"The Heart of Empire" 

"LeMarchand's Horoptrum Device"

Art research by Steelgohst

Written research by Mark Adams, José Leitão, and Steelgohst

The Hollow Heart
"The Heart of Empire" -
Steelgohst, 2007

"This fourteenth puzzle of LeMarchand's is activated by arranging the numerous surface plates in a manner similar to the arrangement of the streets of New York City in the time of its construction."

Text excerpted from Tucker's Encyclopedia of Mass Murderers,  p. 198



From the research desk of Mark Adams

Paris - 1749

The Hollow Heart was one of the infamous “missing” LeMarchand boxes that was, until recently, suspected to be only a myth. Though the name was mentioned in a few texts dealing with LeMarchand, there were no documented reports of it beyond this. No accounts of its use, nor any copies of the puzzle known to exist. This was the case right up until 2001, when LeMarchand scholars achieved a break through, discovering detailed drawings of it's panels in a tome known as LeMarchand's Dreams.

The Hollow Heart entry from the 18th Century manuscript "LeMarchand's Dreams"
Courtesy of NG Industries - 2007


Further research uncovered The Journal of Samuel Waterfield, written by an Englishman who lived in France between 1746 and 1750, in which The Hollow Heart was again mentioned. However, scholars now knew that it had been created in France in 1749, and by analysing the various journal entries, that it was probably completed in late November.

Presented here is the journal extract that was the first step on the journey to uncovering the details of one of LeMarchand’s “missing” puzzle boxes.

“It was only upon my third meeting with LeMarchand that I witnessed some of the subdued menace that many others had spoken of, and which I had previously assumed was borne from professional jealousy. In the previous two meetings, he had been nothing but a gentleman, and I must admit, I was most surprised by his behaviour considering the stories I had heard of him.  However, my opinion was altered at a social gathering to commemorate the anniversary of the death of some local philanthropist – I rarely kept up with local politics and most of the time only turned up to such engagements in order to keep my dear wife happily immersed in whatever gossip spreads in those circles.  But I digress, something I am, alas, prone to do and will endeavour to avoid in future.  Returning to my tale, I had left my wife in the company of some painfully dull friends of hers and had decided to try and seek out LeMarchand who I was reliably informed, had arrived some thirty minutes previous.


Though it didn’t take me long to locate him, I was unable to speak to him.  The truth is, it was less that I was unable to, but more that I no longer felt the desire to do so.  As I had approached from across the room, I witnessed LeMarchand being introduced to a surprisingly young gentleman I did not recognise.  It was clear that LeMarchand not only already knew who this mysterious gentleman was, but that they had some sort of history together.  The tension that built as the two set eyes upon each other spread out across the large room, and lowered every voice to barely a whisper.  I failed to hear the precise words exchanged, few that there were, but I gleamed a few details. The man was also French, that much was obvious, and seemed very much surprised to see LeMarchand, who I thought I heard address the man as Jacques though I could not say for certain.  I heard talk of a Princess, perhaps someone they both knew.  Before I could covertly position myself any nearer, LeMarchand turned on his heels and removed himself from the conversation.  Part of me desired to follow him and see if I could gleam more secrets of the mysterious confrontation, but having seen the look in LeMarchand’s eyes before he left, I decided against that course of action.  The gaze he had given “Jacques” was so full of menace and contempt, that even to think of it now fills me with feelings of unease. 


Some days later I heard rumour that LeMarchand, so incensed by the encounter, had left the house and immediately travelled back to his abode to begin work on a new puzzle.  I do not know the truth of this rumour, but I do know that it was but a fortnight later that LeMarchand first presented a new puzzle box that he referred to as The Hollow Heart.”


