The baccarat connection
Dome had it first :
Lifted from Cipher M .. Trove article 26 Jan ’49.
“Melbourne.- Two prominent Melbourne baccarat players who desire to remain anonymous, believe they knew the unknown man in the “Somerton beach body mystery.”
They saw the man’s picture in a Melbourne newspaper and said they thought they recognised him as a “nitkeeper” who worked at a Lonsdale street baccarat school about four years ago. They could not recall his name.
They said the man talked to few people. He was employed at the baccarat school for about 10 weeks, then left without saying why or where he was going.”
You could argue in this instance that ‘prominent’ means successful .. Kerry Packer became a prominent player after doing his numbers and realising baccarat didn’t pay the bank as much as other forms of gambling, leaving more for the punter.
The story goes that when Packer was playing baccarat in Las Vegas with a Texan who was bragging about the size of his spread and the thousands of his cattle he owned, Packer stopped the dealer, looked the Texan in the eye like the poisonous old lizard he was and asked him what were their names.
Getting back to it – if our man Keane was involved in gambling four years before being found dead on Somerton beach, what’s to say the code found imprinted on the back of the Rubaiyat wasn’t a record of some wagering game he played.
I’ve seen men notating their wins and losses at roulette in Queensland casinos as an example, scribbling their coded hieroglyphics on sheets of foolscap paper. So there’s a precedent.
Then Russian Boris joined the party with this comment:
“In terms of “notation” it might be important to look at not just the letters and symbols, but also their arrangement.
Assuming that they were pencilled on a sheet lying on top of the Ruby, we also should assume that that sheet may have had other content on it, e.g. printed words, graphics, etc.
Is the code “filling in” a form or grid? “Marking up” a document? Does it (the format) fit any known “games” if the day , e.g. in newspapers ?
Another question is: why lay the original sheet on top of the Ruby? Because there was no other flat surface available? The lettering looks rough, rushed. Was it done in the field? On a train? On a bus?
There does appear to be a pattern of sorts with the letter M prefixing most lines .. and all the lines consisting of roughly the same number of capitals. Not to mention the X that separates them and what looks to be a triumphant St Gab flourish at the end.
There you have it.