Given that there has been so much recent noise / banter online surrounding the origins of the Rubaiyat ciphertext photograph, perhaps it might be a good idea to look at Gerry Feltus’ definitive opinion (that I received recently by email):-
“I am led to believe that the original photograph of the ‘code’ was taken by a police photographer and countless copies were developed and sent to numerous locations, including The Advertiser where I obtained my copy. I did not find a copy of the photograph in police files or a negative thereof of same. Unless I receive evidence to the contrary I believe that the code was written on the top left side of the rear (plain white dust type cover) of a Whitcombe & Tombs pocket edition of the Rubaiyat.”
The SAPOL Historical Society does now have a copy of this photo, but it turns out that this was one of several sent to them not long ago by Gerry Feltus, who also sent them to Kerry Greenwood for her book. She had (very sensibly) contacted the SAPOL H/S, who had then asked Gerry Feltus because they didn’t have any.
As for what means was used to take the photograph, I think we can probably rely on the Adelaide News, Tuesday July 26th 1949 (as per Gerry Feltus’ “The Unknown Man”, p.108), whose journalistic ear seems to have been close to a policehorse’s mouth:-
“Acting on the possibility that the ‘Rubaiyat’ in their possession did belong to the lieutenant [Alfred Boxall], police set out to decipher a number of block letters pencilled on the back of the book.
Although the lettering was faint, police managed to read it by using ultra-violet light.
In the belief that the lettering might be a code, a copy has been sent to decoding experts at Army Headquarters, Melbourne.”
Finally, we might also in future have to be a little more careful about timing. The Adelaide Advertiser, Monday July 25th 1949 also notes that the man who found the Rubaiyat in his car in Jetty Road, Glenelg, also claimed that he had found it about the time of the RAAF air pageant in November 1948 – in fact, this was held at Parafield on 20th November 1948, a date I don’t recall having previously seen in anybody’s Somerton Man timeline…