 - The Journal of Samuel Waterfield, 1763


The Hollow Heart
Photograph by Max Lichtor, 2008

Following a detailed analysis of the journal, and researches conducted into other accounts of the same specific period, scholars were able to uncover yet more information about this previously allusive puzzle. Most important was the information that the puzzle had also been known as The Heart of Empire. Up until this point, The Heart of Empire had been considered another of LeMarchand’s “missing puzzles”.  The revelation that it was, in fact, the same puzzle as The Hollow Heart was quite a surprising one.  However, by combining the known information about the ‘two’ puzzles, scholars were able to uncover yet more information that would eventually lead to the discovery of the first known copy of The Hollow Heart.

Caleb Johnson was an American writer who travelled to Europe in 1748.  In his two years spent travelling, he heard a lot of talk of LeMarchand and his puzzles. Though little remains of his work, sadly he never achieved the success for which he'd hoped.  Some scraps of paper survived a fire at his house during the summer of 1751, a blaze he was not so fortunate to avoid. One of these made mention of The Heart of Empire, but gave no further clues to its whereabouts.  However, it was known that he had been in France during the winter of 1749.  Using this information, LeMarchand scholars managed to track down a written account of a meeting between Caleb and LeMarchand that had been recorded by parties unknown.

The relevant extract is presented below. Though written from the first person, the hand writing on the original document did not match that of Caleb Johnson.
“I didn’t think much of this supposed genius.  He stank of alcohol, and his manner was far from coherent.  From what I could understand from our talks, (which were not aided by my own weakness for wine), was that he was having trouble with some new puzzle he’d been working on.  He told me the idea had struck him when, two days previous, he had left a party in such a rage that he paid no attention to where he was going and became lost. Wandering the streets, alone and cold, he was struck how negotiating them was not unlike how one would unlock the secrets of one of his indecipherably popular puzzle boxes.  He told me he rarely drank, but had been so plagued by nightmares, that he had relented on this occasion. Apparently, though he had been inspired by his wanderings, he had no focus and was having difficulty with the puzzle.  I said to him, in jest, that perhaps he should try and wander the streets of New York at night, as that was surely a far greater puzzle.  Instead of finding humour, it was as if all the poison had been flushed from his body, his mind becoming instantly clear and sharp.  Without saying anything, and with just a small sinister smile, he got up and left.”

~ Caleb Johnson speaking to unknown parties, unknown date.

The Hollow Heart
Photograph by Mark Adams, 2009

The document goes on to report that a few days later, Caleb received a gift from LeMarchand, with a note expressing his gratitude for the inspiration that allowed him to continue work on a box he was provisionally referring to as The Heart of Empire. The gift was one of LeMarchand’s most famous constructs, a Lament Configuration.  It is believed Caleb kept this with him, and had it on display at his house when he returned to America.  However, after his house burnt down, there was no sign of the puzzle box… just as there was no sign of the young writer's remains.

The Hollow Heart
- photograph by Jose Leitao, 2008

The biggest question of all was, of course, why LeMarchand had neglected to elaborate about this particular puzzle in his own journal beyond one fleeting reference.  Though there has yet to be any definitive answer, scholars have speculated that knowledge of it was suppressed by the Order of the Freemasons, who were unhappy with the puzzle's unique connection to New York.

A study of the map of Washington D.C. will demonstrate the hidden Masonic imagery within the heart of America.  Facing the Capitol Building from the Mall, and using the Capitol building as the head or top of the Compass, the left leg is represented by Pennsylvania Avenue, and the right leg by Maryland Avenue.  The Square is found in the usual Masonic position, at the intersection of Canal Street and Louisiana Avenue.  The left leg of the Compass stands on the White House, and the right leg stands on the Jefferson Memorial.  The circle drive and short streets behind the building form the head and ears of what is clearly an upside down pentagram, sitting atop the White House.



