NOTICES:



A WARNING: Those site visitors of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Culture should be aware that there are photographs and images of the deceased.


AFIO DISCLAIMER:
The author of this blog is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and as such the views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the views and opinions of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, its staff or Directors.

Learn more about the Association including membership requirements at www.afio.com.


The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Somerton Man: Lawsons Diary, Does the Mold Still Exist? An Interesting Discovery & Were Entries Altered?

Paul Lawson's Diary

21st/22nd June 1949


As you can see this is an image of 1 page from Paul Lawson's Diary, Lawson was the man from Adelaide Museum that created the now famous plaster bust of the Somerton Man. The entry you see above is for the 22nd June or so it appears because the the month name has been cut off in the scan.

There are two highlighted areas, one shows the entry covering Lawson's writing of an article for the AGMA,  It is unclear just what this acronym stands for so anyone with knowledge if you could leave a comment or email that would be appreciated. Ideally we find out the subject and content of Mr. Lawson's article.

The next highlighted area is very interesting because it reads ' Discussion with Director re duplicate casts of Somerton Body'. What that seems to suggest is that on 22nd June at least, the mold from which the bust was made was still in existence, it would have been in pieces, perhaps 4 or 5 but it certainly sounds as though it was kept otherwise why use the word 'duplicate'.

The next question is this, if the duplicates were discussed, were any more busts ever actually made? We don't have an answer to that because there were only 10 pages in the whole diary that were included in the PDF document that was created by Adelaide University I believe. The total number of pages would have been 180 given that it was a full year diary.

Here's another really interesting thought, if the original mold was around at this date, is it still around now? For all we know that is a possibility, just where it may be is another question. If it does still exist, it could be at the Adelaide Museum in amongst artefacts or perhaps the University has it or South Australian Library.  On the assumption that it is still in existence then there is likelihood of DNA directly from the Somerton Man's body could still be present and trapped in the mold material.
Much depends on the method of casting used and I make no pretence about being an expert in this field.  Adelaide sleuths, this is your cue!

June 17th & 18th 1949

In this next section we look at the nature of the Diary entries and showing instances of overwriting and indentation marks yet to be recovered, does this mean that some entries were altered or erased?


Here's what makes this document questionable, above is an image showing the Diary for the dates 17th and 18th June 1949. Look closely at the first highlighted area containing the words 'Somerton body'. You will see that it has in fact been overwritten and not that well. Similarly you can clearly see evidence of overwriting in the second highlighted area, the word 'Moving'. The question is who did  that, when did they do it and what other instances are there throughout the Diary? In this case there appears to be nothing untoward about the overwrite although it may suggest that it had been initially erased.

When we come to the entry for the 18th June, there is evidence of indented writing and some of it has been overwritten but some appears to have possibly been erased. Is it possible that all of the original writing faded and was overwritten? The good news is that the June 18th. erasure or fading may be able to be recovered. We can make an effort with this digital copy or we try to get access to the original Diary which again I think may be held by either the Museum, the Library or Adelaide University.

Here's a negative image of the June 18th entry. If you download a copy, with some adjustment, you will be able to make out the feint outline of words:




Ideally if you are in Adelaide you could so some hunting or if anyone from Adelaide University is looking at this post they may be able to shed some light on this issue and hopefully publish a full copy of the entire Diary.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, AGMA-I thinks this is the meaning:"Art Galleries and Museums of Australia and New Zealand". Clive

Gordon332 said...

Thanks Clive! Have you taken a look to see any articles by Mr. Lawson in the relevant time slot? Strikes me the SM case would be a good article and it may contain something extra to follow upon. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Just been checking for info. and Paul Lawson did write an article "Plastics In The Museum" (1949) News Bulletin of the AGMA PP3. I presume this will refer to the PVA as noted on 21 June diary entry? Clive

Gordon332 said...

