By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Detection of Forgery - A Practical Handbook for the Use of Bankers, Solicitors, - Magistrates' Clerks, and All Handling Suspected Documents
Author: Caddell, W. Waithman, Blackburn, Douglas, 1857-1929
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Detection of Forgery - A Practical Handbook for the Use of Bankers, Solicitors, - Magistrates' Clerks, and All Handling Suspected Documents" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

                     DETECTION OF FORGERY.

                     A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK
                        FOR THE USE OF

                       DOUGLAS BLACKBURN
 (_Late Expert to the Natal Criminal Investigation Department,
                 and the Transvaal Republic_)

                   CAPTAIN WAITHMAN CADDELL.

                    CHARLES & EDWIN LAYTON,
                    FARRINGDON STREET, E.C.

ERRATUM. (_Page 15._)

Owing to the averages given in the table on page 15 being printed from
some incomplete manuscript they are incorrect. It is obvious that the
proper averages are--

 | 7-1/4 | 6-1/2 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/2 || 16-1/4 | 21 | 20-3/4 | 20-3/4

Transcriber's Note:

    The corrections in the above erratum have been applied. The
    handwritten pages entitled 'Terminology' and 'Alphabet Variants'
    have been moved to the beginning of their relevant chapters.
    Hyphenation and punctuation have been standardised.


 CHAPTER                                           PAGE

         INTRODUCTION                                 5



   III.--TERMINOLOGY                                 17

    IV.--CLASSES OF HANDWRITING                      19

     V.--HOW TO EXAMINE A WRITING                    21

    VI.--THE ALPHABET IN DETAIL                      24

   VII.--THE CAPITALS                                29

  VIII.--PUNCTUATION                                 31

    IX.--PAPER AND WATERMARKS                        34

     X.--INKS                                        38

    XI.--ERASURES                                    42

   XII.--PENCILS AND STYLOGRAPHS                     45


   XIV.--FORGED LITERARY AUTOGRAPHS                  52

    XV.--FORGED SIGNATURES                           60

   XVI.--THE EXPERT IN THE WITNESS-BOX               68




The object of this little work is to assist those who may occasionally
be called upon to form an opinion as to the genuineness of signatures,
alterations in cheques, and the varied doubtful documents that demand
the serious consideration of business men by way of a preliminary to
"taking further steps."

It is the first attempt published in England to explain the principles
upon which the comparison and examination of handwriting are conducted
by experts. It is, and can only be, an outline of suggestions how to
begin, for no two experts follow precisely the same methods, any more
than two painters work on the same lines. Both agree in recognising
certain rules and general principles, but each strives for his objective
point by the employment of those means which experience, temperament,
taste and opportunity suggest. The study of the elementary rules of
their art puts them upon the road for perfecting it, after which success
can only be attained by rightly reading the signs that lead to the
ultimate goal.

In reading these chapters the student should begin by practising that
self-help which is essential to success. _He must read with pen and
notebook._ It is with the object of compelling this valuable habit that
no illustrative examples are given in the text. It would have been easy
to fill many pages with script illustrations, but experience shows that
a much greater impression is made upon the memory by the hand forming
the outlines described than if they were provided in pictorial form. In
other words, the student should supply this purposeful omission by
himself constructing the illustrations from the description. The
trifling extra time and trouble thus demanded will be amply repaid by
the ease and rapidity with which the various points will be fixed in the
memory. Nor is this the only advantage to be gained. The act of
reproducing the illustration cited will emphasise and render clear
technical and mechanical features that would require many words to
explain, with the attendant risk of confusing the mind by mere verbiage.

The material and opportunity for practising and studying the comparison
of handwritings are abundant. Every letter written or read affords a
subject, and in a surprisingly short space of time the student will find
himself instinctively noting and analysing peculiarities in handwriting
that probably never arrested his attention before. The principles of the
art are exceedingly simple and free from complexity, and many a person
who takes up the study will find that he possesses powers of analysis
and observation unguessed before. The most successful expert is he who
observes most closely and accurately, and the faculty needs only the
spur of an objective point for it to be developed.

After a little practice, experience will suggest many methods of
examination and test not dealt with here. For example, photographic
enlargements can be and are utilised with great advantage by bringing
out minute details, especially in signatures, erasures and alterations.
Interesting experiments can be made with a view to discovering the
effect of different kinds of ink--important in settling the question
whether the whole of a particular writing was done with one fluid, and
at the same time, or at intervals.

The study of erasures and alterations of figures or characters also
comes within the scope of developments of the art which it is not deemed
necessary to deal with at length in these pages, for after experience
will suggest their use and the best methods of procedure. For the
beginner the instructions given in the chapters that follow will be
found amply sufficient to direct him how to take up a fascinating and
practical accomplishment, and this, with no further aid than his own
judgment, perseverance and powers of observation and deduction.



The principle on which experts claim to be able to detect variations and
to differentiate between handwritings is based on the well-established
axiom that there is no such thing as a perfect pair in nature; that,
however close the apparent similarity between two things, a careful
examination and comparison will reveal marked differences to those
trained to detect them.

This is especially true of everything that is produced by human agency.
Everyone knows how difficult it is to keep check upon and eradicate
certain physical habits, such as gestures, style of walking, moving the
hands, arms, &c., tricks of speech, or tone of voice. These mannerisms,
being mechanical and automatic, or the result of long habit, are
performed unconsciously, and there is probably no person who is entirely
free from some marked peculiarity of manner, which he is ignorant of
possessing. It is a well-known fact that the subject of caricature or
mimicry rarely admits the accuracy or justness of the imitation,
although the peculiarities so emphasised are plainly apparent to others.
Even actors, who are supposed to make a careful study of their every
tone and gesture, are constantly criticised for faults or mannerisms
plain to the observer, but undetected by themselves.

It is easy, therefore, to understand how a trick or a gesture may become
a fixed and unconscious habit through long custom, especially when, as
in the case of a peculiarity of style in handwriting, there has been
neither criticism on it, nor special reason for abandoning it.

Every person whose handwriting is developed and permanently formed has
adopted certain more or less distinctive peculiarities in the formation
of letters of which he is generally unaware.

The act of writing is much less a matter of control than may be
supposed. The pen follows the thoughts mechanically, and few ready and
habitual writers could, if suddenly called upon to do so, say what
peculiarities their writing possessed. For example, how many could say
off-hand how they dotted an _i_--whether with a round dot, a tick or a
dash--whether the tick was vertical, horizontal or sloping; what was the
proportional distance of the dot from the top of the _i_. Again, ask a
practised writer how he crosses the letter _t_--whether with a
horizontal, up or down stroke? It is safe to assume that not one in a
thousand could give an accurate answer, for the reason that the dotting
of an _i_ and crossing of a _t_ have become mechanical acts, done
without thought or premeditation, but as the result of a long-formed

It is these unconscious hand-gestures and mechanical tricks of style
that the handwriting expert learns to distinguish and recognise,--the
unconsidered trifles that the writer has probably never devoted a
minute's thought to, and which come upon him as a surprise when they are
pointed out to him. Their detection is rendered the more easy when one
knows what to look for from the fact that they are, unlike gestures and
tricks of voice, permanent. A mannerism may not strike two observers in
the same way, nor is it easy to compare, for it is fleeting, and the
memory has to be relied upon to recall a former gesture in order to
compare it with the last. It is not so with a hand-gesture in writing.
The sign remains side by side with its repetition, for careful and
deliberate comparison; and if the writing be a long one, the expert has
the advantage of being in possession of ample material on which to base
his judgment.

_A Popular Fallacy._--One of the most frequent objections offered by the
casual critic when the subject of expert testimony is discussed is to
the effect that people write different hands with different pens, and he
probably believes this to be true. A very slight acquaintance with the
principles on which the expert works would satisfy this spontaneous
critic of the fallacy of his objection. A person who habitually writes a
fine, small hand, sloping from right to left, may believe that he has
altered the character of his hand by using a thick, soft quill,
reversing the slope to what is called a backhand, and doubling the size
of the letters. All he has done is to put on a different suit of
clothes; the same man is in them. The use of a thick pen does not make
him put a dot over the _i_ where before he made an horizontal dash; it
does not turn a straight, barred _t_ into a curved loop, neither does it
alter the proportionate distance between the letters and lines. It does
not make him form loops where before he habitually made bars, or _vice
versâ_, and if he formerly made a _u_ with an angle like a _v_ he will
not write the _u_ with a rounded hook. Neither will it cause him to drop
his habit of adding a spur to his initial letters or curtail the ends
and tails that he was wont to make long. In short, the points to which
the expert devotes his investigation are those least affected by any
variation in the character of the pen used and the hand-gestures which
have, by constant usage, become as much part of the writer's style as
his walk and the tone of his voice.

It follows, therefore, that the work of the handwriting experts consists
in learning how to detect and recognize those unconscious or mechanical
signs, characteristics or hand-gestures that are a feature in the
handwriting of every person, no matter how closely any two hands may
approximate in general appearance. However similar two hands may seem to
the casual and untrained observer, very distinct and unmistakable
differences become apparent when the student has been taught what to
look for. There is no more certain thing than the fact that there has
not yet been discovered two handwritings by separate persons so closely
allied that a difference cannot be detected by the trained observer.
Every schoolmaster knows that in a class of pupils taught writing from
the same model, and kept strictly to it, no two hands are alike,
although in the early and rudimentary stage, before the hand has
attained freedom and approached a settled character, the differences are
less marked. So soon as the child has been freed from the restraint of
the set copy and the criticism of the teacher, he begins to manifest
distinct characteristics, which become more marked and fixed with
practice and usage.

There is no writing so uniform as the regulation hand used, and wisely
insisted upon, in the Civil Service, and familiar to the general public
in telegrams and official letters. Yet it is safe to say that there is
not a telegraph or post office clerk in England who would not be able to
pick out the writing of any colleague with which he was at all

_Duplicates non-existent._--But the best and most decisive answer to the
objection that writings may be exactly similar lies in the notorious
fact that during half a century experts have failed to discover two
complete writings by different hands, so much alike that a difference
could not be detected. Had such existed, they would long ere this have
been produced for the confuting of the expert in the witness-box;
particularly when we bear in mind that the liberty, and even the life of
a person, have depended upon the identification of handwriting. That
there are many cases of extraordinary similarity between different
handwritings is a fact; if there were not, there would be very little
occasion for the services of the expert, but it is equally a fact that
the fancied resemblance becomes less apparent as soon as the writing is
examined by a capable and painstaking expert. It should not be forgotten
that it is not every person who undertakes the comparison of
handwritings who is qualified for the task, any more than every doctor
who diagnoses a case can be depended upon to arrive at an accurate
conclusion. But if the tried and accepted principles of the art be acted
upon, there should be no possibility of error, always assuming that the
person undertaking the examination has a sufficiency of material for
comparison. An expert who valued his reputation would, for example, be
very cautious about giving an emphatic opinion if the only material at
his disposal were two or three words or letters. It is quite possible
that a clever mimic might reproduce the voice of another person so
accurately as to deceive those who knew the subject of the imitation;
but let him carry on a conversation in the assumed voice for a few
minutes, and detection is certain. In like manner, while a few
characters and tricks of style in writing may be fairly well imitated,
it is impossible to carry the deception over a number of words. Sooner
or later the forger lapses into some trick of his own, and it is here
the trained observer catches him. The expert, like the caricaturist,
lays himself out to note the peculiarities of his subject, knowing that
these are practically beyond the control of the writer, and that the
probabilities are that he is not even aware of them. Peculiarities in
handwriting, like unchecked habits in children, become, in time,
crystallised into a mannerism so fixed as to be part of the nature, and
consequently are difficult of eradication. As a matter of fact a
peculiarity in handwriting is more often cultivated than controlled,
many writers regarding a departure from orthodox copybook form as an
evidence of an "educated hand."

_The Law of Probabilities._--In examining a writing for comparison with
another the expert notes all peculiarities, which he labels, for
distinctive reference, "tricks." When he has recorded as many as
possible he looks for them in the writing which he has to compare.
Suppose that he has taken note of a dozen tricks, and finds them all
repeated in the suspected writing. The law of probabilities points to a
common authorship for both writings, for it is asking too much to expect
one to believe that there should exist two different persons, probably
strangers, who possess precisely the same peculiarities in penmanship.

