Cryptics from the Long-Gone Past

I’ve been regrettably inactive on the cryptic crossword front for quite a while now, but I do have something to post about courtesy of BT: a selection of cryptic crosswords from way back when.

BT has done some fantastic detective work and scrounged up some blasts from the past. Here’s what he’s got in his own words:

The cryptic started off in the Women’s Supplement, a weekly tip-in.

Crossword #1,6566304
(pg 18 – the Women’s Supplement has been scanned sideways.)



At some point it moved to the main section, #1161:

and some time after that, it was joined by the Quick, #8867:
(Note there is only one grid for both crosswords. This explains the Herald/Age’s doubled grids.)

(150th anniversary of the SMH)

By the late 80s, things are looking more familiar – two grids, cryptic above quick. Still no attributions.

I can’t be arsed finding the exact transitions – finding #1 was annoying enough.

Bonus examples:

The Age Quick:

Sunday Herald:

Hints for finding crosswords:

Use to search for anything before 1990. Set source to Sydney Morning Herald.

You can’t depend on searching for Puzzle or Crossword all the time – google’s text recognition doesn’t always pick it up. For early stuff, you need to look for high page counts (>10 pages) which indicates a tip-in like the Women’s Supplement. After it transferred to the main section, check the index on the bottom right of the front page.

One thought on “Cryptics from the Long-Gone Past

  1. Someone’s done a lot of research to find these early crosswords. As usual, I think Google has found a way to provide access to content that others have diligently collected. I first found these old crosswords through a project currently being run by the National Library of Australia, that has 1000s of scanned old newspapers available on its website –
    The first SMH puzzle listed above can be found here – The beauty of the NLA system is that software has already tried to identify articles and they can be accessed as separate entities is most cases. The project seeks to turn imprecise OCR-generated text into the original text.

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