Monday, 20 July 2020



In this post we are going to get "up close and personal" with a book. The book in question is this one,  An Australasian Publishing Company, hardback edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, dated 1944, in fact it's a dual language version being Malayasian and English:


Image of micro code written into join of Boxall Rubaiyat

The page above shows what appears to be a fine line between the inscription page and the title page.

The image below is a close-up of that same line and you can see that it contains a series of micro written letters and numbers:

Micro writing in book join of Boxall Rubaiyat

Title page of Boxall rubaiyat showing micro writing within printed textSha'ir Omar Khayyam. The Rubaiyat. Inscribed by A W Hamilton: Hamilton, A W; Fitzgerald, E

This is the book that's sometimes referred to as the Verse 70 version, the one, that according to Alf Boxall, an Australian Army Lieutenant, was given to him as a gift by a trainee nurse, Jessica Harkness.

Image of Lieutenant Alf Boxall in uniform

Photograph of Jessica Harkness, Adelaide

They had met one August evening in 1945 at the Clifton Gardens Hotel overlooking Chowder Bay, in a harbour side suburb of Sydney. The hotel overlooked Alf's place of work when in Sydney, the 4th Water Transport company. He had transferred there from the 24th Northern Australia Observer Unit in June 1943 as a Lance Corporal but didn't take his post up until September 1943. Promotion came uncommonly quickly and Alf was promoted to Lieutenant in December 1943

Photograph of Choder Bay and Clifton Gardens Hotel in the background 1949

The above image was taken in April 1945 and in the foreground, you can see some of the buildings used by The Water Transport Company. In fact the one you see is the building for the 7th Water Transport Company.  But, you can say that this was very close to Alf's place of work.

The large building just behind and to the left is the Clifton Gardens Hotel as was at that time. Sadly the fine building was demolished in the late 1960s.

Jess had apparently handwritten one of the verses from the book, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, into a flyleaf as you can see here. It was verse 70.

Image of Boxall Rubaiyat opened at the inscription and title page showing handwritten verse

This ubiquitous book was well-read in Australia during the 40s, everyone, well almost everyone had a copy, not always this particular version as you will see in another post.

Let's take a closer look at the inscription page.

I have highlighted some areas of the inscription for you.

Firstly, you can see that very fine writing has been inserted into the letter 'e' following the 't' in 'Repentance' and then inside the other letters as highlighted:

Image showing micro writing on boook cover edge and in words Boxall Rubaiyat

In fact every word in this handwritten verse 70 contains micro writing just like this example.

It has been finely and expertly done.

Now take a look at the book cover edge at the top of the above image. Do you notice anything different about it? It looks a little fuzzy, almost out of focus doesn't it?

In fact, it's not fuzzy at all, when we get close to it, you can see that skillfully written into the darker areas of the pattern on the edge of the book is yet more micro written letters and numbers.

Image of micro writing in the pattern of he Boxall Rubaiayt book cover edge.

Now let's look at another example. This time we are looking at the number 70 and surrounding words. Again, specific areas have been highlighted for you:

Highlighted micro writing on edge and in the number 70

Micro writing in the written words and the number 70

Photo of micro writing written in a line next to the book cover edge


Title Page:
Close up image showing micro writing within the printed text

Image of apparent line drawn between the inscription and title pages

An apparent line is drawn at the join of the open pages.

Close up of line showing concealed micro code:

Micro writing shown in page join

It is very impressive work, you can see where a different colour occurs in some micro written letters and numbers, some look more like pencil marks.

As a matter of interest, the number 70 was not put in place until after Alf Boxall was interviewed by Stuart Littlemore for a TV programme in the 70s. Alf had produced the book and at that stage there was no number 70 showing.

It seems that Mr Littlemore was handed a book containing concealed code, and he didn't see it,  which, no doubt, caused Alf to smile on more than one occasion during that particular interview.

The fact that the number 70 contains micro writing as you can see above, tells us that Alf put it there after the interview and that he or another person was very capable and skilled at the task of concealing coded messages.

And there's something more. Look at the dark line that runs alongside and between the page and the book cover edge.

Yet again the skilled work of a professional is evident, microcode written and concealed into the dark line. I am of the view that Alf added that dark line after the Littlemore interview.

The Title Page

Just one last image. This time we have the image of the bunch of grapes from the title page which is adjacent to the verse 70 inscription.

Micro written codes shown inside the grapes illusration and leeaves shapes
Grapes Illustration

At first glance, it looks quite normal but on closer examination, there are markings around each grape. The markings are, of course' micro written letters and numbers (in this case I applied a little liquid I use for light removal of ultra-thin layers of ink) It's important to let your eyes focus on the image and you'll see the letters and numbers are in every grape and the outlines of the leaves.