This principle of the law of probabilities is applied in the case of the
identification of persons "wanted" by the police. For example, the
official description of an absconding forger runs as follows:--"He has a
habit of rubbing his right thumb against the middle finger as if turning
a ring. He frequently strokes his right eyebrow with right forefinger
when engaged in writing; when perplexed, he bites his lower lip and
clenches and unclenches his fingers."

Now there are, probably, thousands of people who do every one of these
things singly, but the chances are millions to one against there being
two people who do them all as described in the official placard. In like
manner there may be a multitude of writers who form an _f_ or _k_ with a
peculiar exaggerated buckle. Thousands more may make certain letters in
the same way, but to assume that there are two persons who possess
equally the whole twelve characteristics noted by the expert is to
strain coincidence to the breaking-point of absurdity.

Therefore, it follows that it is the weight of cumulative evidence of
similarity in the production of unusual tricks of style that proclaims a
common authorship for two apparently different writings.

It may be, and often is, the case that the peculiarities or tricks in
the original have been imitated in the suspected writing. As the result
of his experience in knowing what to look for in a copied document, the
expert is not deceived. However good the copy, there are always apparent
to the trained eye evidences that prove another and stranger hand, plain
as the difference between the firm, clear line of the drawing master and
the broken saw-edged effort of the pupil. Habitual observation trains
the eye to an extent that would scarcely be credited unless proved by
experiment. The art of observation cannot be taught; it must be the
outcome of practice. The most the teacher can do is to indicate the
lines on which the study should be carried out, and offer hints and
suggestions as to what to look for. The rest is in the hands of the



The appliances necessary for the work of examination are, a good
magnifying or reading glass of the greatest power obtainable, a pair of
fine compasses or dividers, a horn or celluloid protractor for measuring
angles of slope, and a clearly marked scale rule. Suitable articles will
generally be found in an ordinary case of mathematical instruments.

A simpler and equally accurate method of taking measurements of
handwriting is by the aid of the transparent paper known as foreign
letter paper. It is usually of quarto size, very thin and transparent,
and is ruled horizontally and vertically, dividing the sheet into tiny
squares. It is laid over the writing to be examined, and the various
measurement marks are made with a finely pointed lead pencil. The lines
and squares are used for measurement as the parallels of latitude and
longitude are used on a chart. For example, a letter is said to be so
many lines high, so many lines wide. One of the tiny squares should be
carefully divided into two, or, if possible, four parts, so as to ensure
finer and more accurate measurement. A letter may then be measured in
parts of a line, being described, for example, as, height 6-3/4 lines,
breadth 2-1/2 lines. It is of course important that the same gauge of
ruled paper be used uniformly, otherwise the measurements will vary. If
the student has had practice in the use of the dividers and scale rule,
he may prefer to employ these, but the ruled paper and a finely pointed
lead pencil will be found sufficient for most purposes. A paper
specially prepared for surveyors, ruled in squares of one-eighth of an
inch may be obtained. For measuring the slopes of letters a transparent
protractor is necessary. The letters measured are all topped and tailed
small letters, and all capitals having a shank. Letters like _O_, _C_,
_Q_, _S_, and _X_ can only be measured approximately.

The method of applying the measurements of heights and angles of slope
is shown in the case illustrated by the table on page 15.

The subject of enquiry was a signature containing the letters _B_, _l_,
_k_, _b_.

The measurements of these letters in the forgery are given at the top of
the table, and show the height in lines and angle of slope in degrees.

The measurements of the corresponding letters in twelve genuine
signatures are shown in the table as Examples 1 to 12.

The total is averaged by dividing by twelve.

The presumption in favour of the suspected signature being a forgery is
strongly supported by the arithmetical result.

A difference of more than 2 per cent. in angle of slope, and 3 per cent.
in height may be safely relied upon as ground for suspicion, for it is
rarely that a man's signature varies so greatly within a brief period.
In the absence of the explanation provided by illness, intentional
change in style or other abnormal circumstances, such a difference as is
shown in this example will justify a belief that the suspected signature
is by another hand.

          |       Height in lines.        ||        Angle of slope.
          | _B._  | _l._  | _k._  | _b._  || _B._  | _l._  | _k._  | _b._
 Forgery  | 7     | 7     | 6     | 7-1/4 || 15    | 20    | 21    | 21
 Example 1| 7-1/4 | 6-1/2 | 5-1/2 | 7-1/2 || 16    | 22    | 21    | 20
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    2| 7-1/4 | 6-1/4 | 6     | 7-1/4 || 17    | 21    | 20    | 20
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    3| 7-1/4 | 6     | 5-3/4 | 7-3/4 || 16    | 21    | 20    | 21
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    4| 7     | 6-1/4 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/2 || 16    | 21    | 20    | 21
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    5| 7     | 6-3/4 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/2 || 17    | 22    | 21    | 20
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    6| 7-1/2 | 6-3/4 | 5     | 7-1/2 || 16    | 21    | 20    | 21
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    7| 7-1/2 | 6     | 6     | 7-1/4 || 17    | 20    | 21    | 21
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    8| 7-1/2 | 6-1/2 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/2 || 16    | 22    | 21    | 21
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "    9| 7-1/4 | 6-1/2 | 5-1/2 | 7     || 16    | 21    | 21    | 21
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "   10| 6-3/4 | 6-1/2 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/4 || 16    | 20    | 21    | 21
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "   11| 7-1/4 | 6-3/4 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/2 || 16    | 21    | 21    | 22
          |       |       |       |       ||       |       |       |
    "   12| 7     | 6-1/4 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/2 || 16    | 20    | 21    | 21
 Average  | 7-1/4 | 6-1/2 | 5-3/4 | 7-1/2 || 16-1/4| 21    | 20-3/4| 20-3/4



[Illustration: TERMINOLOGY.]

In order to render the description of a writing perfectly clear, a
system of terminology is adopted which is invariable. That is, the same
terms are always employed in indicating the same parts of a letter.
These are simple, and for the most part self-explanatory, so that no
effort is required to commit them to memory.

Every part of a letter has a distinctive name, so that it would be
possible to reproduce a script character very closely by a verbal

The following are the terms used in describing a letter:--

_Letter_ means the whole of any script character, capital or small. For
the sake of brevity in notes and reports capital is written Cp.; small,

_Arc._--An arc is the curve formed _inside_ the top loop or curve, as in
_f_, _m_, _h_, _o_. In _o_, the inside top half of the letter is the
arc; the inside bottom half is the hook.

_Buckle._--The buckle is the separate stroke added to such letters as
_k_, _f_, and capitals _A_, _F_, _H_.

_Beard._--The beard is the preliminary stroke that often appears in
capital letters.

_Body._--The body of a letter is that portion of it which rests on the
line and could be contained in a small circle. For example, in a small
_d_ the body consists of the circle and the final upward curve or toe.
In a small _g_ the body is the circle minus the tail.

_Eye_ is the small circle formed by the continuation of a stroke as in
the shoulder _r_.

_Finals._--A final is the finishing stroke not carried beyond the shank
in capitals, and in a few smalls like _y_, _g_, _z_.

_Foot._--The foot of a letter is that portion of it that rests on the
line. Small _m_ has three feet, _h_ has two, etc.

_Hook._--The hook is the inside of a bottom curve. It is the opposite of
the arc.

_Link._--The link is that portion of the stroke which connects two

_Broken link._--A broken link is a disconnection in the link joining two

_Loop._--A loop is that portion of a letter which forms the top or tail.
Unlooped tops and tails are called "barred." For example, small _f_ has
two loops, top and bottom; _f_, _h_, _l_ have one top loop; _g_, _y_,
_z_ have one bottom loop.

_Shank._--The shank of a letter is the principal long downstroke that
forms the backbone.

_Shoulder._--The shoulder is the outside of the top of the curve as seen
in small _m_, _n_, _o_, _h_. Small _m_ has three shoulders, _n_ two, _h_

_Spur._--The spur is to the small letter what the beard is to the
capital. It is the initial stroke.

_Tick._--A tick is a small stroke generally at the beginning of a
letter, sometimes at the end.

_Toe._--The toe is the concluding upward stroke of a letter, as seen in
small _e_, _n_, _h_, &c.

_Whirl._--The whirl is the upstroke in all looped letters. It is a
continuation of the spur in _b_, _h_, _f_, _l_, and is always an



For convenience in differentiation, handwritings are divided into the
following classes. Practically every type of writing can be placed in
one of them.

_Vertical Hand._--A vertical hand is one in which the tops and tails of
letters form as nearly as possible a perpendicular with the horizontal
line. The best example of this class of handwriting is that known as the
Civil Service hand, familiar to the general public through telegrams and
official documents.

_Back Hand_ is a hand in which the general slope of the characters is
from right to left.

_Italian Hand_ is the reverse of a back hand, the slope being at an
acute angle from left to right. It is a style fast going out of fashion,
and is almost invariably the handwriting used by elderly ladies. Its
most pronounced characteristic is its sharp angles and absence of

_Open Hand._--An open hand is one that generally approximates to the
vertical, its distinguishing feature being the wide space between the
letters. The best example of it is that known as the Cusack style of

_Closed Hand._--A closed hand is the opposite of an open hand, the
letters being crowded together and generally long and narrow, with the
slope from left to right.

_Greek Hand._--This is the name given to a type of writing that closely
approximates to the printed character. Many letters, both capital and
small, are formed to imitate print, particularly the capitals _T_, _X_,
_Y_, _R_, _B_, _D_, and the smalls _e_, _f_, _g_, _h_, _j_, _k_, _p_,
_r_, _t_, _v_, _w_, _x_, _y_, _z_. It is a hand frequently found in the
writings of classical scholars, literary men engaged in work entailing
careful research, and often is an evidence of short sight.

The _Wavy Hand_ is generally vertical. Its characteristic is an
undulating serpentine waviness. Little or no distinction is made between
barred or looped letters. There are no rounded shoulders to the _m_ and
_n_ and the word minnie would be written by five small _u_'s. In
round-bodied letters like _a_, _d_, _g_, the circle is rarely completed,
but is left open, so that small _a_ becomes _u_, and small _d_ may be
mistaken for _it_, with the _i_ undotted and _t_ uncrossed. Despite its
geometrical and caligraphic inaccuracy in detail, this hand is generally
written with great regularity, that is, the characters, though
incomplete, are always uniform in their irregularity. The _e_ is never
open, but is an undotted _i_, and _n_ is _u_, but when the peculiarities
of the writer become familiar this hand is often very legible.

_Flat Hand._--A flat hand is a type of handwriting in which the
characters have an oblate or flattened appearance, the _o_, _a_, _g_,
&c., being horizontal ovals, like the minim and breve in music. The
tails and tops are generally short, with wide loops. It is nearly always
a vertical hand.

An _Eccentric Hand_ is one that presents various marked peculiarities
and departures from standard rules in the formation of certain letters,
and cannot be placed in any recognised class, though it may approximate
to one more than to another.

The _Round_ or _Clerical Hand_ is a writing that preserves a close
affinity for the round regular hand of the average school-boy, with the
difference that while the characters are formed on regular copybook
model, the hand is written with considerable fluency and firmness. It is
generally only a little out of the perpendicular, sloping slightly
towards the right.



The examination of a writing generally consists in making a careful
comparison between it and another or others, the object being to
determine whether all are by the same hand.

The writing which is in a known hand or as to the authorship of which
there is no doubt, is usually called the Original, and is always
referred to by this name. The writing which has to be compared with it,
and which practically forms the subject of the enquiry, is called the
Suspect. The Suspects should be marked A, B, C, D, &c., and put away
without examination until the Original has been thoroughly mastered.
This is more important than may appear at first sight, for the confusing
effect of having the two types of writing in the eye and mind before one
type is made familiar is highly prejudicial. Any inclination to look at
the Suspects first should be firmly resisted.