Thanks Clive, So the article was written after the SM bust but whether it contains any information on the bust is another matter. You're right about the 21st entry, the meeting with a rep. about PVA. Could be something worth a little more follow up. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Cannot find anything, so far, on the SM by Lawson for AGMA. I suppose it's a mite strange if nothing was written in the AGMA as it would be a 'feather' in Lawson's cap. Then again, if Lawson knew more than he was admitting, about this case, then he probably thought silence was his best option. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Interesting that he didn't publish that, I can't honestly think of another case where a bust was made. Still wondering whether the mold still exists, not sure where we go for that but probably the Museum first I guess. I'll give them a call.

On another matter, I have found an espionage case where a Rubaiyat was amongst the possessions. Hope to post about that this week plus hopefully another with a decidedly new approach to the code page.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Found following: https;//eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/.../Paul_Francis_Lawson- apparently, original mold was destroyed. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi Clive, Thanks for that, the url is not coming through clear, cn you resend the full url?

Still leaves the question of the missing pages and the apparent fading or erasures. Love to see the destruction document though. Do you have any thoughts on the pages/erasures at this stage?

Gordon332 said...

Hi CLive, Worked it out, Something not right about that statement on the page, There were methods used that didn't involve chipping away of the mold, meaning the mold comes away in 4 or 5 parts. This would tie in with Lawson's diary entry, after the mold had been removed, of meeting with the director regarding duplicate busts there would have been no point in having the meeting had the bust been destroyed..

It could also explain why we only have 10 out of an estimated 180 pages from his diary. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, I can only think that if Lawson had put pen to paper (diary) perhaps he had written certain facts he was privy to relating to the SM, which higher authorities deemed too secretive. As a result he was "requested" to either delete or re-write certain entries. It would be fascinating if the entries in his diary, which shown evidence of being re-written, could be revealed. Perhaps then we would have a better understanding of why re-writes were necessary? Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi Clive, What's interesting is the dates that are missing as well of course as the entries and the apparent erasures. A good exercise we could do is to look at the dates that are missing from the Diary to start with especially any that are missing from within the frame of the dates we do have, hope that makes sense :)

We should probably list the issues that are questionable, excuse the random thoughts! here's a starting point:
1. Detective Brown + 1, I wonder who that other one is, it crossed my mind that it could be someone coming to view the body but Lawson was working on the body creating the bust so whilst I would think it possible it's unlikely.

We have an unidentified person/s visiting the morgue with Detective Brown, that happened on the 8th and the 10th of June. On the 10th the Notation related to Brown + 1 was 'Ok ing job' That suggests that whoever + 1 was, they were involved in OK ing the work, had to be someone of note but why no name mentioned?

There's a signature at the base of page 10 'HM Hale'? wonder who that was and why on that page?

2. The next questionable aspect is Lawson's comment re visiting the Director on 22nd June to discuss making duplicate casts of the bust and this was well after the bust had been completed on the 10th. June.

Lawson does note 2 things of special interest first on 9th June, 'Piecing together Mold' that tells us that it was almost a kit of specific parts of the mold that he was assembling.

The next interesting notation was 'Breaking away mold' that was on the 9th and 10th. He was obviously takng great care in this process I would say and not chipping away but 'breaking away' To me that says they were large pieces involved maybe the sort of pieces you could conserve and pice back together for re use and hence the appointment with the Director on 22nd June.

3. Dates that are missing and within the frame are:
June: Monday 13th, Tuesday 14th,, Monday 20th., Wednesday 23rd, Thursday 24th.

4. Another interesting date is Saturday 26th, When Mrs. Thompson is brought in to view the body. Interesting that Lawson went along on the Saturday, why would he need to be there? Out of interest? Wolfram Alpha can verify the days/dates.

5. Can you take a look at the handwriting on June 1st and 2nd against later entries, the 7th in particular, see if you see what I see?

It would be great if you could add any observations you have to this comment. I appreciate your input.

Gordon332 said...

A note for others regarding the casting process for the bust. We need to consider how the mold was made in the first instance, in Lawson's notes he talks of ordering '1 cwt' of plaster that's 112 lbs in old money, just over 50 kilos. He also mentions visiting Kosters Pottery for 1 cwt of clay presumably for the mold. The ears, which according to Lawson presented the most difficult part of the task, were molded using wax. Also mentioned is 'Vinamold' wax, dental and 'Vinahold' for the plaster perhaps as an additive. Note that the head part of the mold was done in wax. See Lawsons diary for June 8th.