The Pentagram, or five-pointed star is both a Masonic symbol and the ancient symbol of witchcraft.  With its point facing down, (or south, when placed on the ground), it is especially associated with Satanism, although the symbol itself has less negative origins. Originally representing the four elements and spirit, the corruption of the symbol into Satanism has caused a great deal of conflict in recent years between rightwing Christianity and pagan groups around the world.  Religious conflict, it has been suggested, is part of a greater scheme by a group called the Order of the Gash.  Little is known about them, but examinations of ancient conspiratorial texts link them to the Cenobites, and the worship of a demon named Leviathan.  This is clearly linked to LeMarchand’s work, although evidence into this matter is not only scarce, but outside the remit of this particular article of research.



The inverted pentagram is also the emblem of the Order of the Eastern Star, another Masonic organisation that was created in 1850.  This symbolises how the power of America, and the heart of the ‘Empire State’, is under the influence of Masonry.  The Washington Monument stands in perfect line to the intersecting point of the form of the Masonic square, stretching from the House of the Temple to the Capitol building.  Within the hypotenuse of that right triangle sits many of the headquarters buildings for the most powerful departments of government, such as the Justice Dept., U.S. Senate and the Internal Revenue Service.

Every key Federal building from the White House to the Capitol Building has had a cornerstone laid in a ritual and had specific Masonic paraphernalia placed in each one.  LeMarchand was known to have had dealings with various Masonic sects, and he certainly would have been aware of the significant power of such groups. It is known that LeMarchand at one point sought to be commissioned to design the White House itself, and had this happened, one suspects that we would have had even more intricate details hidden within the very heart of America.

This still does not answer the final question of why the Heart of Empire was designed, for what purpose, and why its history has been obscured.  The final piece of the puzzle perhaps lies in an account of LeMarchand discovered amongst documents belonging to a recently deceased man, living within Washington, whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons.  The account, probably from a journal, was incomplete and badly damaged.  What follows is all the surviving material that could be salvaged:

“... could be but it angered him greatly.  We explained our reasons for his rejection and, when this did not pacify him, I admit to revealing my own distaste with his work.  This seemed to work as he went silent, leaving with little argument...

... find LeMarchand an insidious fellow who disguises his own corruption and infernal appetites with sweet words and a vainer of sophistication.  I have often suspected that if one were to scratch away at the surface, something rotten would come crawling out...

... bribery is the name of his game now, it seems as he has decided to supply me one of his damned toys.  Love’s Easy Tears he called it, in his usual pretentious style.  If he thinks such an attempt will sway me then he has a lot to learn, the damn box can burn as fire wood for all I care...

It was the strangest thing, the box refused to burn despite sitting in the flames for hours.  I don’t know what devilry he was using but I wasn’t about to give in to his mind games and so I had the box taken into the grounds and tossed down the well and a letter written to LeMarchand where I...

... another damn box, apparently his latest creation.  The man's a damn fool.  I hope he kept his designs as this latest toy will go the same way as the other.  Strangest thing though, his letter said it was a very personal Box, made from the Heart of the state itself...

... are dead!  Their bodies were found, bones and fat removed, a disgusting travesty.  I will be contacting the order in the morning as I can’t help but think LeMarchand was involved somehow.  Yet since I heard the news, that damn box has... I don’t know, I actually cannot find the words but despite my hatred of it and that toymaker I can’t bring myself to be rid of it.  His letter said its puzzle was simple, the solution lies in echoing the streets of Washington.  Even as I write these words I find myself wondering, would an examination of the box reveal some hideous clue to LeMarchand’s involvement in the deaths of my fellow Masons?  Perhaps...”

It should be noted the rest of that final account is not obscured by damage, but by thick bloodstains on the sheets that seem to have smudged the still wet ink.  However, it seems likely that this tells some of the story behind the Hollow Heart, and other historical documents allow us to identify the man talking.  Though he cannot be named here, it can be noted that he disappeared over night, the only clue remaining was a blood stained pentagram drawn on the floor of his room, his removed-heart placed in the centre.  The crime was never solved, and neither the puzzle nor LeMarchand’s letter were ever found.