Let us assume that the object of the examination is to discover the
writer of an anonymous letter--one of the most frequent tasks of the
handwriting expert. The material in hand is the anonymous letter, which
in such a case may be called the Original, and half-a-dozen specimens of
the writing of suspected persons. These Suspects are numbered from 1 to
6, or marked A, B, C, &c., and put aside until the Original has been
thoroughly studied.

The first thing is to examine the paper and envelope, noting its
quality, watermark, size, and any feature that may afford a clue. It is
always safe to presume that the paper is in every respect unlike that
commonly used by the writer, just as it is equally safe to take it for
granted that the writing it contains will, so far as its general
appearance goes, be the reverse of the normal hand of the author. That
is, if it be a heavy back hand, the writer probably uses a hand
approximating to the Italian, though too much weight must not be
attached to this theory.

Next, note the general style of the document as a whole, whether the
margin between top, bottom, and sides is large or small. A writer who
habitually begins at the top left-hand corner very near to the edge of
the paper will often betray himself by repeating the habit. It is a very
common sign of an economical disposition. Note whether he crowds his
words and letters near the ends of lines or leaves a good margin. Clerks
and those engaged in official work rarely crowd their final words,
preferring rather to leave a wide space and go on to the next line.

Note whether the hyphen is used to divide words. Many writers never
divide a word, others do it frequently, with or without the hyphen.

Measure the average distance between lines, if unruled paper be used,
and make a note of the average distance.

Measure the distance between words and strike an average, noting if
words are connected without lifting the pen. It may be found that this
joining is only done when certain letters form the final of the first
word joined and the initial of the word connected. Look carefully for

Note particularly the slope of the topped and tailed letters.

Note the punctuation, whether frequent and accurate or otherwise.

Determine the class to which the writing belongs.

Read the document carefully, noting any peculiarities of language,
errors, or Americanisms in spelling, such as "favor" for "favour,"
"color" for "colour," &c.; the substitution of "_z_" for "_s_" in such
words as "advertise," &c. Examine with the glass any words that may have
been crossed out or rewritten, noting particularly letters that have
been mended or touched up.

Note whether the horizontal lines have a tendency to slope up or down.

Note particularly letters with two or more feet, like _a_, _d_, _h_,
_k_, _m_, _n_, &c. It will be found that a certain regularity in
formation exists in most writings. If the _a_ be formed like an _o_,
the toe not touching the line, or an _n_ with the second foot high up
like a bearded _r_, these peculiarities should be carefully noted. Some
writers go to the other extreme, and carry the second foot below the
line, so that _a_ becomes a small _q_. Too much time cannot be devoted
to this aspect of handwriting, as it presents features of which the
writer is probably quite unconscious, and, therefore, affords valuable

Next study the topped and tailed letters, noting whether they are looped
or barred, that is, formed by a single stroke. It will be often found
that certain letters are always looped, others barred. Take careful note
of such. If both barred and looped letters appear to be used
indiscriminately, count and average them. In any case, a characteristic
will be revealed. Examine and classify the loops. Note whether they are
long or short, rounded or angular, wide or narrow. Devote special
attention to the arc, shoulder and hook. Note, also, any difference of
thickness between the up and down stroke; test the degree of clearness
and sharpness of stroke by means of the glass, and carefully look for
the serrated or ragged edge, which will assist in determining the angle
at which the pen is held.



[Illustration: ALPHABET VARIANTS.]

If the instructions so far given have been acted upon, the student will
have familiarised himself with the general character of the writing
under examination. He should now proceed with a detailed examination of
each letter, beginning with the smalls, and taking them in alphabetical

Take a sheet of tracing paper and trace each small _a_, letting them
follow each other on the line, with about a quarter inch of space
between each letter. During the process of tracing, the eye must be on
the alert for peculiarities, notably the roundness or otherwise of the
circle as a whole, the curve or angle of the arc and hook, the relative
position of the toe. Note the shank, whether looped or barred, whether
the top of it is above or below the body of the circle, whether it is
vertical or sloping from right or left. Having compared all the _a_'s,
count them, and decide which form most frequently recurs. This may be
taken as the normal _a_ of the writer.

The following are the principal points to be considered in examining
succeeding letters.

_b._--Note the spur, its length, how far up the shank it meets it;
whether the shank is barred or looped; the character of the loop. Note
particularly the toe, which also forms the link. This is a very
significant hand-gesture. It may be low down, making the _b_ literally
_li_, or it may be a horizontal bar, an angle, or a neat semicircle. Its
formation offers large scope for variation, and should be very carefully
studied. Compare the toe with the corresponding stroke in _f_, _o_, _v_,
_w_. Note whether it is joined with an eye, and observe its average
distance from the bottom on base line.

_c._--This letter, when an initial, is frequently begun with a spur,
often with a dot or tick. When connected with a preceding letter, the
link may make the _c_ into an _e_. It is sometimes disconnected from the
preceding letter. Note whether this is characteristic.

_d._--Apply the same tests as in examining small _a_, noting whether the
shank is barred or looped.

_e._--Examine the spur in initials; closely observe the loop. Look for
any recurrence of the Greek ε. Examine and compare the specimens given
in the examples. Many writers have a habit of forming an _e_ as an _i_
and adding the loop. Look out for this with assistance of the glass.

_f._--This is an important letter, giving scope for numerous varieties
of form. Examine and classify the loops, noting which is the longer--the
top or bottom; whether one or both are barred. The eye and toe are
pregnant with material for observation. Examine the various forms of
this letter given in the examples.

_g._--Like the preceding letter, this one has many varieties of form,
and will repay careful study.

_h._--The characteristic portion of this letter is the hook forming its
body. Note how it is joined to the shank--whether it starts from the
line or high up; whether the shoulder is rounded or angular, whether the
foot touches the line or remains above it; whether the shank is looped
or barred.

_i._--This is an important letter because of the dot, which is made
mechanically. After noting whether the shank is spurred as an initial,
special attention must be devoted to the dot. Dots are of various forms.
They may be a wedge-shaped stroke sloping in any direction, a horizontal
dash, a tiny circle or semicircle, a small _v_, or a perfect dot.
Examine them all through the glass, and compare them with the comma,
which often partakes of the same character as the dot. Note also its
relative position to the shank, whether vertical, to the right or left,
and its average height and distance from the shank. Much may be learned
from a careful examination of the dot, and its every variation and
characteristic should be most carefully noted and classified.

_j_ is important for the same reason that makes the _i_ significant.
There are several forms of it, but the dotting offers the most valuable

_k._--This is the most significant and valuable of the small letters, as
it offers scope for so much originality and irregularity in its
formation. The characteristic features of the small _k_ lie mainly in
the body. Few writers form a _k_ alike. Although it may belong to the
same class, the number of variations that can be rung on the body is
surprisingly large, ranging from the regulation copybook model to the
eccentric patterns shown in the examples. Special attention should be
devoted to the eye and buckle, for it is at this junction of the two
strokes forming the body that most writers exhibit their peculiarities.

_l._--The same principles of examination apply to this letter as to the
small _e_. Note carefully the character of the loop and examine the
position of the spur.

_m_ and _n_ offer ample material for examination. As an initial the
first stroke is sometimes exaggerated, approximating the letter to the
capital _M_ or _N_. Note the formation of the shoulders and their
relative heights and width; also, by means of a line touching the tops
of the shoulders, note carefully and compare the last shoulder with the
first. This letter presents great extremes in formation. The shoulders
may be high and well rounded, or even horizontal, or they may be sharp
angles, turning the _m_ into _in_, and the _n_ into _u_. Note the
distance between the shanks and observe whether it is uniform.

_o._--This letter owes its main importance to its connecting link. Note
whether it is carried low down, making the letter like an _a_, whether
it is joined to the body by an eye, and if the toe is curved or angular.
Note, also, the general conformation of the circular body and compare
the toe with that in _b_, _f_, _v_, and _w_.

_p._--There are several forms of this letter, and a writer who affects
one of them generally repeats it often. The shank may be barred or
looped, wholly or in part, especially when used as an initial. The body
generally offers ample material for examination.

_q_ is also a letter with which great liberties are taken, and is the
subject of several variations. Some writers make no distinction between
_g_ and _q_, and the final stroke often supplies the main characteristic
of this letter.

_r._--This important letter has two forms--the square, or eyed, and the
hooked. Many variants are employed in forming it, as the specimens in
the examples show. Many writers unconsciously form a habit of using both
_r_'s, but with a certain degree of system. For example, one may use the
hook _r_ always as a final, and the eyed _r_ as an initial. The
formation of the eye should be specially studied, with the shoulder,
which may be formed as a semicircle, an arc, a straight bar or an
angular _v_. The hooked _r_ is equally rich in varying forms, and the
letter forms an interesting study.

_s._--This is a letter of such frequent recurrence in the English
language that it not unnaturally has become the subject of a variety of
forms, and this despite the fact that its regulation shape is
exceedingly simple and rudimentary. The majority of writers have one
favourite form of the letter, which, like the _k_, becomes

_t._--This letter is important because of its frequent recurrence, and
on account of the variations of form, the bar or crossing being the most
fruitful in material for observation. There are two usual forms of the
_t_, the hooked and crossed, and the barred, and they are equally
valuable and characteristic. The crossing of a hooked _t_, like the
dotting of an _i_, is so mechanical an act that it often reveals
important evidence. The cross stroke when closely examined will be found
to present many variations. It may be a fine horizontal line, a curve, a
heavy short dash; it may be ticked or dotted at either end or both--in
short, there is scarcely an end to the numerous forms this important
hand-gesture may assume. Then its relative position to the shank tells
much. It may be high up, not touching the shank; low down, neatly struck
at right angles to the shank, or it may be omitted altogether. In some
circumstances a _t_ is crossed, in others left uncrossed; for example,
the _t_ at the beginning of a word may be invariably uncrossed, but the
final _t_ never. These are the peculiarities and characteristics the
student has to keep a watchful eye for. The other form of the _t_ is
known as the bar _t_. It is generally uncrossed, and often the buckle is
an important feature. A careful examination of the examples will suggest
the lines on which the analysis of the letter _t_ should be conducted
and at the same time reveal the richness of material at the disposal of
the student.

_u._--Note whether the two shanks are uniform, whether the letter is
spurred as an initial. Average the distance between the shanks, and
observe the conformation of the hook, whether rounded or _v_-shaped.

_v._--The important feature of this letter is the toe. Its formation
must be carefully noted as in _f_, _o_, hooked _r_ and _w_.

_w._--Apply the same test as to _u_ and _v_. Note the uniformity or
otherwise of the shanks and hooks, and study the varied forms given in
the examples.

_x._--This letter lends itself to tricks and variations, and few letters
depart more from the orthodox copybook form in actual practice, as is
shown in the examples.

_y._--Note the spur and its relative position to the shank. Note the
tail and its average length.

_z._--This letter offers good material for study and the detection of
mannerisms. Its body is the most significant part, as it is capable of
so many variations. It may be angular or well curved; the eye may be
large or exaggerated or merely suggested. Like _k_ and _x_, the form
once adopted by a writer is not usually departed from to any great



Owing to their large size and more complex form the capital letters
offer much more material for tests than the smalls. They yield more
scope for tricks and eccentricity, though, at the same time, their extra
prominence, and the clearness with which their outlines strike the eye
of the writer render it more likely that he will detect glaring
departures from the orthodox model. In other words, a writer would
probably pay more attention to accuracy in forming, and particularly in
copying, a capital than a small letter. This is generally found to be
the case in signature forgeries, the capitals being, as a rule, much
nearer the original than the small letters. But there is this great
advantage in favour of the student in examining capitals--the strokes
being more expansive supply a larger field and material for examination.
For example, a ragged or diamond stroke in a much flourished capital
like _M_, _W_, _R_ or _B_ would be more apparent than the same kind of
stroke in a small letter.

There is no need to take the capital letters seriatim, as was the case
with the smalls, for the same principles and rules for examination apply
in both cases. The same care is necessary in examining the arcs, hooks
and shoulders of loops, with their general conformation. The angle of
slope is more noticeable in capitals, and they reveal the
characteristics of the writer more than small letters. Persons who
profess to delineate character from handwriting always pay great
attention to the capitals, doubtless with good reason, and as the result
of long experience.

