This is an 1896 engraving of an ape. (I could not find out the name of the artist.) Does it look familiar to you? What do you think-could this image have been Manson’s reference for the ape in Room 38?
I mean, an ape profile is an ape profile is an ape profile, but it seems like a decent bet. That oddly 2-shaped nose on the SEE! poster is even more 2-shaped in the original engraving. (This is actually the reason I started looking at ape profiles-I wanted to know if that 2 could possibly mean something or if apes in profile just had 2-shaped noses.) To me, the pattern of light and shadow on the faces look similar, as do the proportions of the features. In addition, it seems to be a relatively well-known image, as far as engravings of ape profiles go.
If the 19th-century engraving was Manson’s reference, then that is kind of wonderful, because it shows just how much thought might have gone into this little poster. One of the tricky bits about the “see ape nose” riddle (as discussed in the Room 38 Mazecast) is getting that the picture shows an ape and not, say, a chimp or a gorilla. After having done a little research on the engraving, we discovered that it depicts a Koolakamba-a species of ape reported in the 19th century which was thought by some to have been a hybrid between a chimp and a gorilla. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence that these apes were anything other than unusual chimps or perhaps bonobos, but still-as Vincent pointed out-if Manson was aware of this little cryptozoological tale, could he have picked a better way to depict a generic ape?