In the nineteenth century, secret societies and covert communication were an integral part of sharing information and accomplishing political and religious missions. It was a critical time when certain friendships in America and Europe were perilous and correspondence was intertwined with cyphers, art, and cryptic codes to pass along necessary information. Following the American Civil War, spanning a generation from 1870–1910, the greatest mass immigration to the United States occurred with an estimated forty million people. Most fled from famines and war to start a new life in America. Approximately five million of this wave of immigrants made New York City their home where a new city emerged from their hard work and labor. They were mostly Catholic and were of European descent. Discrimination against them was widespread, and as a source of refuge, they congregated in the Catholic Church.
Saint-Gaudens Cypher teaches history in this tale, which tells the story of Gwen Young, an NYU art history graduate student, whose life is suddenly changed forever when her great-uncle Arthur, a former art historian, dies. Gwen inherits a rare family heirloom, and she soon discovers within its folds a mysterious treasure—a golden medallion. Arthur’s last wish was for Gwen to decipher its meaning, but she must proceed with caution. With the help of her former love interest, David, the two venture to Paris, Rome, and Washington D.C. where the world of art, history, religion, and politics converge. Little do they know that while they are in the depths of discovering one of America’s most best kept secrets involving a President of the United States, others are aware of the rare medallion and will stop at nothing to obtain it.