Whilst contemplating time off with the family, Easter Egg hunts and the joys of Spring, we were reminded of this blast from the past and got all nostalgic! We thought we would share it with you.
Masquerade was written by Kit Williams and published by Jonathan Cape in the 1970’s. Their aim was to do something different and create a children’s book which was both precious and engaging, rather than throwaway.
The story follows the quintessential English Spring creature, a hare named Jack Hare, and his quest to deliver precious treasure. He loses his treasure, and the reader is then tasked with finding it, following clues within the book’s pages. Williams wanted children to really pay attention to the content of the book,especially the highly detailed illustrations. In order to further achieve this, he then instigated the type of real world activity which was relatively unknown at that time- and all without digital technology or a social media campaign!
Alongside the book, he crafted a hare from 18 carat gold and jewels, in the form of a pendant on a chain. He then placed the hare in a hare-shaped casket. The casket was inscribed with “I am the Keeper of the Jewel of MASQUERADE, which lies waiting safe inside me for You or Eternity”. Williams then created a media event by burying the treasure, and stating that his upcoming book would provide all of the clues required for the public to find it.
The response was huge, and the book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide, with searchers engaging from far and wide. It was even reproduced for the Italian market with an Italian treasure hunt. Masquerade became the forerunner of an entire new genre of cryptic puzzles known as armchair treasure hunts. Other publishers sought to emulate its success, and similar hunts have continued to be published in various formats. Many modern hunts make use of technologies that were unavailable at the time of Masquerade, including being fully or partially web based and utilising SMS and location based technologies.
A forty year old example of the power of a story and the mobilisation of its fans in the real world!
We hope you enjoy your Easter Egg hunts- who knows what treasure you might find?