Masquerade was a book released in 1979 that sparked the hunt for the pictured jewelled hare. It was written and illustrated by artist Kit Williams, who decided that he wanted to do something a bit different, and came up with the idea of a treasure hunt that was to be solved by decoding clues in the lavishly painted images held within the pages of the book. The book also told a children’s story about the journey taken by Jack Hare to deliver a treasure from the Moon to her love the Sun. Upon reaching the Sun, Jack discovers he has lost the treasure, and it is therefore up to the reader to solve the clues to discover where it might be.
The book sold in droves as the general public all leapt at the chance of solving the mystery and discovering the whereabouts of the hidden treasure, but the puzzle was not solved until 1982, when the hare was found by Ken Thomas. Unfortunately Ken Thomas was a fraud, his real name being Dugald Thompson. Instead of solving the puzzles fairly, he had got information out of Veronica Robertson, an ex-girlfriend of Kit Williams which led him to the rough location of the hare. Annoyingly, the treasue hunt was solved fair and square a short while afterwards by two Physics teachers, Mike Barker and John Rousseau, but by then the prize had already been awarded.
As mentioned, the prize of the treasure hunt was the golden hare which was also crafted by Kit Williams. The treasure was buried in the shadow of Catherine of Aragon’s cross, at Ampthill, near Bedford in the UK, in a ceramic hare shaped casket to protect it both from the soil and from being found by a metal detector. Kit buried the hare there under the watchful eye of Bamber Gascoigne, best known for being the host of University Challenge at the time. Gascoigne also wrote a book, The Quest for the Golden Hare, detailing all the history of Masquerade, from creation through to the final uncovering of the hare.
I remember my uncle had a copy of the book, and no one in our family could make head nor tail of it, but we still enjoyed looking at the pictures. If you too remember being stumped by the puzzle, then take a look at Dan Amrich’s great website which features a step by step solution to finding the Golden Hare.Â