That does seem rather a lot of plaster and clay but a simple explanation would be that Lawson was using a contingency approach so that if one attempt didn't turn out well then he would have the materials on hand to create another mold and cast. Another thought is that he may have intended to create more than one bust.

From research done and input received, and I welcome the ideas and research of others, this is what I believe to be the process used:

Given the shape of the upper body the clay mold would have been made in parts which was and is common practice when molding difficult shapes.

A release agent is first applied to the subject so that when the mold is taken the various parts can be 'broken away' or removed from the subject.

These parts are then put back together and joined possibly using wax, the plaster mix, which contains additives to prevent cracking etc, is added to the complete mold with a release agent being applied to the inside of the mold so that it can be more readily removed/broken away from the plaster when it has dried.

Now comes the final step of removing the plaster cast from the mold and once again it is 'broken away' from the plaster cast but not chipped away which would have destroyed the mold,

This would leave the mold in pieces but it would be reusable such that duplicates of the bust could be made and that was the subject of Lawson's meeting with the Director.

I recall a note in which Professor Abbott mentions the way that Lawson took the mold of the hair and head was to apply a soap of some form with soap being a known release agent for plaster and wax from molds.

In the absence of information to the contrary, I believe this description of the process to be very close to what actually happened and I also believe that there is a distinct possibility that the original mold, maybe in pieces, still exists and possibly tucked away somewhere in the Adelaide Museum or perhaps the Adelaide University.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Diary entry 7th there is a gap after "morgue' then "with police"-were these last two words written later? I'm wondering if the entire entry was written later-not on the 7th? Herbert Mathew Hale was SA Curator and died in 1963, but why did he find it necessary to sign the diary entry/or for Lawson to require a signature? With regard to Lawson attending the viewing by Jestyn, it is strange, surely just a couple of detectives would have sufficed? Perhaps Lawson was advised to attend in case Jestyn, viewing the bust, asked him questions, about the SM, that only Lawson could answer after working on the bust. Obviously, Jestyn, if she did know the SM, didn't ask but, her reaction told its own story. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Agree with all of that Clive, it's interesting what you can find from just a few diary entries, It's the difference between just researching and investigating a subject, By drilling down the way we have, more conflicting and curious information has been revealed. There are so many inconsistencies associated with this and importantly it all happens after the book and the code have been discovered; in other words the suspicion that SM may have been a spy was well and truly established.

On the page 7 front and the gap, I will give the unusual write overs and apparent erasures a closer look and see if I can lift any of it. Should be done by the weekend

I think it timely again to review each of the inconsistencies and to that end I am going to put another post together based on what we have here and will credit you for your input of course, it's been invaluable. Thanks !

Gordon332 said...

Clive, the other issue with the handwriting on page 7 and other pages is that it looks to be a different hand to that from the 1st and 2nd. Check the letters M and W in particular.

An another issue, with regards to the molding process, I have managed to get confirmation that the mold would not have been chipped away and that it would be broken away in a number of larger pieces hence the statement by Lawson that he was to have an interview with the Director re duplicates of the bust.

It would be true to say that you can take a mold from a plaster bust but I just don't see that happening given that a big part of the bust making process is all about preserving the mold for future use.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Not sure my input is "invaluable", You've been the one digging into this more than any other, well, I suppose I'd better mention Pete Bowes! As for the diary entry of the 7th, it did go through my mind that it was not Lawson's writing and someone was trying to imitate the W & M's, the letters seem to be thicker compared to Lawson's which looks a mite spidery? Clive

Gordon332 said...

Gotta give Pete a mention :) It's a funny thing when you work with others in a combined approach, you can never be quite sure which person actually provided the impetus to push a target over the line. Sometimes a single word at the right time can act as a catalyst for others and give the project that extra 1%, hence your contribution was invaluable :) Thanks Clive, I will get onto the next post for the weekend, some fairly earth shattering stuff has recently surfaced and that is also a major priority. It might even be the post that blows the lid off.

petebowes.com said...

how come the hairs on the back of my neck are rising?

Anonymous said...

