Women bought old dresses in antique stores. Its concealed pocket had a cryptic letter

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Sara Rivers Cofield has never seen a Victorian outfit like the Maine antique mall dress. Its tight bodice, fluffy bustle, and lace cuffs were vintage.

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It was an 1880s garment, but Rivers Cofield, a vintage costume collector, found its beautiful embroidery, bronze silk, and metallic buttons intact.

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As she considered where to put the two-piece, she negotiated the price to $100 from $125. 

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 It cost more than she typically pays as an archaeologist who collects ancient costumes and handbags for fun. She overspent throughout the holidays.

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Rivers Cofield had no clue her December 2013 dress would solve a decade-old mystery. A concealed pocket behind the bustle had two crumpled slips of paper with odd phrases and places:

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Time appears in margin notes. The outfit has a handmade Bennett tag. Rivers Cofield told CNN she was confused. Cryptic words.

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 Why did Bennett require a “super secret hidey-hole,” as Rivers Cofield put it, to store them? She stated the buttons alone depicted

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Shakespeare's "Hamlet" Ophelia in despair and were worth more than the garment. Papers with enigmatic messages were in the dress's hidden pocket. 

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One began with Bismark, omit, leafage, buck, bank. Courtesy Sara Rivers Cofield

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