not but it does have the shape of New York. That’s about all I can say without giving away too much I’m too far away to look myself but all the pieces fit. Contact me.


  2. I believe The verse- from the middle of one branch of the v- it is the victory bank on the corner of Bay St. Across from the clock take twice as many etc. This puts you in Baker square look down-the hill-simple roots or gaze north to isle of b


    1. Also the jewels in the solved puzzles, Houston for example,the jewel was traced to a clump of trees one of which is still there,but the blacktop path now covers the spot in painting the trees are portrayed as columns.i believe the jewel in the painting is portraying staten island the island is where the burial site is…The verse FIND the arm that is extended to me means go out and find not just look at the obvious.people dont find the Verazzano bridge. They look at it ,you dont need to find it.Thats my theory.


  3. The clock in the painting matches the clock @2 bay St. S.I. you can see that,the arch,the hand, the verse look down and see simple roots I think he means– the hill -look down “the hill” ,not the ground & see simple roots ,also the brick&beige panels in arch painting match FRONT of 2 bay st. The simple roots aspect is an inscription on a plaque behind the building it simply states: a public man


  4. Also the panel with ferry outline is in the 1st panel.i think he wants us to take the ferry to get to the burial site like immigrants getting off the can’t dig on Ellis so maybe he’s giving us reverse clues? Don’t know until I get there


  5. I also think the panels in the archway are important 2 panels are colored orange( brick )on gold.if you go to Baker square across from it is a building with an orange(brick) &beige FRONT. They run vertical but close enough to notice. Also the look down verse ..I don’t think he means look @ ground ,but maybe down the hill to basic roots or gaze north to isle of b


  6. Also anyone living in nyc. In the summer It’s HOT the whirring is the industrial a/c units next to the park. Vols is the st.George library across from the statue. Rhapsodic mans soil? Wagner (college)German composer. The hand of the statue that is extended is also identical to the left hand in the painting with a little twist. I think the painting is giving us the middle finger!


  7. In the 2 solved puzzles the clues lead the contestants from a known landmark/symbol(chi-town was “the bowman” in grant park) then they went from a to b,b to c, etc. In the shadow of the grey giant it might just mean NYC itself not a key clue but a clue none the less. With the immigrant theme the most important aspect to an immigrant was “getting off the boat”.Mr. Priess got off the ferry @ Staten island and started walking.He wanted the puzzle to be solved by visual and literal clues.The archway in the painting is identical to the door of 24 stuyvesant place S.I. when you get there walk 1 block and you see- what natives still speak of. Inscription on the statue “in memory of” this is the words of 3 verse statue is civil war hero clarence t barrett man of Hard.he was a botanist and agriculture basic roots also the extended arm points to the narrow path out of the have to remember he was walking this without GPS


  8. Hi I’m i think is not in this is Atlanta the back ground has a mosque you can find it in Atlanta the bird is a Falkon that’s Atlanta and the clock is in east point atlanta


  9. In doing some research, it appears that everyone on this blog misses the Grey Giant as The Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Yes, the Indies Native is Hamilton, it is verified by the sign nearby ( as you come off the Bridge into Brooklyn there is a huge sign for Fort Hamilton) and the clue of how they still speak of him of hard word in 3 volumes. I believe that refers to the 3 volumes of the Federalist Papers, to which he is famous for, along with James Madison and John Jay. or the three volumes could be the 3 NY newspapers that published those articles during the whole Constitutional Ratification process.
    Now there is an actual “V” and a “v” inside Fort Hamilton (It’s clearly visible from map app on satellite view.) the poem shows a lower case v and perhaps the two together differentiate which “v” you start from. The problem is after 1999 and 2001, that area became part of the Washington defense zone. the Soldiers on base nor the Commanding officer will NEVER let you dig there. So if that’s the v, the search is dead. However, I haven’t abandoned all hope and continue to search for the one clue’s meaning that eludes me… The Rhapsodic Man’s Soil?