Hi, just a thought regarding the over writing of some of the words in the diary entries. I do that when i'm thinking things over, particularly when i'm on the phone, its a form of absent minded doodling I suppose. Just a thought that might explain the apparent lack of care.

petebowes.com said...

Gordon, is there any mention in Lawson's diary of Cleland's visit to the morgue, when he was accompanied by James Cowan.

Gordon332 said...

Pete, No mention in the pages I have and according to Prof Abbott these are all the pages he had with the rest being in Gerry's possession.

petebowes.com said...

Gordon, can we go back to the 8th on Lawson's notes - "Interview with detectives (Brown plus one)"
Any idea who the other detective was, any record anywhere?

Gordon332 said...

Pete, that notation appears twice in the diary, no mention is made that I can find of who the other person was. The document is questionable in many ways.

petebowes.com said...

Gordon, I wasn't questioning the document, I'm interested in who Brown was 'discussing the case with' - GF didn't mention incidents without reason.

Gordon332 said...

Pete, Yes, I understood that, the reply was that no names were mentioned that I could find. It's possible that Brown was taking people through to see if they recognised the body. Even then I would have thought that Lawson would have recorded the names but not the case. The whole document becomes 'questionable' because of issues like this one, the missing pages, the apparent erasures and overwriting examples.

Can I suggest that you go to GFs book,page 153, there are 4 images of SM there. The lower 2 were taken just prior to the bust being made; if you go to the various available images of the plaster bust, see if you can get the two sets to match.

petebowes.com said...

He was taken out of the cooler and dressed for Durham twice was he?

Gordon332 said...

The first two images are of SM just after the autopsy and the second two are after his being embalmed and chilled for some months.

I does not appear to me that the two lower images match the features of the bust either in profile or full face. See the earlier posts on the distinct differences between the images:
http://tamamshud.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/somerton-man-was-his-picture-real-or.html

http://tamamshud.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/tamam-shud-images-of-somerton-man.html

From the second link you should see that amongst other things, his nose grew and that is simply not possible if it were the same person.

petebowes.com said...

Fair enough, but I cannot find mention of Durham coming back and taking the second series of photos, do you have a GF reference page. Gordon?

Gordon332 said...

No, I have no reference for that aside from the inclusion of the pics in Gerry's book with his comment on the images. It would be correct to say that there is nothing formalised that I can find to say that JD took the second set of images. I'll read through the book again just in case there's a line somewhere.

petebowes.com said...

Was that tie in his possessions?

Gordon332 said...

I don't think the tie shown in the second set of images was amongst SM's suitcase contents.

petebowes.com said...

That's what I thought, maybe it makes no difference. What I'm really after is the date Cleland and Cowan tried on the clothes. I'm working in the assumption that they were kept with everything else in the lock-up and it was done on police rooms. What do you think?

petebowes.com said...

While we're talking about suitcase contents, I cannot find any mention of the loupe in any of the lists published. (I'm using the list on GF 155 for reference)

Gordon332 said...

The question is, Is it a loupe or is it part of a broken pair of scissors? I have searched for scissors with a handle that looks like the one in the image but without success. Doesn't mean that there aren't any but it's starting to look less likely.

petebowes.com said...

Try searching for an antique navigational loupe -

Gordon332 said...

Yes, I have given that a good try. The issue is the 'twisted cord' effect which may be a cord or may be turned metal. Nothing quite fills the bill to date at least. There are Jewellers loupes and there were and probably still are loupes for engravers, stamp collectors, bank note examiners and you're correct in that there were also navigational loupes. In fact any where there was fine detail work to be examined there was generally a loupe.

Gordon332 said...

This gets close, it's a monocle magnifyer:
http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/Eclecticasia/6417873/mens_style_monocle_magnifierlens_with_suede_cord_diopter_1_25/handmade/accessories/eyewear/other

petebowes.com said...

I've taken your advice on another matter, and am looking at PTs' classifieds using the Glenelg number before he moved in after the baby was born in July 47.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Apparently, the second Detective was called Schwartz (per the Eleceng website). There was a Sgt L. H.Schwarz in the early 1940's-same man? He lived in Prospect-same suburb as Lawson! Clive