Painting #4: The Penny-Pockets Lady

BORDER PHRASE: “Choose a number and a colour; find the pocket, now pass me by.”




HIDDEN HARE: Hiding beneath Penny-Pockets’ skirt.

CLUES & COMMENTS: The magic square puzzle around Penny-Pockets’ wrist is crucial to decoding the master riddle’s solution phrase; it acts as a key to the colored letters on the Sir Isaac Newton painting. Her skirt contains the same four colors as Isaac’s paper and puppet rings, as well.

Meanwhile, the little girl was the young daughter of Kit’s chemist (pharmacist), and Kit painted her as he thought she might look when she was older in the 14th painting. For the time being, however, she seems positively elated at the prospect of being horribly stung by bees.

Mason Willey adds: “It is not just an ordinary magic square, (constructed by putting the numbers 1 to 16 in a 4 x 4 grid and then reversing the diagonals), but the version used by the Renaissance artist Durer in one of his engravings, Melancholia I. Durer took the standard magic square and transposed the two middle vertical rows of numbers, which does not alter the square’s properties, but makes it unusual.”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Julian Haynes June 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I remember the magic of Kit’s book and spending hours trying to decode the mystery… i was 11.

With the hare hiding under the skirts of Penny Pocket and a chance quote on the Reader’s Digest atlas led me to link this to the legend of Saint Melangell of Wales who would hide hunted hares under her long skirts.

My family and i actually visited that place in Wales… a church called Pennant Melangell:,_Pennant_Melangell

How wonderful that the magic of Kit’s work could lead an 11 year old boy into the legends past

Julian Haynes


Holly November 16, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I agree Julian. I think I was 9 when my Ma gifted me Masquerade for my birthday. Cryptic and wonderful. I achedwas dying to work out the puzzle and find the amulet – despite semi-knowing it had already been claimed.



Ron Schneider November 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

One simple-but-clever pointer I’ve never read or heard mention of is the hare bell. The hare bell is mentioned a few times in the story, and appears a few times in the paintings… but there are only two story/painting combinations where it is both mentioned AND pictured: the two key pages for solving the riddle. Paintings number 4 and 12!


Stephen March 12, 2017 at 3:10 am

Do you think you are supposed to see the hare’s right eye in this picture? I suspect not as his right eye and right paws don’t point to much except a spare E and a space.


Jackie May 3, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Why is the number seven missing from the puzzle hanging from her hand…?


Sammy July 3, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Hi Jackie,
I’ll be a little vague so as not to spoil the puzzle (you can find the solution elsewhere on the internet). The number 7 is missing to make it visually obvious that it corresponds to the similar grid on Painting #12, which also has a square missing. Since there are other grids in the book, this tells us which two grids need to be matched up to solve the clue.
But the blank square also tells something else: first, it tells you which colour finger-ring is NOT important in Picture #12 (which is the key picture to solving the puzzle) and this will then help with telling us which eyes throughout the book shouldn’t be included. Hope that makes some sense without spoiling too much for others.


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