The work is very fine, each grape and the shape of each leaf is made up of micro written letters and numbers, a code?


You have just been given your first lesson in the concealment of secret messages and all hidden in plain sight. The correct term I am assured is clandestine communications.

The two pages that you have viewed contain far more code and concealment than we have shown here, there will be an opportunity to access that additional work later.

The questions:

So now what?

We have proof that the Boxall book has microcode, we also know that microcode is to be found in the code page and the torn piece and one other item but that's for later. It would be naive in the extreme if we were to dismiss this information as just a 'technique', it is far more and it may just lead us to identify some more names. The next post will be worth waiting for.

1. Was this version of the book a 'custom' job? Having learned a good deal about this particular subject, I know that writing this finely requires a particular kind of paper, not the sort normally used by printers, and that's just the start.

2. Is this book filled with real code or is it, in fact, a training manual? There are so many concealment methods used on the two pages, I could not see it being used in the field. In fact, to my knowledge, this book and its code is the only example of micro written codes that exists in the public arena at least. It's a reality that if a real message were passed using this concealment method, it would of necessity, be destroyed in the recovery/development process at that time, hence other examples may or may not exist.

My belief is that Alf was training Jess and perhaps other 'nurses' in the use of codes and their concealment. But there is another question, just who was he training them for?

Australian Intelligence involvement?

It is known that Leo Marks, a leading British SOE code man in WW2, hired girls from the British Nursing Yeomanry specifically for code-breaking purposes wi the more talented ones became field agents. It's also known that SOE was represented in Australia by Commander Rupert Long who was always near the top of the Intelligence world in those days, codes were shared with Australian Intelligence by SOE. Interestingly, those girls from the Nursing Yeomanry never passed their nursing exams and neither did Jess until some years later. Was that because of her pregnancy or was she recruited for other duties?

Between Silk and Cyanide: a Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 : Leo Marks ...

Leo was also a fan of using poems as part of his code repertoire, the most famous being one used Violet Szabo, 'The Life that I have'

If not that side of the game then maybe this one?

TAMAM SHUD, The Somerton Man Mystery: Somerton Man: Jestyn: Links ...

Or perhaps even both?

The next post will have some answers, some more questions, and a few surprises.



  1. An important question in relation to this particular copy of the book is, was it a special purpose book? Was it created, printed and bound specifically for clandestine use? Such things were done and during those early Cold War years but by whom?

    One such case was a book, Frank Hardy's, 'Power Without Glory' around 1949. It was a book in 4 volumes and it was created and 'bound' by a team of volunteer printers all of whom were CPA supporters.

    In appearance, it was very rudimentary, hand folded, rough bound and handwritten titles on the outer covers. In fact the binding consisted of side staples, Binders cards and Binders cloth covering. It was a fascinating, multi stepped process that they used forced on them by the cost and availability of printers, materials and equipment. Due to its length, 672 pages and printed on one side, the metal type was, according to one account, smelted down and recast during the somewhat lengthy production run.

    Due to the nature of its content, the process took place at a number of locations and various Melbourne based printers took part in the task.

    What we can derive from this information is that the Boxall Rubaiyat, being professionally finished, was not printed and bound by the CPA. It was created on the instructions of the publisher by one of a number of different and authorised printing organisations used by the Australasian Publishing Company Pty Ltd.

    What evidence is there that it may be a 'false imprint' or a special purpose book? The concealment method used, specifically the writing found around and within the Fez Lady and the Grapes illustrations, suggest that the 'code' was put in place prior to the application of a special, dark-coloured ink with which the codes were covered. I think that the book was made ready with just pale outlines of the illustrations and then the code was written in. It is difficult to imagine how they could have been applied on top of the final layer of ink.

    The research continues on this particular topic.

  2. Milongal, I really take no joy in this but I have to tell you that your attempts to discredit the work I have done on this case including the Danetta code and micro writing as well as Fedosimov have all failed and your latest effort falls into the category of boring. In the past that hasn't been a trait of yours.

    I stand by my work, micro writing has been proven to exist on the code page, yes that'e the one that you scoffed at when Nick made his grand announcement only to find that the version he promoted as having been tested by him without any trace of micro code was the same version I used to prove the presence of micro code beyond doubt, you'll find it here:

    I actually felt very sorry for you. I don't take any pleasure in seeing people brought down in the way that you have been. You have a good mind and you could contribute to the discussion far more positively but that is of course your decision.

    If you were to spend a little time reading about clandestine communications and the way that field agents used anything and everything to create and conceal messages, it would benefit you greatly. You'll get an insight in the film library that deals with some different methods of concealment and coding, 14 short films in fact. Amazing stuff and highly recommended:

    There will be more posts over the coming weeks. In the meantime I wish you well.