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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Argento-Platinoid Dispatch Box  
  Impenetrable message carriers.  

"Here's the dispatch box, sir. But it's sealed."

"Sealed! Well I'll be darned." Penger looked disconsolately at the square box of argento-platinoid that Britt held out to him. "That's a tough note. Suppose we lose that somehow—only Bell knew where that deposit is; and he's gone."

Even captains of interplanetary trading ships are sometimes venal, and Mitco was ever willing to pay well for a glimpse of the reports and other dispatches that shuttle across the skies between the Earth Company's far flung stations and the great Central Headquarters at Denver.

Hence these dispatch boxes were devised. Once sealed, they could not be opened save by the intricate unsealing apparatus that existed only at Denver and, by virtue of the supreme power of the B. P. C., at such control points of the august body as the Mineral Claims Office on Ganymede Any attempt to get at the contents by force, released a chemical within that utterly destroyed everything enclosed.

From Venus Mines, Incorporated, by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat).
Published by Wonder Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Compare to the message cylinders from Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune and the personal capsule from Isaac Asimov's 1951 novel Foundation.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Venus Mines, Incorporated
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)
  Tech news articles related to Venus Mines, Incorporated
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)

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