    1. I think the rhapsodic man’s soil is something that eludes us all. Some people have ideas, but I don’t think I’ve heard anything that sounds logical or fits in with any of the other clues


    2. I’m glad at least ONE other person has considered the ‘grey giant’ being the Verrazzano Bridge!! My thoughts about ‘rhapsodic man’s soil’ was mainly a ‘location’ clue…as Bklyn was the birthplace of Gershwin who composed “Rhapsody in Blue.” I believe I know where the casque is buried, however it’s now in a SECURED area…(not the Fort Hamilton base, but nearby.) I’ve visited the site once but plan to go again to try and speak to someone about gaining entry and, hopefully, permission to check out the spot. The clues in the image mainly designate NYC and the harbor as being the general location. Perhaps the ‘logic’ I used in figuring out the clues in the verse was a bit plain and simple, however- every line seems to point to the location where I believe the casque is buried! If I do ever get close enough to check out the spot…and find the casque…I’ll definitely let everyone know!


        1. Thanks! Good luck to you, too! I believe the main problem we ‘Secret Searchers’ face is the vast amount of TIME that’s passed;…many areas that were once open and accessible to the public in the early 1980s, are now secured. Once I’ve exhausted all possible attempts at checking out where I believe the NYC casque is buried, I’ll reveal everything that led me to the spot……and then, I’ll probably cry A LOT, not ever being able to determine if I was right!!


  10. I have request permission and even got a wiki link pbworks stuff and still can not write on the image comments help I’m in need of a partner in all this .. I think I may have found 3 cities


  11. Hi Alayden,

    Thank you for responding. It appears I might have to join a university research group in order to get that permit since it does not fall under normal excavation rules. If I do by chance receive permission, I will be glad to post location her and would love if you as well as any others who want to, would join me!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello, I have question. I believe I know the exact spot of the NY casque. My question is, is it not possible to get a permit to dig? It seems a shame that these casques would remain for decades more without being found. I did check the permit route but it appears no description matches the need. There are permits for research, tree pruning and such but not treasure hunting! any help would be appreciated.


  13. I think the simple roots clue is a reference to the authors and Gershwin’s NY, Russian and Jewish roots. It’s also telling you to look down and dig. There have been many parallels between this hunt and my life I would like to thank Byron Preiss for the great ride myself and my daughter have taken. And The Travel channel and Josh Gates from Expedition Unknown for opening my eyes to this last month. Any treasure hunter worth a hoot should be able to take the unspoken verse and image and find the ‘v’ ictory spot, happy hunting. Cheech

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are yet other images from the painting unmentioned. The unforgiving ocean, which does have a connection. The two Manhattan like forms with their SW corners highlighted, that image instantly grabbed me. The November references with the clock, chrysanthemum, and topaz, which itself is a Russian symbol. As an aside, recent science actually says some American indian origins can be traced to Russia. The first submarine attack occured off the Battery in 1776 when patriot Ezra Lee in the ‘Turtle’ attacked a British ship in NY harbor.
      Any guesses where the plexi box was buried?


      1. The box should be by the ocean, but the doesn’t exactly narrow it down.The surf seems to show the image of a lion, though. The woman is definitely in the shape of Manhattan with the topaz in the SW, but where is the other Manhattan form? All the November symbolism makes sense. I’m not sure how Ezra Lee relates though.


    2. When you say ‘v’ictory spot, I think of the WW2 memorial in Battery Park. It was built before the Secret. You can see the ocean, Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, and a bird. The pillars even look like the thing at D4, though that could be the World Trade Center.


      1. Ezra Lee was just an interesting unrelated facet of local history. In the image of the minarets the area of the bright spot could be interpreted as a Manhattan like form. The WW II East Coast memorial was dedicated by JFK exactly 6mos. before his demise. It commerates those who lost their lives in the turbulant Atlantic. Like some others, this clue hits close to home in regard to what I do in retirement. Of course It’s more steps if you start from the middle of one branch of the V!