A replica of the box has now been discovered in a private collection, and reports of other sightings have reached the Pyramid Gallery.  It has taken some time, but a copy has been obtained, suggesting LeMarchand made more than one version of this design.  Gallery staff will be verifying its authenticity as soon as possible.

At the time of The Hollow Heart's construction, ninety-six Parisians had been murdered by LeMarchand.


.1785: New York is named the U.S. capital.

It is said that George Washington, traveling through the Bronx, cried
"Surely this is the seat of the empire!" originating the name,
the Empire State.

The Hollow Heart
Photograph by Max Lichtor, 2008

From the research collected by José Leitão

Lately, there has been some speculation by a small number of Lemarchand scholars that the puzzle box known as The Hollow Heart was designed to be an advanced form of horoptrum  - an instrument first invented by German mathematician and astronomer Nicholas Kratzer in the early sixteenth century.  The horoptrum  was a measuring device which could also be used, among other things, to calculate the times of sunrise and sunset. 

Nicholas Kratzer - painted by Hans Holbein in 1528

Nicholas Kratzer was a Bavarian, born in Munich in 1487 and matriculated at the University of Cologne in 1506. He moved to the University of Wittenburg but by 1517 he was undertaking mysterious errands for Desiderius Erasmus.of Rotterdam. At the age of 30, he arrived in England and by 1520, his posts included being Tutor in Mathematics to the children of Sir Thomas More, lecturer in astronomy at Cardinal Wolsey's new Oxford College as well as horologer and part-time diplomat to Henry VIII. One sundial which he made for Cardinal Wolsey is now in the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. Another one was made for use outside the Corpus Christi College.

Later on, Kratzer also became Henry VIII's astrologer. In the 16th century astrology was very similar to astronomy. Both were very mathematical subjects. Kratzer was a friend of Hans Holbein who was Henry VIII's painter. Holbein painted a famous portrait of his friend Kratzer surrounded by mathematical instruments. The original painting is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris. A copy is in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Kratzer had many friends back home and often received information about political events in Germany. Because of this some people think he was also a spy, who sent information back and forth from Germany to England.

Nicholas Kratzer devoted his life not merely to astronomical theory but also instrument-making, as well as various practical and utilitarian applications of mathematics. Kratzer's library accumulated at Oxford eventually was dispersed among private persons after his death in 1550; and a good deal of his books came into the hands of Dr. John Dee. In his turn, Dee would also suffer the loss of a great deal of his extensive library when in 1589 he returned to Mortlake after six years away from England.

The Hollow Heart with skull
- photograph by Jose Leitao, 2008

When Lemarchand was introduced to and ultimately joined the Société des Neuf Sœurs rooted in Paris' Academie des Sciences thanks to a great uncle's influence (in 1776, the society would become Les Neuf Sœurs Lodge, belonging to the Grand Orient de France), he gained access to a selection of books and treatises from Dr. John Dee and consequently Nicholas Kratzer, including a copy of the Canones Horoptri, written by the Fleming Peter Meghen, illuminated with initials by Holbein. It is believed that this inspired him later on to develop the Hollow Heart incorporating into its mechanism some of the concepts and designs presented in the books and treatises he acquired and copied.

"The tools Kratzer needed to construct his astronomical instruments are shown with great precision. In his right hand he holds a pair of compasses; in his left an unfinished polyhedral dial, the gnomens of which lie on the table. Various mathematical and astronomical instruments for instance, a pivoting ruler; ruling knife, burin, scissors and another dialling instrument. The piece of paper is inscribed in Latin: ‘The portrait of Nicolaus Kratzer of Munich, a Bavarian, taken from life when he was completing his forty-first year.’"

New York 1791

From the research desk of Steelgohst

It is believed that The Hollow Heart was used as a horoptrum device to design the city of Washington D.C., the new capital of America in 1791 by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a Paris born Architect, who studied at the royal academy before moving to America and enrolling to fight in the American Revolution.