An examination will show that about ten capitals can be formed with two
disconnected strokes. They are _A_, _B_, _F_, _H_, _K_, _P_, _Q_, _R_,
_T_ and _X_. These are known as double capitals. These doubles should
be carefully looked for, and the frequency, or otherwise, of their
recurrence noted, as it is probable they will be found to be nearly
always used under the same circumstances; that is, a writer may have a
habit of beginning with a double capital when possible, but revert to
the single form of the same letter in the body of the writing. Another
writer will almost invariably disconnect the capitals from the rest of
the word, while a third as regularly connects them. Some writers affect
the more simple form, approximating to the printed character. Others
again indulge in inordinate flourishes, particularly in their
signatures. Such writers prove easy prey to the forger.

A feature very easy of detection in capitals is the "diamond." It is
formed by a sudden thickening of the downstroke. It is particularly
noticeable in the writing of those who have been instructed in the
old-fashioned school, where a distinction between the heavy downstroke
and the light upstroke was insisted upon. The diamond habit once formed
is very difficult to eradicate, and traces of it always remain in the
writing of persons thus taught.

An important and significant part of a capital letter is the beard. It
is an automatic trick, and always repays careful examination. It may be
a spurred, ticked or dotted beard, but in any case the initial stroke
must be carefully examined, whatever form it may assume, for the
oft-emphasized reason that it belongs so essentially to the
clue-providing class of unguarded and unpremeditated automatic strokes
that are overlooked by the writer.

Variations in the form of a capital must be noted, and a record kept,
for, however great the variety, it will be found that one particular
form is more used than another, and may be regarded as the normal type
of the writer.

A peculiarity of some writers is the use of an enlarged form of the
small letter for a capital. The letters so made to serve a double
purpose are generally _A_, _C_, _E_, _G_, _M_, _N_, _O_, _P_, _Q_, _S_,
_U_, _V_ and _W_. They are referred to as small capitals.



The ampersand (&) is a symbol that provides excellent material for clues
to tricks and mannerisms. It varies in form from a mere _v_-shaped tick
of almost indeterminate character to an ornate thing of loops and
flourishes. It is very sparingly employed by illiterate persons, and
some educated writers avoid its use under the impression that, like the
abbreviation of words, it is vulgar. In a few high-class ladies' schools
its use is sternly repressed, and there are many fluent and habitual
writers who never employ this sign. This in itself supplies a useful
clue to characterisation. Others, again, only employ it in such
combinations as "& Co.," "&c.," though this latter abbreviation is, as
often as not, written "etc." by many persons.

The dash (--) occurs very largely in many writings, and particularly in
those of ladies, who regard it as a universal punctuation mark, and
employ it indiscriminately as comma and full stop. Many persons of both
sexes invariably make a dash below the address on an envelope, using it
as a kind of final flourish. A close examination of the samples provided
in such a writing will reveal many valuable idiosyncrasies. It may be a
bold, firm horizontal line, a curve with a tick at either end, or both;
a wavy line or even an upward or downward line. Note, also, the ragged
edge, as it affords an important clue to the style of holding the pen.
The dash is so essentially an unpremeditated and mechanically-formed
hand-gesture that it often betrays more of the character of the writer
than any other letter. Cases have been known in which the writer of an
anonymous letter has successfully concealed all his characteristics,
but in putting the final stroke in the form of a dash he has so far
forgotten himself as to produce, quite unconsciously, what was probably
one of his most pronounced hand-gestures, thus providing a clue which
led to ultimate conviction.

Punctuation is rarely a marked feature of English handwriting. It is
said that many of our leading literary men practically leave this
important phase of their work to the printer's proof-reader. An
examination of a hundred private letters by different hands will show a
marvellous scarcity of punctuation marks, and few correspondents use or
appear to know the use of any stop other than the comma and full point,
the dash being made to do service for all else. The mark of
interrogation is fairly often used, and its formation gives scope and
material for careful examination. The examples offer suggestions of the
form and direction eccentricity sometimes takes.

The colon and semicolon are very little used by average writers, and
when they are, it is generally inaccurately, but nearly always under the
same circumstances, which should be carefully noted. The quotation marks
(" ") are still more rarely employed, and it will be found on
examination that most people form them wrongly. The accurate style is
this, “ ”, but as often as not the initial quotation has the dot at the
top instead of the bottom.

Another almost universal omission is that of the full point after
initials to a name, after "Esq.," and in the initials of postal
districts, as E.C., W.C. The addressing of an envelope affords
interesting and valuable material for clues, for it will generally be
found that a writer who uses punctuation marks at all will do so with
automatic regularity under the same circumstances.

The shape and general formation of stops and marks must be carefully
examined and classified, for they belong to the significant
unpremeditated class of hand-gestures, and are, therefore, valuable as
clues to peculiarities.

The "Esq." that generally follows a man's name on a letter addressed to
him partakes much of the character of a symbol like the "?" or "!", and,
being automatic through usage, is therefore valuable. Most writers use a
uniform style in shaping it, and the three letters that go to make up
the abbreviation are fortunately of a kind that lend themselves to

Notice, also, the position of the possessive sign in such words as
"men's," "writer's." If accurately placed, the writer may be presumed to
understand punctuation, and will give evidence of it in a long writing.



The brownish tint of old age which paper needs to help out a fraud is
obtained in various ways--sometimes by steeping in a weak solution of
coffee, but in other cases by holding it before a bright hot fire. This
latter device is, fortunately, not easy of accomplishment, considerable
care, judgment and even luck being needed to ensure a satisfactory
result. In our own case we have failed persistently in the attempt, the
paper becoming tinted so unequally as to excite remark at first sight.

All the old pattern of letter paper was almost uniform in size--post
quarto, and the watermark is invariably very distinct, explainable by
the fact that the art of close weaving the wire mould was not then
brought to its present state of perfection.

The watermarks are very fairly imitated by means of a pointed stick
dipped in a solution of spermaceti and linseed oil melted in water and
stirred till cold; or, equal quantities of turpentine and Canada balsam
shaken together. The same result may be obtained by the use of megilp, a
mixture employed by artists.

The detection of this watermark fraud is simple and infallible. If the
suspected document be moistened with lukewarm water the spurious
watermark disappears immediately, but if genuine, it becomes plainer.

The worn and dingy appearance inseparable from age in a letter is
accentuated by rubbing it lightly with a dirty duster. The effect is
usually obvious under a strong glass, the passage of the dirty cloth
revealing itself in minute parallel lines.

Very little care is needed to distinguish between paper that has been
taken from books and the genuine letter paper of the period. To begin
with, such letters are always on single sheets. In genuine cases, the
sheet is as often as not a folio of four pages. In the majority of cases
the bogus sheet is of no recognised size. If taken from a book larger
than post quarto, it has had to be cut to conceal the tear. This
operation has made an irregular sized sheet--too small for post quarto,
too large for the next size. In the genuine writing paper, all four
edges are usually rough like those of a bank note. If the sheet has been
abstracted from a book, one edge must have been cut or trimmed.

Again, such paper is of unequal thickness, the writing paper of the
period being much smoother and finer than the printing paper, while in
parts it is almost certain the ink has run, as it does on a coarse,
absorbent paper. This is a sure sign that the paper is printing and not

Further, such paper is certain to show signs of wear at the bottom edges
where they have been handled and exposed, while that part of the page
which has been closest to the inside edge of the cover is generally
cleaner, and shows less sign of wear. In many cases the impression of
the book binding is plainly visible.

A careful examination and comparison of a few sheets of genuine letter
paper of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the blank leaves
found in printed books will reveal differences so marked that mistake is
scarcely possible afterwards.

It often occurs that grease marks interrupt the forger. Knowing that he
cannot write over them, and that they are hardly likely to have existed
on the paper when it was new, and when the letter was supposed to be
written, he avoids them. The result becomes apparent in unequal spacing
of words and even letters.

On one occasion a really excellent forgery, which had successfully
withstood all the tests we had applied, had its real character revealed
by a curious oversight on the part of the forger.

It was an early seventeenth century document, and our attention was
arrested by a peculiar uniform smudgy appearance, such as results from
blotting with a hard, unabsorbent, much-worn sheet of blotting paper. At
the period of the presumed date of this document blotting paper was
unknown, writings being dried by means of a specially prepared fine
powder called pounce, sand, or a powder containing fine crystals of
metal intended to give an ornamental gloss to the ink. Close examination
under the microscope revealed the truth. There were no signs of pounce
or any other drying powder, the crystals of which are usually plain to
the unassisted eye, but there were distinct signs of the fibre of the
blotting paper left in the ink.

Another forgery we discovered through the presence in the centre of the
sheet of paper of a very faint square outline which enclosed a slight
discolouration. The sheet had, as usual, been removed from a book, and
the square outline was a faint impression of a book-plate which had been
affixed to the opposite page. The discolouration was caused by the ink
on the book-plate.

It should be superfluous to have to remind intelligent and educated
persons that it is necessary for a collector of old documents to make
himself familiar with the peculiarities, habits and customs of the
period in whose literary curiosities he is dealing. Yet fact compels the
admission that extraordinary laxity and even ignorance exist on these
points. We are acquainted with a collector, by no means uneducated, who
gave a good price for a letter purporting to be by Sir Humphrey Davy,
the inventor of the miners' safety lamp, enclosed in an envelope. He was
ignorant of the fact that envelopes were unknown until 1840, thirty
years later than the date of this particular letter. Envelopes supposed
to have been addressed by Dickens have been offered for sale and
purchased, bearing postage stamps not in circulation at the period.

One would imagine that a forger would pay sufficient attention to his
materials to be on his guard against the blunder which earned the
perpetrator of the Whalley Will Forgery penal servitude. He put forward
a will dated 1862, written on paper bearing in a plain watermark the
date 1870! Another indiscreet person asked the Court to accept a will
written and signed with an aniline copying pencil, but dated years
before that instrument had been invented.

Both the works by Dr. Scott and Mr. Davies, given in the list, show
samples of watermarks of the various periods affected by forgers of
literary documents.



Examination for determining whether a writing has been done at one time,
or added to later, necessitates some acquaintance with the nature and
qualities of ink. In the ordinary case the assistance of a chemist is
necessary, but an enlarged photograph shows up minute differences with
amazing accuracy.

In the majority of instances alterations are made some time after the
original has been written, in which case a difference in the shade of
the ink will be perceptible, even to the unassisted eye. This is
particularly true when the now almost universal blue-black ink is used.

The period required for an addition to become as black as the older
writing depends very much upon the character of the paper. If this be
smooth and hard, and the writing has not been dried with blotting paper,
but allowed to dry naturally and slowly, it will become black much
quicker than if the paper be rough and of an absorbent nature.

A fairly reliable test is to touch a thick stroke of the suspected
addition with a drop of diluted muriatic acid--as much as will cling to
the point of a pin. Apply the drop to the suspected addition and to the
older writing at the same moment, and carefully watch the result. The
newer writing will become faint and watery, with a bluish tinge almost
instantly, but the change will be slower in the case of the older
writing, taking ten or even twenty seconds. The longer the period
required for the change, the older the writing.

This same acid test is applied to prove whether a writing is in ordinary
ink, or has been lithographed or photographed. If the two latter, the
acid will have no effect.

On more than one occasion collectors have purchased as original
autographs of celebrities which proved to have been lithographed or
photographed, but the persons so deceived have generally been
inexperienced amateurs.

When the difference between a written and printed signature has been
once noticed it is hardly likely that an observant person will be
deceived. It is, however, as well to be carefully on guard against this
contingency, for modern photography and process printing have been
brought to such a degree of imitative perfection that it is easy for a
not too keen-eyed person to experience great difficulty in forming an
opinion in the absence of the acid test. Fortunately that is infallible.

