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The Code, the Cipher Foundation and Marcel Varallo

Lifted in bulk … 

‘The Cipher Foundation is a unregistered charitable foundation, formed in August 2015 by historical codebreaker Nick Pelling.

Its charitable purpose is to improve awareness of historical codes and ciphers (particularly those that have not yet been decrypted), by designing, promoting, and commissioning microprojects that focus on specific historical codes and ciphers.

A “microproject” is a small, evidence-based research task to reduce the haze of uncertainty that typically surrounds historical cryptograms, making them more understandable and (hopefully) easier for codebreakers to crack. Hence The Cipher Foundation seeks to help ‘resolve’ ciphers, rather than directly ‘solve’ them.’

The Cipher Foundation

…. ‘at least one good photographic copy of it (the code) still exists, which can be found in the “archives of the librarian at the Adelaide Advertiser” (according to Marcel Varallo).’

Rubaiyat Code Scan #3 – 2407×1900

‘The third scan (2407×1900, 2.47MB) was also passed to Marcel Varallo, and also has quite a lot of clipping at its top end. Note also that its large file size would seem to imply that this was saved at a higher JPEG quality setting than the others, that likely makes it a more reliable source image to work from than the other two:’


The code doesn’t appear to have been dictated. Neither does it appear to indicate a bus or train route. And if every capital letter represents a word, then it appears the writer made two mistakes on line two. The letters O and I. 

So he crossed out the entire line and replaced it with the right one.

inserted a break,

.. then put line 2 where it belonged after changing the (wrong) letters O and I to to the (right) letters B and O, then – after a visible pause, completed the line by adding AIAQC.

He must have checked.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Could you see an Australian nurse reading an English language Rubaiyat to a Russian speaking patient in a ward at the RNS hospital? Then giving it to him.
    Which one of them made notes on the back cover, if that’s what the code really is?

    And I only found one Q in the online FitzGerald edition (XLV). How’s the irony? There’s only one in the code.

    May 4, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      The Q. What word is it?

      May 5, 2020
      • The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XLV
        Quatrain XLV is one of those rare quatrains that disappear after the first edition. So far, I think only one other quatrain was dropped completely and never returned.
        First Edition: Quatrain XLV

        “But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
        The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
        And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
        Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.”

        The first two lines of this quatrain echoes two earlier quatrains, IX and XXVI, in which the poet/narrator invites the reader to leave all this behind:

        May 5, 2020

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