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This could be a bit of a breakthrough

Some days everything falls into place, like why the Freeman Rubaiyat wasn’t made available for a front page pic in the Adelaide Advertiser after it was found. Maybe there was an inscription that could have helped too, they were common enough in the old versions. And why not a pic or two of the pages?

Then again, somebody at Naval Intelligence may have been working on the pages, applying all sorts of chemical compounds onto the paper in the hope of raising anything hidden between the lines. It’s not as if it hasn’t been tried before.

Like Piny the Elder, who holds the record for being first up as he discovered that milk of the tithymalus plant (goats lettuce) written on a body, then dried, would produce letters when ashes were sprinkled upon it. Philo of Byzantium c. 280-220 B.C. in Alexandria advised the use of crushed gallnuts dissolved in water to write upon a body, and then the use of a sponge soaked in virrol (ferrous sulfate) rubbed gently over the writing to reveal the letters.

Not only that … During the Revolutionary War invisible transmissions were written between the lines of letters and coded with an “F” for fire or an “A” for acid to clue the recipient in on what method to use to unveil the hidden ink.

So what might the first letters in the code represent?

Foolish thought.

But then there’s this ..

In 2011 the CIA released six World War 1-era documents dealing mostly with invisible ink. One formula containing starch has a recommendation of hiding the ink by ironing it in to a handkerchief, or the starch of a shirt collar, then soaking the article in water to release the ink for writing. These de-classified CIA documents can be viewed in their Electronic Reading Room by searching “secret writing”.

Then, unbelievably, this:

Another interesting story of clothing impregnated ink involves George Vaux Bacon, a Minnesota born spy working for the Germans in America. Bacon traveled to Rotterdam as an American journalist and began to send transmissions by writing between the lines of his reports using invisible ink he had smuggled, painted in the tops of his socks, then soaked in water to reveal the ink for writing.

Maybe that’s why we’ve never seen the book …

And why his spare socks disappeared.


You know it makes sense.

This is George, and he might just have saved our bacon.


8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    I wonder if the socks, the SM was wearing, were ever tested?

    April 18, 2021
    • By who?

      April 18, 2021
      • Gordon, we’re talking about BLOODY SOCKS!!!! We’re talking about immersing compounds in a fluid, then immersing a pair of socks into same, withdrawing them to dry and when the sock owner requires some invisible ink he places said socks in yet another solution that is able to be used to write in such a manner as to be rendered invisible. Unlike you, we are going forward with the proposition rather than cut and paste part of a file.
        Our reasonable assumption being that Naval Intelligence, Nave’s mob, may have determined the same and in the doing maintained possession of both the Rubaiyat and impregnated socks.
        So, hooray back at you, old son …

        Here, in all it’s bumptious glory.

        April 18, 2021
  2. Clive #

    Apparently, the German spymasters used the contents of a ‘toothpaste like tube” to smear the socks-could be why the SM’s ‘toothpaste” was in the suitcase?

    April 18, 2021
    • Toothpaste smells like toothpaste … Next

      April 19, 2021
    • Clive, apologies for the tart response. It would be entirely feasible to substitute a compound other than toothpaste in a tube then top it up with the real thing, the trouble of course would be getting to it and if the tube had the non-capped end used to insert the compound it might have resulted in some peculiar irregularities in the appearance of said non-capped back end.

      April 23, 2021
  3. Clive #

    No need for apologies, I see what you’re getting at about the toothpaste. I suppose the ‘toothpaste’ in the suitcase was never given a second look.

    April 23, 2021
    • Maybe not. I can imagine Prof Cleland, the man famous for sniffing along the intestines of another mysteriously dead individual for the odour of cyanide poisoning, delicately squeezing a toothpaste tube of its contents after discerning an irregular sealing of the tube’s back end.

      April 23, 2021

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