It must, however, be admitted that up to the present no great success
has attended efforts to determine how long an interval has passed
between the writing of the original and the suspected addition. Broadly
speaking, the most that the expert can hope to gain from an examination
of ink under these circumstances are hints, clues and suggestions rather
than definite, reliable facts. Fortunately it often occurs that a
suggestion so obtained proves of immense value to the trained or careful
observer, though it might convey no conviction to others.

As in the case of nearly all deductive reasoning the handwriting expert
becomes sensitive to slight suggestions. If called upon, as he sometimes
is, to explain to others how and why one of these slight and almost
imperceptible signs fit in with his theory, he fails. Therefore the
cautious expert, like a good judge, is careful in giving reasons for his
judgment only to cite those which are self-evident.

Many an expert has made a poor exhibition in the witness-box by failing
to convey to a jury the impression produced on his own mind by a slight
piece of evidence, the proper understanding and interpretation of which
can only be grasped by those who have learned how to recognize faint

The process of chemically testing inks for the purpose of ascertaining
the points mentioned is quite simple, and is distinctly interesting. In
a very important case the services of a qualified chemist will probably
be requisitioned, but the cost of the necessary material and the time
required to make oneself proficient as a capable tester are so slight
that even the small fee that would be charged by a chemist is scarcely
worth paying.

The materials necessary are a few test tubes, some bottles of lime
water, diluted muriatic acid, a solution of nitrate of silver in
distilled water, in the proportion of ten grains to the ounce, some
camel hair pencils, and clean white blotting and litmus paper. The whole
need not cost more than half-a-crown.

The method of using these materials is best illustrated by describing a
test often needed by autograph collectors.

A very common method employed by forgers to give an appearance of age to
the ink used in spurious old documents is to mix with ordinary ink,
muriatic acid, oxalic acid, or binoxalate of potash. The presence of
these colouring agents can be detected in the following manner.

In the first place, washing the letter with cold water will make the ink
become darker if acid has been used to brown the ink, but the following
test will settle the point beyond dispute:

With a camel's-hair brush wash the letter over with warm water. If, as
sometimes happens, a sort of paint or coloured indian ink has been used,
this will be immediately washed away and disappear, leaving a rusty
smudge. If not, apply the litmus paper to the wetted ink, and the
presence of acid will be shown in the usual way by the litmus paper
changing colour. If genuine, wetting makes no difference.

Next, pour a drop or two of the water from the writing into a test tube
from off the letter, add a little distilled water and one or two drops
of the nitrate of silver solution.

If muriatic acid has been used to colour the ink, a thick white
precipitate will be seen in the tube immediately.

If not, pour a few more drops of the water which has been washed over
the writing into a second test tube, add a little distilled water and a
few drops of lime water. A white precipitate will be seen in the tube if
either oxalic acid or binoxalate of potash has been employed.

In many cases it will be sufficient to place the tip of the tongue to a
thick stroke. An unmistakable acid taste will be noticed.

Further and fuller particulars of the methods resorted to by forgers to
simulate ancient documents will be given in the chapter on Autographs.

It is sometimes important to know whether a stroke has been made over
another, as in the famous case in which the real issue turned on the
question whether an apparent alteration in a signature was really a
pen-mark made to indicate where the signatory should sign. It was
obvious that if the mark was made first the signature would be over it;
if, as was suggested, the mark was added in an attempt to alter or touch
up the signature, it must have been written over the signature.

In cases of this kind an enlarged photograph leaves no room for doubt.
The ink is seen lying over the lower stroke as plainly as a layer of
paint in a picture can be seen overlying the stroke beneath.

This is one of those apparently difficult points which become
marvellously simple when dealt with in a practical manner.

Pages might be needed to explain what a very simple experiment will
reveal at a glance.

Take a word which has been written long enough for the ink to have
become dry, and make a stroke across it. For example, make a letter _t_
without the bar, then, after a lapse of an hour or two, add the cross
bar. When this is quite dry and has become as dark as the first mark,
examine it with a good glass. The ink of the added bar will be seen
plainly overlaying the vertical stroke, but any doubt can be promptly
removed by taking an enlarged photograph.

Even when the second stroke is added while the ink on the first is still
wet the upper stroke can be distinguished, though not so clearly as if
the first stroke had been allowed to dry first.

By practising and examining such strokes, the student will soon learn to
distinguish important signs which leave no doubt as to which stroke was
first made.



The alteration of the figures and amount written on a cheque is
generally effected by erasure. At one time chemicals were used for this
purpose, but fortunately the modern cheque is forgery-proof in this
respect. No means are known to chemists by which ordinary writing can be
removed from a cheque without leaving a sign too pronounced to escape

But even erasure on a cheque is extremely difficult, and the experienced
eye of the average bank teller can detect it in the vast majority of
cases. Frauds perpetrated by this means are very rare, and are usually
the result of gross carelessness on the part of the person accepting the
document so altered.

The more frequent form of cheque fraud is effected by adding to such
words as six, seven, eight and nine. The addition of _ty_ and _y_ is all
that is necessary. But the ordinarily careful business man never leaves
sufficient blank space between his words to admit of this addition,
while there are few bank tellers who do not carefully scrutinise a
cheque made out for these larger amounts.

It may be accepted as a satisfactory fact that cheque forgery is not
only extremely difficult, but rarely successful. Great frauds are
usually perpetrated by means of other instruments, such as bills of
exchange, credit notes, &c.

An erasure is the easiest thing to detect if looked for. To begin with
it is only necessary to hold a scratched document to the light to have
the alteration revealed.

Erasing must of necessity remove part of the surface of the paper which
is made noticeably thinner at the spot erased.

In nearly every case the writing that has been added to the erasure is
blurred, owing to the rough and absorbent character of the paper. Expert
forgers have devised means of counteracting this by rubbing in some
substance which partially restores the original smoothness and mitigates
the blurred appearance. But such devices ought not to be successful for
they are so easily detected.

As a matter of fact the only chance the forger of an erased cheque has
lies in the carelessness of the teller. Any crowding of words and
unequal spacing in the filling up of a cheque ought to excite suspicion
and provoke careful and closer scrutiny, and, it may be added, it
generally does.

The addition of letters intended to increase the value of a number, such
as the adding of _ty_ to six or seven, is easy of detection if properly
looked for.

It is safe to assume that the addition has been made long after the
original word was written, and the point of junction can be detected by
the aid of a good glass.

Had the word been originally written sixty, the chances are that there
would be no perceptible break between the _x_ and the _t_. Few persons
write such short words in a disconnected manner. On placing the word
under an ordinary glass the point of junction will be plainly apparent,
and a microscope, or an enlarged photograph, cannot fail to reveal the
fraud. Of course these latter tests will not be possible under the
ordinary circumstances attending the paying out of a cheque over the
counter, but when once the peculiarities of such alterations have been
studied, it is marvellous how quick the eye becomes in recognizing them
at a glance.

Erasure in writings on stout thick paper is not quite so readily noticed
as those on thin paper such as cheques; but the same methods of
examination will apply--holding the document to the light, or level with
and horizontal to the eye. A very effective application of the latter
test is to bend or curve the paper, making an arch. The bending has a
tendency to stretch and widen the erased part, and if any smoothing
substance such as starch or wax has been added to restore the gloss of
the scraped portion, it will usually reveal itself by separating and
coming away in dust or tiny flakes. This process may be accentuated by
drawing the suspected document over a ruler, or, better still, a pencil,
repeating the motion several times.



It is obvious that writing executed with a pencil or the now much-used
stylograph will differ in many respects from that performed by an
ordinary pen. It is not too much to say that their use will eliminate
many features and introduce new ones. This change is mainly brought
about by the different way in which a pencil or stylograph is held in
comparison with a pen. There is a much greater sense of freedom. The
pencil can be, and is, turned and twisted in the process of making a
stroke as a pen cannot be, and the signs of this freedom become apparent
in a more rounded stroke. Even a writer whose characters are acutely
angular shows a tendency to a more graceful outline. As a matter of
fact, it is comparatively rare to meet a pencilled writing that is
pronouncedly angular.

The same remarks apply with only little modification to writing produced
by the stylograph, and for the same reason--the ease and freedom with
which the instrument is held.

There is no possibility of mistaking writing produced by a stylograph
for that of an ordinary steel nib. The strokes are absolutely uniform in
thickness. No nib-formed writing can be so, for it is impossible for a
writer, however careful, to avoid putting pressure on his pen at some
point; and the opening of the nib, however slight, must produce an
apparent thickening.

Therefore, recognising these facts, the expert is always extremely
careful in giving an opinion upon a writing produced by pencil or stylo
unless he have ample specimens of the writer's productions done with
these instruments.

At the same time, although an absence of characteristics present in pen
writing would be noticeable, the main features would exist: for example,
the space between words and letters would be the same; the dot over the
_i_ would be in its customary position; the bar of the _t_ would be of
the same type as heretofore. The principal changes would be in the
direction of a more uniform stroke with a tendency to greater rotundity.

Persons who habitually employ the stylo very frequently develop an
unconscious habit of twisting the pen at certain points so as to form a
deep, rounded dot. This occurs principally at the ends of words and
strokes. A magnifying-glass reveals this peculiarity at once, and, when
discovered, notice should be taken of the circumstances under which this
twisting is usually done. It will be found, most probably, that the
trick is uniform; that is, certain letters or strokes are mostly
finished with the dot.

There is a well-known public character who for years has employed no
other writing instrument but the stylo. His writing possesses one
peculiarity which is so habitual that in four hundred examples examined
it was absent in only five. He forms this twist dot at the end of the
last letter at the end of every line. The inference and explanation is
that, in raising the pen to travel back to the next line, he twists it
with a backward motion in harmony with the back movement. Another trick
is to make the same dot in words on which he appears to have halted or
hesitated before writing the next. In every such case there is an extra
wide space between the word ended by a dot and that which follows. It
would appear as if the writer mechanically made the dot while pausing to
choose the next word. This is a striking example of the unconscious

Something akin to it occurs in the handwriting of a famous lawyer. Here
and there in his letters will be noticed a faint, sloping, vertical
stroke, like a figure _1_. Those who have seen him write explain it
thus. While hesitating in the choice of a word he moves his pen up and
down over the paper, and unintentionally touches it. It is such slips as
these which often supply the expert with valuable clues to identity.
When they occur they should be carefully examined, for in the majority
of cases a reason will be found for their presence.



That mischievous and cowardly form of secret attack, the anonymous
letter, demands, unfortunately, a large amount of attention from the
handwriting expert. One of the most pleasant rewards that can attend the
conscientious and painstaking student of handwriting lies in the
knowledge that his art may sometimes enable him to bring to deserved
punishment the assassin of reputation and domestic happiness.

It is a moot point, which has been discussed by legal authorities, as to
whether the handwriting expert is justified in tendering evidence and
opinions of a kind that may be said to belong by right to the criminal
investigator. By this is meant that the expert should not be allowed to
point out to a jury such pieces of circumstantial evidence as the
similarity of the paper used by the suspected person with other found in
his possession; that he ought not to direct attention to postmarks,
coincidence of dates, similarity of ink used, the employment of certain
words and phrases, and other external and indirect clues that point to
the authorship. It is urged that the whole duty of the expert is to say
whether in his opinion two or more writings are by the same hand or not,
and any expression of opinion outside this question is _ultra vires_.

The obvious answer to this objection is that it is impossible to limit
the expert in the selection of those points which appeal to and assist
him in forming an opinion. It is impossible to say what may or may not
suggest a valuable clue to a keen observer; and as the expert is often
called upon to give reasons for his opinion he is quite justified in
indicating the steps by which he arrived at it.

These circumstances arise more often in connection with anonymous
letters than with ordinary signature forgeries, for the field of
exploration and the material examined are so much larger. Details become
invaluable. The quality and make of the paper used, or a peculiar method
of folding and placing it in the envelope may afford a clue that will
put the expert on the high road to an important discovery. It is
impossible to say how or where a clue may lurk. The torn edge of a
postage stamp once supplied a hint that was followed up successfully. A
smudge on the envelope, that matched a similar one on a packet of
envelopes in the writing case of a person quite unsuspected, led to
conviction, as did a number of an address that was crossed out and
rewritten, the anonymous writer having, by force of habit, begun with
the number he was in the habit of writing--his own.

