Found lost seed phrase from 2015 behind picture frame... Actually two of them. BUT I have no idea what wallet it goes to. 12 word phrase. The words are not recognized as part of the bip32 word set. Importing to electrum and scanning for old accounts yields nothing.

I went to length to make sure I didnt lose the phrase.. Nobody warned that something like this could be an issue.

Maybe to start if anyone knows where I could find an archive of old word lists from outdated wallets to see if I can match some of the non bip3 words with another format?

Of course I will be generous if anyone is able to help!!!

  • Are you sure that they refer to Bitcoin? It might be for a different asset.
    – Murch
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 16:39

3 Answers 3


Back then, everyone knowledgeable was aware that

I have no idea what wallet it goes to

would lead to a loss of funds.

Only BIP32/BIP39 compatibility has solved that problem.

Any "words encoding numerical secrets" technology in those days, if not Electrum, was proprietary to a particular exchange, website or wallet creation tool.


Maybe just a password?

  • back then I didn't fathom the possibility that someone would use a word list compatible with electrum but for a proprietary wallet. seems almost malicious.. It may very well have been some random web page generated seeds from a site like myetherwallet, which i thought it might be at first but its not the same word list.
    – Colby
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:37

BIP-32 is about Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets

BIP-39 is about Mnemonic Seed Phrases and includes a fixed English word list as well as word lists for other languages.

Before version 2.0 Electrum used its own word list for seed phrases that predated BIP-39 and so was different from it.

Electrum 2.0 was released in early 2015 and supported BIP-32 but introduced a new system for seed phrases that was different from BIP-39 and which did not use a fixed word list - I believe it will derive a seed from any set of twelve word-like character strings. If you feed it a set of words from a BIP-39 word-list it won't generate the same seed as BIP-39 - which might catch out the unwary.

I have not heard of other word-lists but doubtless they exist.


Potentially useful links:

  • seems to be legacy electrum word list, but when i import either of the wallets as legacy wallets it shows no accounts in electrum. thats where I had gotten to. Any ideas? Thanks!!!
    – Colby
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:03
  • I would try everything described in bitcoinelectrum.com/frequently-asked-questions/… Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:17
  • I had went through those before but I just realized when I hit show addresses it brings up about 20 different ones but none of them have any tx or balance. However I'm sure that even if these wallets are empty there were many transactions. Both of the seed phrases have 10-20 receiving and change addresses but show no transactions at all. Before posting here i had come to the conclusion that it was not an electrum seed because of this behavior, but i could be wrong?
    – Colby
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:27
  • So from reading this: bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/50050/… It seems that change addresses are generated when you send funds. I have several change addresses. But my transaction history shows no transactions. How is this possible or am I confused?
    – Colby
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:34
  • Electrum generates some change addresses in advance Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:51

Maybe it s irrelevant right now, but in case you are still searching maybe it was the passphrase to an encrypted "wallet.dat". If that is the case, without the wallet.dat there is nothing else you can do.


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