      2. I wish I coud see the original painting! It’s hard to see but there is an arrow or arrowhead on the bottom of the flowers stem. It points down to an area right behind the eagle. Josh gates, where are you? His Expedition Unknown episode featuring NYC is airing again this week, check the Travel Channel schedule if you wish to see it.


  14. The whirling sound is now year round, and cars ‘abound’ next to and under the park. The ‘nearby’ sign is for the National museum of the American Indian just south of the park in Bowling Green. ‘Him of Hard word’ is a direct jab at…………


    1. Hmmm interesting. That all sounds good. Not to mention, there are bird statues on the museum that resemble the one in the picture. But Him of Hard Word and the rhapsodic man still trouble me. You seem to know who Him of Hard Word is. Is it Peter Minuit, who bought Manhattan at Bowling Greens?Bowling Greens is a V, so the east steps could lead to the Bowling Green Marker or perhaps to the Francis Makemie monument. Francis Makemie was rhapsodic. But the monument was built in 1982, which is when the treasure hunt was published.

      You seem like you know more. I’d be interested to hear more


      1. He lived in nearby NJ for one year before moving to upstate NY and becomming famous for Cooperstown and as an author. In several volumes of his American classic ‘The Leatherstocking Tales’ he depicted the American indian as noble, but sub human and animal like. Im sure Preiss realized the original owners of Manhattan ( island of many hills), the Lenape or Deleware were a branch of the Mohican. James Fenimore Coopers most famous work was ‘Last of the Mohicans’. And yes, save 35+ years of tree growth, all can be seen from where the box was buried.


    2. Also two things:

      1.Byron Preiss said all of the images in the picture would be visible from the cask location. You can’t really see the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island (if that is what the onion dome thing is), but maybe that’s because taller buildings have been constructed after the treasure hunt was published.

      2. He says “or gaze north toward the isle of B.” I assumed the Isle of B was Bedloe Island where the Statue of Liberty is, but that’s south, not north. What is the Isle of B?


      1. Oops, you walked past the isle of B!. From 1896-1941 the NY aquarium resided there, hence the mosaic pool tiles in the painting. Prior to the construction of Ellis is., between 1820-1892, eleven million immigrants landed at the isle of B. Originally it was a manmade island with a fort of 28 cannon (the west”B”attery), there are great pictures of it online. Today the park totally engulfs the former island that is now Castle Clinton. Obviously the box wad buried south of it.


      2. I feel obligated to reveal this hunt is being revealed on several sites simultaneously.
        After exausting ALL ‘Offical channels” to legally dig I decided to reveal all.
        I feel before one could dig or even probe they would be arrested. It’s Lights, Camera, Action 24/7 . Once detained the location would become open game, and a some estute park employee will finish your hole. The history is the true treasure! Consider that an onlooker may have dug up the box before Preiss got out of the park.


  15. Only when you enter Battery park at its north corner are you afforded a full view of the looming WTC giant. Continue into the park and glimpse the clock tower and the arched window on the Pier A Harbor House. In front of you are the Minarets of Ellis Is.and of course Lady Liberty, all from the painting! Head south and see the outstretched arm from the statue “The Immigrants”, the path below is no longer slender… be continued. Cheech


  16. The Isle of B, the slender path, and everything else in in one NYC park. I would be glad to interpret almost any of the verses or images. Cheech


    1. I would also add that the vast majority of the clues are lost history that Preiss wanted exposed. The history I’ve learned on the hunt far exceeds the value of the treasure, so does my monthly SS check.


    1. Great deductions. Sad that you can’t actually dig it up if it is there. One of the things I like that you picked up on was the focus on immigration in each illustration. For Charleston it was African immigrants. The NYC one seems to be Russian immigrants. It’s always one piece of the puzzle to focus on while on the hunt


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