In short, the expert has, _nolens volens_, to assume many of the
functions of the crime investigator in dealing with apparent trifles,
and even if they do not always help him in reaching his goal, they
provide material for exercising the useful art of observation. Strictly
speaking the expert should, perhaps, ignore all outside suggestions as
to the authorship, and confine himself to saying whether or not the
specimens submitted are in the same handwriting; but in practice this
will be found extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the student
cannot shut his eyes to the accidental clues that invariably arise in
the examination of the evidence, and almost before he realizes it, the
most cautious expert finds himself trespassing upon ground that by right
should be the preserve of the detective.

The points raised here may, however, be safely left to be dealt with by
the judgment of the student as they arise. In the early stages of study
they will probably not present themselves with the same force and
frequency as later on, when they will be appreciated as providing useful
private pointers for guidance; and though at times they may put the
inexperienced student upon a false scent, he will have no difficulty in
detecting his error if, when in doubt, he follows the principles laid
down for the comparison of handwriting.

The first step to the examination of the anonymous letter consists in
procuring as many suspects as possible, which, as before advised, should
be lettered or numbered and put aside, until the original, which in this
case is the anonymous letter, has been studied and mastered. The
external evidence of which so much has already been said may or may not
be looked for.

Next proceed with the examination and comparison of the writings. It is
presumed that the student has prepared his notes of the peculiarities of
the original; he has now to search for them in the suspects. Suppose he
begins with the spurs and beards, having found them well marked in the
original. He will take any one of the suspects and examine it for a
repetition of the same signs. He may follow on with the rest of the
suspects, taking advantage of his memory being fresh on this point, or
he may prefer to exhaust one suspect of all its evidences before
proceeding with another; but practice and experience will decide the
best course in this matter, and influence the line of procedure.

Whatever method is pursued, all have the same object--the discovery of
the peculiarities of the original in one or more of the suspects, and
the student will be wise if he follow accurately the course laid down in
the chapter on "How to Examine a Writing."

It is generally safe to take it for granted that the writing in an
anonymous letter is disguised. There are occasions when the author
persuades another person to write for him, but only rarely; for the
perpetrator of a contemptible act is not usually brazen and indiscreet
enough to expose himself to others. The same reasons lend strength to
the presumption that the writing will, so far as its general appearance
goes, be as much the opposite of the author's usual style as his
ingenuity can make it. The extreme back hand occurs very frequently. It
seems to be the first impulse of the anonymous writer to avoid the right
slope. Even when the normal hand is a vertical, with a tendency to back
hand, the extreme left slope is often chosen. Fortunately, the assumed
back hand is one of the most transparent of disguises. If the student
has practised it, he will not need to be reminded how difficult it is
for a writer to conceal his mannerisms. By altering the slope he has
only stretched and lengthened his outlines, and the expert soon learns
to recognise them in their new form.

Another common disguise is the illiterate hand. This is quite as easy of
detection. It is no easier for the practised and fluent writer to
reproduce the shaky, irregular outlines of the illiterate, than it is
for the speaker of pure and cultured English to imitate the coarse
accent of the vulgar. However good the copy it always breaks down early,
and the sudden and unconscious firm, clear and geometrically accurate
stroke reveals the practised writer beneath the mask. Sometimes an
accurately placed punctuation mark supplies the necessary clue, for when
once the art of proper punctuation has been acquired it becomes almost
automatic. Even experienced novelists are caught this way occasionally.
They will introduce a letter, supposed to be the work of an illiterate
character. The grammar and orthography suggest the idea, but the more
difficult details of punctuation will be attended to, even to the
apostrophe that marks the elided _g_ in such words as "talkin',"
"comin'," &c.

Very difficult and troublesome is the letter written throughout in
imitation printed characters. The expert has to rely upon the curved
lines, accidental punctuation marks and unpremeditated flourishes and
hand-gestures; but, broadly speaking, such a letter is beyond the skill
of the expert if unaided by accidental betrayal. If, as sometimes
happens, the writer is ingenious enough to adopt an alphabet formed
completely of straight lines and angles--an easy task--he may boast of
having produced a detection-proof writing; that is, if characters formed
with the aid of a rule can be called writing, for it defies detection,
because there are none of the signs essential for comparison, and is
less easy of identification than an incomplete skeleton. In the absence
of external clues, an expert would refuse to do more than offer a very
guarded opinion, and it would be wiser to decline to offer any comment

Another trick that has been resorted to by some persons is writing with
the hand constricted by a tight-fitting glove. This produces a very
effective disguise; but if the student will practise with the same
impediment, he will discover many useful rules for guiding him on the
road to penetrating this entanglement.

It should be remembered that the less control a writer has over his pen,
the more likely is he unintentionally to revert to those forms to which
he is habituated, for, left by itself, the hand steers the more
familiar course. Disguise, alteration and variation on customary forms
are the result of premeditation. When the mind is occupied more with the
subject than the formation of characters, the latter naturally assume
that shape to which the force of custom has bent them.



The collection of autographs, letters, and documents of literary and
historical interest has for many years been a prominent feature in the
collecting world, but at no time was the quest more keen or conducted on
more systematic lines than to-day. The records of the leading sale rooms
often supply matter for surprise, the prices asked and obtained for rare
and choice specimens being such as to excite both wonder and amazement,
sometimes tempered with scepticism.

It is, therefore, not surprising that this profitable and growing market
should have attracted the fraudulent, for the prizes when won are
generally of a substantial character, and amply repay the misapplied
effort and ingenuity demanded.

The success which has attended too many of these frauds may be largely
accounted for by the fact that in many cases the enthusiasm of the
collector has outrun his caution.

Many a man famous for his astuteness in the pursuit of his ordinary
business has allowed himself to fall an easy victim to the forger, thus
exemplifying the familiar adage that we are easily persuaded to believe
what we want to believe.

The recorded stories of some of the frauds perpetrated upon ardent and
presumably judicious collectors read like the tales told so often of the
triumph of the confidence trickster, and one marvels how a person of
ordinary power of observation, to say nothing of experience, could fall
a victim to a fraud requiring little perception to detect. The
explanation doubtless lies in the direction indicated--the ardour of the
pursuit, the pride and joy of possessing something that is absolutely

The leading case--to use an expressive legal term--is that known as the
Vrain-Lucas fraud, the principal victim of which was Mons. Chasles,
probably the greatest of modern French geometricians, and one of the few
foreign savants entitled to append the distinguishing mark of a F.R.S.
of England.

Lucas was a half-educated frequenter, and nominal reading student of the
great Parisian library, and for some years had dealt in autographs in a
small way, the specimens he offered being undoubtedly genuine. Inspired
by the collecting ardour and the apparent blind faith placed in him by
M. Chasles, Lucas embarked upon a series of deceptions so impudent, that
it is easy to sympathise with the defence put forward by his advocate at
the trial, namely, that the fraud was so transparent that it could only
be regarded as a freak.

In the period between the years 1861 and 1869, Lucas sold to his dupe
the enormous number of 27,000 documents, every one a glaring fraud. They
comprised letters purporting to have been written by such improbable
authors as Abelard, Alcibiades, Alexander the Great to Aristotle,
Cicero, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Sappho, Anacreon, Pliny, Plutarch, St.
Jerome, Diocletian, Juvenal, Socrates, Pompey, and--most stupendous joke
of all--Lazarus after his resurrection.

It is hard to believe, and but for the irrefutable records of the Court,
few would credit the fact that every one of these letters was in the
French language! And the dupe a highly educated mathematician of
European repute.

In the face of such incredible gullibility one is disposed to regard the
sentence of two years' imprisonment and a fine of 500 francs as
extravagantly severe, even despite the fact that Lucas received in all
over 140,000 francs from M. Chasles.

The Chatterton and Ireland forgeries are familiar to all educated
persons. These, however, hardly come under the head of the class of
fraud with which the ordinary forger is associated. In each of these
cases the motive of the deception was not so much to make money as a
literary reputation. In both cases presumably competent judges were
deceived. But the standard by which they gauged the genuineness of the
productions was not caligraphic, but literary. In neither instance was
there occasion or opportunity for the handwriting expert to exercise his
skill, for the sufficient reason that there existed no material with
which the writings could be compared. What the literary expert had to do
was to examine and compare the style of the compositions--a test in
which the idiosyncrasies and predilections of the judge played a leading

Probably the greatest, and for a short time the most successful
autograph fraud perpetrated in Great Britain was that known as the case
of the Rillbank MSS., the detection and exposure of which were mainly
attributable to one of the authors of this work (Capt. W. W. Caddell).

Just before, and up till 1891, there was in Edinburgh a young man named
Alexander Howland Smith, who claimed to be the son of a reputable
Scottish law official, and a descendant of Sir Walter Scott.

On the strength of his presumed connection with the great novelist, he
had no difficulty in disposing of, to an Edinburgh bookseller, for
prices whose smallness alone should have excited suspicion, letters
purporting to be in the handwriting of Sir Walter Scott. Emboldened by
success, he embarked upon a wholesale manufacture of spurious letters
bearing the signatures of Burns, Edmund Burke, Sir Walter Scott, Grattan
and Thackeray. His principal victim was an Edinburgh chemist, Mr. James
Mackenzie, who, when the fraud was not only suspected, but proved,
distinguished himself by a stubborn and courageous defence of the
genuineness of the documents.

Smith's _modus operandi_ consisted in purchasing large-sized volumes of
the period of the subjects of his forgeries, and using the blank leaves
for the purpose of fabricating the letters. In May, 1891, a number of
alleged Burns' letters were put up for sale by public auction at
Edinburgh, fetching the surprising paltry price of from twenty to thirty
shillings apiece.

It was a feature of all Smith's productions that the letters were
extremely brief--a feature common to literary forgeries. The
circumstance which first gave rise to suspicion was that the letters
attributed to Scott, Burke, Burns, General Abercrombie, Grattan and
Thackeray all began and ended with the same words. Those signed by Sir
Walter Scott all began "I have your letter," and ended "I remain," a
form of phraseology the reputed writer never used, but which, according
to Smith, was common to all the distinguished men whose handwriting he
had counterfeited with considerable success.

On the strength of the partial guarantee provided by the sale of some of
these documents at a reputable auction room, Captain Caddell purchased a
parcel of alleged Scott letters without prior inspection. A brief
examination disclosed their fraudulent nature, and Smith was arrested.
The Edinburgh police took the matter up, and the impostor was convicted
in June, 1893, and sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment.

Thackeray and Dickens are favourite subjects with most literary forgers,
Washington and Benjamin Franklin running them very close for
favouriteship. American collectors are particularly keen on procuring
specimens of the last two-named, and there is grave reason to believe
that many fall easy victims.

Fortunately the facilities for comparing and testing the genuineness of
the autographs of every distinguished person whose holographs are most
in favour with the forger, are numerous. In addition to the splendid
collection of specimens extant at the British Museum Library, there are
many facsimiles available.

The excellent work on Autograph Collecting by Dr. Henry T. Scott (Upcott
Gill, London) is indispensable to the collector. It contains some
hundreds of specimens, specially selected for the purposes of
comparison, and gives besides many very valuable rules and hints for
detecting the real from the sham.

Dr. Scott, writing of the autographic letters of his distinguished
namesake, says:

"Of Sir Walter Scott's autographs it may be observed (1) the paper is
generally letter size, gilt edged, with a soft, firm feeling to the
touch, and an unglazed surface. (2) The date and residence are placed on
the top and right hand, with a good space before the 'My Dear Sir,'
uniform margins on the left side of the paper of a quarter of an inch,
but on the right side no margin at all, the writing being carried close
to the edge. The folding is done with the precision of a man of
business, forming the space for the address into a nice oblong almost in
the centre of the sheet, and the first line of the address is written
nearly in the centre of the space with the remainder below.

"The watermarks found on the paper are one of the following:
Valleyfield, 1809; C. Wilmott, 1815; J. Dickinson and Co., 1813; J.
Dickinson, 1816; J. Dickinson (without date); J. Whatman, 1814; J.
Whatman (without date); Turkey Mill, 1819; Turkey Mill (without date);
G. C. & Co., 1828."

