Lee Oswald was in New York City between September 1952 and June 1953 while Emanuel H. Bloch unsuccessfully fought the conviction of the Rosenbergs in the courts. Superficially, it seems plausible that the bitter controversy surrounding the Rosenberg case affected a teenage Lee Oswald. This explanation could explain why Oswald abruptly brought up the subject of the Rosenbergs during his interview and ended the discussion with the remark, "I don't know why." Perhaps Oswald knew "something special" about the Rosenberg case and was not inclined to tell Aline Mosby.
A review of the Rosenberg Case as reported by The New York Times shows they published three Nat Sherman-advertisements on the same page as an article on the Rosenberg case. The first Nat Sherman' advertisement coincided with the report on the arrest of Julius Rosenberg. (4) The second advertisement appeared on the same page as the article on the filing of a petition for a new trial (5) and the Times published the third advertisement the day before the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. (6 - 9)
Of course we could dismiss these coincidences as accidental. However, the explanation that The New York Times published a Nat Sherman' advertisement adjacent to the article "American Awaits Soviet Word" (1) by coincidence fails to explain the deliberate photographic manipulation of this Nat Sherman' advertisement. (2) An examination of the history of errors in Nat Sherman' advertisements could help resolve this problem.
During the ten years preceding November 3, 1959, Nat Sherman published about fifteen erroneous advertisements. His errors included unbalanced quotation marks and unbalanced parentheses. He misspelled words by omitting a letter or transposing two letters. In one advertisement, Nat Sherman transposed two lines of text. I doubt that anyone can prove these errors were intentional.
However, the Nat Sherman' advertisement of May 26, 1953 contained intentional anomalies. (10) The closing quotation marks in "It's A Boy" contained symbols of unequal font size and the opening quotation mark in "It's A Girl," contained three instead of two symbols.
Nat Sherman used a font that had different symbols for open and closed quotation marks. The closed quotation mark symbol resembled two apostrophes, printed side by side and the open quotation mark looked like the close quotation mark turned upside down. These anomalous symbols are not part of our language. He could not find these symbols on a typewriter keyboard or a Daisy wheel. Nat Sherman had to manufacture a three-symbol open quotation mark because the ordinary open quotation mark contained symbols that differed from the apostrophe. He also needed to produce a close quotation mark with unequal symbol size. Nat Sherman deliberately manipulated this advertisement to include an encrypted message.
One story published by The New York Times on May 26, 1953, commands special attention. They reported on page one that the Supreme Court denied the Rosenberg appeal for the third time. (11) This refusal by the Supreme Court effectively sealed the fate of the Rosenbergs. Julius and Ethel were doomed and Nat Sherman used this occasion to introduce his new product. Mr. Sherman was very pleased with his "BLACK CIGARETTES."
The inclusion of an encrypted message in the Nat Sherman' advertisement of November 3, 1959 was not an isolated occurrence. The existence of just one precedent, the encrypted message in the advertisement of May 26, 1953, is proof of an ongoing clandestine activity. Nat Sherman embedded elusive messages in his advertisements that escaped detection for three decades. Probably, we would never have detected Nat Sherman's activities if Lee Harvey Oswald did not become the accused assassin of President Kennedy.
The immediate cause of the encrypted communication of November 3, 1959 was the publication by The New York Times of the November 1, 1959-article, "Ex-Marine Requests Soviet Citizenship." (12) This article described Oswald's attempted defection the previous day at the U.S. embassy, discussed the aborted defection of Nicholas Pertrulli, the completed defection of Robert Webster and, ended with the statement, "The rest of this dispatch was held in censorship."
On November 2, 1959, Nat Sherman produced an advertisement containing a large superscript comma and a superscript period in place of an opening quotation mark. If whim or contingency inspired Nat Sherman, he could have saved many steps by masking out an opening or closing quotation mark. Alternately Nat Sherman could have introduced a spelling error by masking a letter. These changes would not have required a second negative or a second exposure. Nat Sherman did not take these shortcuts because his purpose was to produce an advertisement that would link Lee Harvey Oswald with the events surrounding the advertisement of May 26, 1953.
The encrypted communication of November 3, 1959 betrays the urgency felt by Nat Sherman following the defection of Lee Harvey Oswald. Nat Sherman risked exposure of his ongoing clandestine operation by coupling the article, "American Awaits Soviet Word" with two incorrectly spaced words to his advertisement that contained an encrypted message. He had no illusions about the dangers wrought by the defection of Lee Harvey Oswald. Nat Sherman knew what Oswald might have learned about the Rosenberg case while a student in New York City.
References1. November 3, 1959, page 8, column 7, "American Awaits Soviet Word"
2. November 3, 1959, page 8, column 8, Nat Sherman' advertisement
3. Warren Commission Report, Chapter VII, "Interest in Marxism", paragraph 2
4. July 18, 1950, page 8, "Fourth American Held as Atom Spy"
5. November 8, 1952, page 6, "New Trial Petition Filed for Rosenbergs"
6. June 19, 1953, page 8, "Spies 'Overjoyed’ by News of Delay”
7. June 19, 1953, page 8, "Many Abroad Ask Mercy for Spies"
8 June 19, 1953, page 8, "High Court Rules on Spy Case Today"
9. June 19, 1953, page 8, "5 to Study Impeachment"
10. May 26, 1953, page 8, Nat Sherman' advertisement
11. May 26, 1953, page 1, "Rosenberg Appeal Denied for 3d Time by Supreme Court"
12. November 1, 1959, page 3, "Ex-Marine Requests Soviet Citizenship"
Unless otherwise indicated the above references refer to The New York Times.