After the war, L'enfant, having adopted the name Peter Charles L’Enfant, created a civil engineering firm in New York.  In 1791, he was appointed by President George Washington to design a new capital.  He was dismissed by the president in 1792 as a result of his poor temperament, and his demands that the city be realised as a whole.  This had brought him into conflict with the district commissioners, (who had wanted the funds available channeled into federal buildings), and they had the support of Thomas Jefferson.  So the project was passed to Andrew Ellicott, who was originally employed only to survey the city, and the money owed to L'Enfant for the work he had done went unpaid.

After many years of trying to get what was owed him by the U.S. government, he was embittered and turned to darker means to find justice, whereupon LeMarchand's Horoptrum Device was used to measure the sunset of Ellicott's life.

Incensed by his rejection, the fact that Ellicott had changed his original city designs, and the fact he had spent so much of his life in service to America only to be treated so badly,  The Box was delivered to Andrew Ellicott in 1805.  It took him 15 years to divine its solution, whereupon L'Enants revenge was finally realised.

Some 5 years later L'Enfant died in poverty and was buried in Princes County, Maryland.
The Hollow Heart aligned in it's Horoptrum Configuration.
Excerpted from the 18th Century manuscript "LeMarchand's Dreams"
Photo copy courtesy of NG Industries -

The reason why LeMarchand chose to include street plans of New York in the box are unknown.  Theories range from the bland, (that LeMarchand simply wished to include Americas two greatest cities), to the extreme (that the sewers of New York include hidden in their design the sighil 'Odegra').  Whichever is correct, two things are fact.  That LeMarchand was and is the most prolific serial killer ever to escape justice, and 'The Hollow Heart' was the work of a psychopathic genius.

Over the many years that LeMarchand was active in his work, it is the considered opinion of scholars that several hundred boxes were created, many of which remain to be unearthed.  Some having been cherished heirlooms passed through generations within families who often have no idea of what they hold.  Some were hidden from others who covet them, or perhaps in many cases buried or thrown into lakes and oceans by those trying to escape them.  It is thought that no one has yet dared try to destroy one, for fear of what might be unleashed.

The Hollow Heart - Photograph by Max Lichtor, 2008

Further research from the desk of Steelgohst

The Twin Heart

We have received a somewhat battered photograph from a researcher who followed a trail to the island of St. Eustatius near to Puerto Rico.  The photograph is of a box which would appear to be the twin of The Hollow Heart.  The twin itself has yet to be found, but the photograph that confirms its existence was discovered in the cellar of a small and unofficial church in Oranjestad.

Our agent had been following a trail she believed would lead to the truth behind The Hollow Heart.  Upon leaving a local bar, she received a tip in the form of a handwritten note that was found in her coat pocket.  It said simply:
"You don't understand. they never understand.   What you seek is not all that is, and all that is, is more than you can know."' 
There followed an address and a warning;
"Only if you understand fully what is at risk, should you proceed further.  There is more to be lost than mere flesh."
After sending us the photograph, our agent failed to check in with us again.  So far we have not been able to locate her.
Our research department places the age of the photograph to be around 1975.
Work is now progressing to try and find the missing twin.

File: #120109-11

Subject: Puzzle Box Discovery

Dear Pyramid Gallery,

I am writing as an artist whose interests have involved both the delightful history of Lemarchand's boxes (the fact and fiction of which is always difficult to seperate) and the photography of the female form in all its glory.

You will, I am sure, appreciate my surprise when these two worlds collided. In a collection of photography, the theme of which was women with antiques and old curiosities, I found the attached image. Imagine my shock when I realised that this was not only seemingly a Lemarchand box, but also the fabled Hollow Heart!

I attempted to contact the photographer but received no reply. Upon investigating an address I had obtained I found myself questioned by the police: the artist had gone missing! Alas, I do not know anything further but I believed this would be of interest to the gallery. I hope this has been of use, and I shall continue to follow your research into the works of Phillip Lemarchand.


A Follower

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