The paper used by Burns for his correspondence was always large in size,
rough in surface, never glossy, and all four edges had the rough edge
that is the peculiarity of a Bank of England note.

It is worthy of remark that in the case of the A. H. Smith Burns
forgeries, suspicion was first excited by a simple but significant
matter. The paper contained several worm holes. These had been carefully
avoided by the writer, he knowing that if his pen touched them the
result would be a spluttering and spreading of the ink.

Now it is safe to assume that these worm holes, being the effect of age,
did not exist at the time the letter--if genuine--was written; as the
worm did its work long afterwards, it must be regarded as a fortunate
circumstance that in perforating the paper it refrained from destroying
the writing, carefully selecting the wider spaces that the poet had,
with commendable foresight, left for the insect's depredations.

The letters of Thackeray are in two styles of handwriting, the earlier
sloping slightly, the latter vertical, round, neat and print-like, the
capital _I_ being invariably a simple vertical stroke. His is the most
neat and uniformly readable hand of all the great literary characters.
It is somewhat unfortunate that he was not anything like so uniform in
his choice of paper. Letters are in existence on an extraordinary
variety of material, from a quarto sheet to a scrap torn from half a
sheet of note paper. On many of these letters is neither address nor
date, but when once the characteristics of the charming handscript have
been mastered, they are never forgotten, and are recognisable amid the
closest imitations.

There are extant a number of forged Thackeray's. Their distinguishing
features are that they are invariably very short, as if the forger
feared to provide sufficient matter to supply material for comparison;
most are on single half sheets of note paper, many on quarto sheets of
varying texture and quality, and the characteristic vertical _I_,
Thackeray's trade mark, always occurs. It is shaky and often out of the
perpendicular, as the genuine rarely is. In the forgeries we have seen
and suspect to be the work of A. H. Smith, a very significant sign is a
sudden thickening of the downstrokes of tailed letters like _y_, _f_,
_g_, producing a tiny diamond-shaped excrescence in the middle of the
letter. The glass reveals that ragged-edged stroke which is inseparable
from the writing of the nervous copyist.

It is generally safe to be cautious about very short letters. The forger
well knows how difficult is the task of maintaining an assumed
character. Just as the mimic may succeed in reproducing the tone and
manner of a person with sufficient closeness to deceive even the most
intimate acquaintances of the subject, yet fail to carry the deception
beyond a few words or phrases, so the literary forger invariably breaks
down when he attempts to simulate handwriting over many sentences. So
conscious is he of this great difficulty that he often avoids it by
boldly copying some genuine letter. We have had offered to us
"guaranteed" Thackeray letters which we immediately recognised as such.
In one particularly glaring case the forger had copied the original
letter very fairly so far as the penmanship was concerned, but while the
original was written on a half sheet of note paper, the forgery was on a
different size paper, and the writing across the length of the paper
instead of the breadth. This naturally disarranged the spacing between
the words, which in all Thackeray's writings is a pronouncedly regular
feature, and this variation was in itself sufficient to excite

The popularity of Dickens among collectors grows steadily. Despite the
fact that he was an industrious correspondent, and that a very large
number of his letters appear from time to time in the market, the demand
is ever in excess of the supply. As a consequence he has suffered
perhaps more than any of the literary immortals at the hands of the
forger. Yet it is safe to say that there should be no writer so safe
from fraudulent imitation, for there is a peculiar distinctiveness about
his caligraphic productions that once seen and noted should never be
forgotten. Specimens are easily available. The catalogues of dealers are
constantly presenting them, and most public libraries possess examples,
either in the original holograph or in some form of reproduction.

Probably no writer preserved his style with such little change as
Dickens. His signature in later years varied somewhat from that of his
literary youth, but the body of his handscript retained throughout the
same characteristics. It was always a free, fluent, graceful hand,
legible as that of Thackeray when its leading peculiarities have been
mastered, but less formal and studied than his. It was always remarkably
free from corrections or interlineations. He wrote with the easy freedom
of the stenographer; indeed it is easy to recognise in the delicate
gracefully formed letters the effect of years of training in the most
difficult and exacting form of handscript.

Perhaps the leading peculiarities in the Dickens holograph are these:--

The date of the month is never expressed in figures, but always written
in full; in fact, abbreviation in any form he never countenanced.

The letter _y_, both as a capital and a small letter is a figure 7
except in the affix "ly," when the two letters become an _f_ or long
stroke _s_.

The letter _t_ is crossed by the firm downward bar, which the character
readers claim as a sign of great resolution.

Letter _g_ is invariable in form.

Capital _E_ consists of a downstroke with a bar in the centre.

The hook of many final letters has a tendency to turn backwards.

New paragraphs are marked by beginning the line about an inch from the
left-hand margin.

A very marked peculiarity noticeable in many letters is that the
left-hand margin gradually grows wider as the lines approach the bottom
of the page. The narrowing is wondrously regular, a line drawn from the
first letter on the first line to the corresponding position on the last
will touch nearly every other line. This peculiarity appears to have
escaped every forger whose work we have examined.

If the signs relied upon by the readers of character in handwriting are
to be accepted, self-esteem was a pronounced characteristic of the great
novelist. His writing abounds with those subtle symptoms of the
prevalence of that weakness.

His signature is perhaps the best known of any with which the British
public are familiar. It is remarkably uniform, and remained precisely
the same from the time he adopted it after the Pickwick period until his
death. That which he used in youth was less striking, but none the less

After the Pickwick period Dickens adopted the use of blue paper and blue
ink. Letters in black ink, if undated, may safely be attributed to the
earlier period.

His note paper was in later years of the regulation note size. The
address, Gads' Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent, was in embossed
black old English letter. His paper was hand-made, and of good quality.
The envelopes were blue, of the same quality paper, but without crest,
monogram or distinctive mark. Dickens' vanity expressed itself in the
habit of franking envelopes, _i.e._, by writing his name in the
left-hand bottom corner, after the fashion in vogue when Peers and
M.P.'s enjoyed the privilege of free postage.

His letters of the pre-envelope period--before 1842--were on quarto
sheets. These are exceedingly rare.

There is one feature about autographic forgery which may always be
relied upon to assist greatly in the work of detection. As a general
rule there is sufficient matter in a literary forgery to supply the
necessary material for comparison. It must of necessity be a copy, if
not of an existing original, at least of the general style. The process
of imitation must be slow and cautious, and the signs remain in shaky,
broken lines, and a ruggedness entirely absent from the writing of the
real author, which is fluent and free. Even the shakiness of age
noticeable in a few distinguished handwritings is different to the
shakiness of the forger's uncertainty.



The most difficult phase of the art of the handwriting expert consists
in the detection of forgery in signatures. It will be obvious to the
student who has followed the instructions and illustrations already
given that this difficulty is brought about by two principal causes:
first, by the paucity of material for comparison; secondly, because of
the very important fact that a forgery must, by its nature, be a good
and close copy of an original. This means that the unconscious tricks
and irregularities that often abound in a long letter, written in a more
or less disguised hand, are almost entirely absent from a forged
signature. It follows, therefore, that the student must have some other
clues and rules to guide him, for he cannot rely upon the chance of a
slip or accidental trick occurring in a signature that contains at most
perhaps a dozen letters.

The first step in the examination of a suspected signature is to master
thoroughly the various characteristics of the genuine signature. These
must be studied in every possible relation, and from as many specimens
as can be obtained. The magnifying glass must be in constant use and the
eye alert to detect the angle at which the pen is habitually held, the
class of pen used, and the degree of pressure and speed employed. These
last-named points can only be discovered as the result of practice and
observation, and though at first sight it may appear impossible to form
a correct estimate of the pace at which a pen has travelled, the student
will, if observant, soon learn to detect the difference between a
swiftly formed stroke and one written with slowness and deliberation. By
making a number of each kind of stroke and carefully examining them
through a glass, the student will learn in an hour more than can be
taught by means of verbal description. The study of the genuine
signatures must be continued until every stroke and its peculiarities
are as familiar as the features of a well-known face, for until one is
thoroughly impregnated with the original it will be useless to proceed
with the examination of the suspects.

At first sight the student will probably perceive very little, if any,
difference between the original and the suspect. It would be a very
clumsy forgery if he could. Gradually the points of dissimilarity will
become clear to him, and with each fresh examination they grow plainer,
until he is surprised that they did not sooner strike him; they are so
obvious that the eye cannot avoid them; they stand out as plainly as the
hidden figure, after it has been detected, in the well-known picture
puzzles. There are few faculties capable of such rapid and accurate
development as that of observation. Thousands of persons go through life
unconscious of the existence of certain common things until the occasion
arises for noticing them, or accident forces them upon the attention;
then they marvel that the thing should have escaped observation. This is
a truism, no doubt, but the force of every platitude does not always
present itself to every one. The comparison of handwritings is so
essentially a matter of cultivating the powers of observation, that even
if turned to no more practical account than that of a hobby its value as
a mental exercise is great.

There are two principal methods by which a signature may be forged:
first, by carefully copying the original as one would copy a drawing;
secondly, by tracing it.

The first process is referred to as copied. The forger will, most
probably, have practised the signature before affixing it to the cheque
or other document, thereby attaining a certain degree of fluency. But
however well executed, close examination with the aid of the magnifying
glass will reveal those signs of hesitancy and irregularity that one may
reasonably expect to find in a copy.

There is no part of a person's handwriting so fluent and free as his
signature. Even the most illiterate persons show more freedom and
continuity of outline in their signature than in the body of their
writing. This is explicable on the ground of usage. A writer may feel a
degree of momentary uncertainty in forming a word that he does not
write frequently, but his signature he is more sure about. He strikes it
off without hesitancy, and in the majority of cases appends some
meaningless flourish, which may be described as a superfluous stroke or
strokes added for the purpose of ornamentation, for adding
distinctiveness, or, in some cases, and particularly with business men,
with the idea that the flourishes help to secure the signature from
forgery. Such writers will probably be surprised to learn that there is
no form of signature so easy to forge as that involved and complicated
by a maze of superfluous lines and meaningless flourishes. The most
difficult signature for the forger is the clear, plain,
copybook-modelled autograph. A little thought and examination will make
the reason for this clear.

Let a signature be enveloped in a web of curves and flourishes, making
it look like a complicated script monogram. The lines are so numerous
that the eye cannot take them all in at a glance, and, if copied, any
slight irregularity or departure from the original is more likely to
pass undetected amid the confusing network of interlaced lines. If, on
the other hand, the signature be simple and free from the bewildering
effects of flourishes, the entire autograph lies revealed, a clear and
regular outline, and the slightest variation from the accustomed figure
stands out naked and plain. Most of the successful forgeries will be
found to be on signatures of the complicated order. Their apparent
impregnability has tempted the facile penman to essay the task of
harmless imitation; his success has surprised and flattered him, and the
easy possibilities of forgery opened up. More than one forger has
admitted that his initiatory lessons were prompted by an innocent
challenge to imitate a particularly complicated "forgery-proof"

It must be remembered that the eye of the casual observer takes in a
word as a whole rather than in detail. This explains why an author can
rarely be trusted to correct his own proofs. He knows what the word
should be, and in reading his work in print he notices only the general
expected effect of a word. It needs the trained eye of the proof-reader
to detect the small _c_ that has taken the place of the _e_, the
battered _l_ that is masquerading as an _i_. So long as the general
outline of the word is not distorted the wrong letters are often passed;
and it is much the same with a signature with which one is fairly
familiar. The trained examiner of handwriting, like the proof-reader,
knows what to look for, and discovers irregularities that would escape
the notice of the untrained eye.

