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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.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Somerton Man: The Book Hoax?

SM Copy of the Rubaiyat

I'll keep this post short and to the point. I should make it clear that this post is really meant for the inhabitants of another blog.

It seems to me that our friends at the other blog are having some difficulty in grasping the issues associated with the recently 'discovered' copy of the Rubaiyat.

Could it be that I haven't given them enough in the way of hints and clues?

In the previous post, I described the copy that Dave put forward as being remarkably similar to the JW version and waited for, what I thought would be, the outcry from the another blog declaring that they had 'found the real problem', I was to be disappointed. More on this shortly.

Not only did I say that Dave's copy was remarkably similar, I had also described how I had used the JW copy and turned it into greyscale for comparison. Still no response.

I thought I'd give it another shot and posted a comment in Pete Bowes', tomsbytwo blog stating that I thought that Dave's book was a scan, that got a response, at least from Dave. But. sadly not the response I expected so let's go through it again.

On the right is the copy of Dave's book that he posted on an image sharing site. You can see the pages quite clearly and you can see it's wrongly cropped by virtue of the crescent moon to the top right, it's far too close to the top edge of the page. Printers are a funny lot, they like to do things precisely. You can also see the thread in two locations and there is too much space between them. You might also note that there are no 'crease marks' where the pages should have, at one time, met. But there is something else. Let's move on to the comparison image.

In the image below you can see the JW version on the left, the SM original version as published in the SA press and finally the version presented by Dave on the right.

Now, what do you see? If you are still having some difficulty, let me help you. On the left is the JW version of the page, in the centre, is the SM version and to the right is the version presented by Dave. What is it about them that is surprising?

Got it yet?

Yes, that's right, they are all greyscale images including Dave's copy. The courage and friendship series to my knowledge was not printed in greyscale and especially not in a grey scale that so closely matched the JW version, a version that was originally in colour. SM's copy, when published wasn't in colour it was in greyscale because the press, at that time, didn't show coloured images.

Now you know why I think that Dave's version was scanned. I have to hand it to you Dave, you had them all convinced, especially when you pointed them back, not once but twice, to the original post on this blog where the comparison of all three as greyscale was first shown. It made me smile and I seriously appreciate the way it was done.


  1. A video of the book can be found here:

    And a second softcover book has now been located from another Polish refugee who is in his 80s.

    Pictures of both book alongside each other are here:

    Could you please explain to everyone as to why you think this is a hoax?

    1. The above post describes the reason why I think the pages where scanned. In fact you will see from this and other posts made on this blog and the tomsbytwo blog, I never referred to it as a hoax or a fake. I told everyone that I thought it was scanned and that there were issues with amongst other things the thread used in binding, way to rough a finish.

      Having said that I am now starting to think that it may be a 'hoax' or at least a thing known as a 'False Imprint' in other words a pirated copy or possibly two. Those who recall the Marshall case will know of the fact that whilst a supposed 7th edition of the book was found with the body Methuen, the publisher, never actually printed a seventh edition. Indeed when you examine the image of the preface on the Marshall book you will find reasonably clear issues with the font. Another seventh edition was found in recent years and it has the same problems.

      Now, back to Dave and his versions. Because they look to be grey scale images in both copies and because of the position of the crescent moon on the upper right final/Tamam Shud page plus the extremely poor book binding thread work, these are indicators of the likelihood of the hard back version being a false imprint.

      The question is, is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, because the SM copy of the SM book has also long been thought to have been a false imprint.

      What I suggest you do is to place a decent ruler alongside both books, width and height, and then photograph every page in both books. The reason for that is because there are some things that you should find printed in those copies and if they are missing or the font is in some way out of line, as some does seem to be in the pages presented thus far, then you more than likely have a false imprint which some would call a 'hoax' copy.

      Dave may have come across a source of false imprinted copies of the ROK, now that would be interesting.

      I look forward to seeing the results of your efforts Dave.

  2. I think you might do well to ask the opinion of an old-time letter-press printer. It looks to me as if the font used for Dave's book is very similar, but not identical to the other two.

    For example, look at the third line - the space between the "G" and "u" of Guests. Also the distance between the crossbar and the bottom hook of the "t" looks to me a smidgen longer in Dave's version. Added to that, the stitching (of the quires) looks distinctly amateur in Dave's copy. Of course, for all I know such things may be produced by photo-shopp'ng a scan to make it seem like a different edition - but why bother?

    Why not just copy another of the hundreds of editions?

    1. Thanks Dianne, I agree and it does make you wonder. But if these are false imprints as I suspect, and they were produced in a backyard print shop, then in days gone by that was a practice and it may have been done for profit. It's also possible that someone may see a dollar in doing that even in this day and age. On Abebooks in the past few weeks, a copy similar to the Dave copy was sold for $91 AUD.

      A good question as to why it would be this particular edition. I don't have an answer for that.

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    1. Well Dave, you are right to do things in your own time. For waht its worth, if you are going to get the books looked at I would seriously suggest that you go to:
      or to your National Library. There you would get an expert view of the books. When you do your video it might be useful to include the joins between pages in close up.

      I wish you all the best.

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  5. Well Dave, had a look at your video. Can you show us the copyright page and the publishers information page? In the Courage & Friendship version you will find them close to the front of the book as you will in any hard copy published by Whitcombe & Tombs.

  6. Gordon, I've been looking into the 7th Methuen edition found on George Marshall, and it's not a false imprint. See my blog on it:

  7. Good looking blog and a great post, well thought through and researched as one would expect from you Barry. I have a question though, it relates to the verse that was highlighted. When I checked out the previous normal editions for that verse, it did not appear on the same page in the 7th edition. Would that be as a result of miniaturising the book or was there some other reason. I noted that the 3rd and 4th editions had textual variations but what of the others?

    Unable to post a comment on the blog nor give it a 'like', gremlins at work :)