The first part of a genuine signature that should be examined is the
flourish, which includes all fancy strokes appended to it, and any
superfluous addition to the body of the letters. A close scrutiny
through the glass will show that the lines forming the tail-flourish are
generally clear, firm and sharp in outline, being formed, not only
without hesitation, but with a dash and decided sweep that are strongly
at variance with the broken, saw-edged, unsteady line of the copy. It
will also generally be found to follow an almost fixed rule in the
matter of its proportionate conformation: that is, supposing the writer
finishes up with a horizontal line under his signature, it will be seen,
on averaging a dozen or so of them, that the distance of the line from
the feet of the letters is proportionately uniform. If the line be begun
with a spur or curved inward hook, that feature will be repeated. The
end of the flourish or final stroke, at the point where the pen leaves
the paper, should be very carefully examined. One writer finishes with
an almost imperceptible dot, as if the pen had been stabbed into the
paper; another finishes with a curve, either upward or downward; a third
with a hook turned upward, either a curve or an angle; while a fourth
continues the line till it becomes finer and sharper to vanishing point.
Some writers are fond of concluding with a more or less bold and
expansive underline running horizontally with the signature. A close
examination will show a variation in the degrees of thickness of such a
line, which should be carefully noted and looked for in other genuine

In this connection it will be found extremely useful and instructive to
study strokes, either horizontal or vertical, with a view to discovering
whether they were struck from right to left, top to bottom, or _vice
versâ_. The glass will render it easy to detect beginning from end after
a few failures, which, by the way, should not be allowed to discourage,
for every minute devoted to the study of handwriting is so much gain in
experience, and represents so much more learned, which will never be

The flourishes that occur on and about the signature proper must be
treated as exaggerated loops, and their shoulders, arcs, hooks and toes
carefully measured and noted. For this purpose an average genuine
signature should be selected and gauged, which is done in this way:
Place over it a sheet of transfer paper. With the scale-rule and a fine
pencil draw horizontal lines that will touch the tops and bottoms of the
bodies of the letters, lines that touch the tops and bottoms of the
tailed and topped letters, and vertical lines that follow the shanks of
every topped or tailed letter, including the capitals. The gauge, when
completed, will represent a framework fitting the signature, and its use
is twofold. It helps the eye to detect the variations in the general
contour of the signature, and, when placed over another, brings out the
points of difference. Due allowance must be made for proportion. It is
obvious that the distance of letters will be greater in a signature
written larger than another, but the proportionate distances will be
preserved. The difference in the size of a letter is not very important,
except that it offers more scope for examination. For example, a looped
_l_ may be very small or half an inch long; but, if made by the same
writer, the proportionate width at top, bottom and middle will be
preserved, and compare with the same measurements in the smaller letter.
Signatures of the same writer do not often vary much in size, though
they may be thicker or finer according to the character of the pen used;
but observation will show that the difference in a handwriting caused by
the use of different pens is much more imaginary than real.

The traced signature is produced by placing the paper over the genuine
autograph, holding it to the light, generally on a sheet of glass, and
tracing it with a fine point. Such forgeries are often more easily
detected than the copied signature, for the reason that signs of the
tracing process can generally be found by careful examination. The fine,
hard point used to trace the autograph leaves a smooth hollow, which can
be seen through the glass on examining the back of the cheque or
document. If the paper be held in a line with the eye in a strong light,
the ridge will be more clearly perceived. The difference between a mark
made by a hard point and a pen can be tested by experiment. The hard
point must of necessity be pressed with a degree of force to make the
desired impression on the paper, and the result is a smooth hollow. But
if a pen be pressed hard, it produces two parallel lines, and, instead
of a hollow, a ridge is formed between the parallels. Of course, it will
be so slight as to be hardly perceptible, except through a strong glass,
but it will be there nevertheless, and knowing what to look for, the
expert will generally have no difficulty in satisfying himself whether
the forgery has been traced or copied, a very valuable piece of evidence
when once settled, for it is within the bounds of probability that the
genuine signature from which the tracing was made may be discovered. It
is possible, and has often occurred, that the writer of the original may
have some recollection of having written to the suspected person, or in
many ways a clue may be suggested. There is a well-known case of a
forgery being brought home to the perpetrator through the accuracy of
the tracing. It is a fact easily proved, that no man can write a word
twice, so exactly, that if the two are overlaid they fit. If two such
signatures be produced, it is safe to assume that one has been traced or
otherwise mechanically produced. In the case mentioned a signature on a
cheque was pronounced a forgery by the person supposed to have signed
it. In examining specimens of the genuine autograph, the experts came
upon one which, when placed upon that on the cheque, proved a perfect
replica, down to the most minute detail, showing beyond question that it
had been used to trace the forgery from. It was further proved that the
original had been in the possession of the supposed forger, and the jury
were asked to decide whether it was probable that a man could reproduce
his signature in exact facsimile after a lapse of time, and without the
original before him. As the chances against such a contingency are many
millions to one--a fact the student can verify--the jury decided against
the forger.

At the risk of appearing tautological to a tiresome degree it is
necessary to accentuate the fact that the comparison of handwriting,
and more particularly of signatures, is essentially dependent on
cultivating the faculty of observation. This art cannot be taught; it
can only be acquired by practice and experience, like swimming or
riding. The teacher can at most indicate the method of study and some of
the leading principles of conducting an investigation. Most men are not
naturally observant, and the habit can be best fostered by having an
object; but when once a person has been taught what to look for he
almost instinctively notices details that previously never struck him.
This is specially true of the study of handwriting.

The best method of practice that can be adopted by the student is to
begin by making a careful study of his own signature and writing. He
will be surprised at the number of facts hitherto unsuspected that will
be revealed to him. The value of using his own handwriting as a subject
of examination lies in this, that the student can satisfy himself how
and why certain strokes are made. This he can only guess at in the
writing of others.

The preliminary exercise should consist in studying the effect produced
by the different methods of holding the pen. The signature supplies
excellent material for this class of practice. Begin by holding the pen
with the top end pointed well towards the left shoulder, in the absurd
and unnatural position taught by the old school of writing masters.
Repeat the signature with the pen held a trifle less acutely angular,
and go on till six or eight signatures have been written at a decreasing
angle--until the top of the penholder points well to the right,
producing what is known as a backhand. The effect of these angles must
be carefully noted, and in a short time it will be found possible to
arrive at a very accurate opinion as to how the writer of a particular
signature habitually holds his pen--an important and valuable piece of
knowledge. The practice should be extended to long sentences, and a
frequent repetition of all the letters, capital and small, the
magnifying glass being always used to examine the effect of the various
and varying strokes.

In examining a signature for comparing it with a suspected forgery it
should be copied very frequently, as the clues and suggestions the
experiments will produce are of much greater service than will at first
appear, and of more practical value than pages of theory, as the how and
why will be revealed for much that would be obscure without this
assistance. As experience grows, it will not be necessary to adopt this
copying process so often, for the eye soon becomes alert at detecting
slight shades of difference in strokes, and a glance will convey more
than could be explained in many pages.



When the expert has been called upon to give an opinion upon the
genuineness of writings he embodies his conclusions in a report of which
the following may be taken as a fair example:--

    To the Chief of Police.


                            REX _versus_ JONES.

    In accordance with your instructions dated ---- I beg leave to
    inform you that I have made a careful examination of the document
    marked _A_, and attached hereto, and compared it with the documents
    marked _B_, _C_, _D_, _E_ and _F_, also attached.

    I have arrived at the conclusion that the document _A_ was written
    by the same hand as produced _B_, _C_, _D_, _E_ and _F_.

    The main reasons which have led me to form this opinion are these:--

    First, although the writing in _A_ bears at first sight no
    resemblance to that of the other documents, the difference is only
    such as experience leads me to expect in a writing which has been
    purposely disguised, as I believe this has been.

    The writing on the five documents _B_ to _F_ I take to be the normal
    hand of the author, and that on _A_ to be the same writer's hand
    altered so as to present a different appearance. I will call the
    specimens _B_ to _F_ the genuine examples, and _A_ the disguised.

    Experience shows that the person who writes an anonymous letter
    generally seeks to disguise his hand by departing as much as he
    deems possible from his normal writing. The usual hand of the writer
    of the genuine document is a free rounded hand sloping upwards
    towards the right. The writing of _A_ presents exactly the features
    I would expect to find when, as appears to be the case here, the
    writer has adopted the familiar trick of sloping his writing in a
    direction opposite to his normal hand. While the result of this
    change is to alter the apparent style and general appearance of the
    writing, the alteration does not extend to certain tricks and
    characteristics which are plainly obvious in the genuine letters and
    are repeated in the anonymous letter _A_.

    The writing in the genuine letters contains fourteen very
    distinctive peculiarities, or tricks of hand, which I find repeated
    in the anonymous letter _A_.

                  (Here describe them, as for example.)

    1. The figure 4 in the dates is always made like the print form of
       that figure.

    2. The small _e_ is always of the Greek form.

    3. The small _t_ is always crossed by a bar thick at the beginning,
       tapering to a point, with its longest part behind the shank of
       the _t_ [and so on].

The various points of resemblance are set out in detail, a separate
paragraph for each, and each paragraph numbered.

It is extremely important that a report should be fully descriptive and
written in plain, non-technical language, easily understood by the jury,
who will have to decide whether the resemblance has been made out.

Too many handwriting experts spoil the effect of their evidence by
employing technical language and presuming on the part of the jury an
acquaintance with the methods of comparing handwritings.

Do not be satisfied by saying that certain letters resemble each other.
Show by an enlarged diagram how and where, indicating the parts to which
attention is called by arrows. Place the single letters to be compared
in parallel columns, headed with the alphabetical letter distinguishing
the document in which the particular letter occurs. Use foolscap paper,
and write on one side of the paper only.

The usual method of dealing with the handwriting expert in the
witness-box is shown in the following extract from a report of an actual

Mr. D. B---- was called by counsel for the prosecution and duly sworn.

Q.--You have had considerable experience in examining handwriting.

A.--Over twenty years.

Q.--Look at these documents. (Hands documents to witness.) Have you seen
and examined these?

A.--I have.

Q.--Have you formed any opinion upon them?

A.--I have, and have prepared a report.

In some cases the expert is allowed to read his report in full. In
others he is requested to give a verbal report, but if the point be
insisted upon, the judge generally permits the report to be read, either
by the expert or by counsel. A copy of the report, together with the
documents in dispute are then usually handed to the jury for
examination. The expert may proceed to illustrate his point with the aid
of a blackboard and chalk, but much depends upon the attitude taken by
the judge and counsel. Some judges insist that the expert shall confine
himself to expressing his opinion, leaving counsel to deal with the
explanation and comparison; others give the expert every opportunity of
showing how he has arrived at his opinions.

The examination in chief is usually a very simple matter. The trouble
for the expert begins when counsel for the other side gets up to

In nearly every case the object of the cross-examining counsel is to
ridicule the art and get the expert to admit the possibility of other
writers possessing the same peculiarities which are said to distinguish
the letters before the Court.

Counsel's favourite trick is to select some letter and ask the expert if
he is prepared to swear that he has never seen something just like it in
some other person's writing. The expert who knows his business will
insist on keeping well to the front the bedrock basis of handwriting
comparison, which is the application of the law of probability to
cumulative evidence. It is not a question whether some other person may
be in the habit of making a _t_ or a _k_ similar to those cited as
evidences of common origin, but whether it is probable that two persons
should make a dozen or more letters in precisely the same way under
similar conditions and exhibit precisely the same peculiarities of
style. He should reply with the unanswerable postulate that millions of
persons possess red hair, snub noses, a scar on the face, blue eyes,
bent fingers and a stammer; but it is millions to one against any two
persons possessing all six of those peculiarities.

In the course of his replies the expert may justifiably help his own
case by repeating, when opportunity occurs, such irrefutable axioms as,
No writer can say off-hand what peculiarities he may exhibit; that there
are scores of ways of dotting an _i_, or crossing a _t_, and that few
persons know which form they mostly affect. Fifty such points may be
gathered from this little volume alone, while acquaintance with the
works of other writers on caligraphy will supply ample ammunition for
meeting and repelling the customary form of attack on the handwriting

Another method of discrediting a witness is to remind him that experts
have differed, the Dreyfus case being usually cited. The answer is
obvious. First it is essential to be assured that those experts were all
competent, for there are degrees of competency in judging handwriting as
in every other subject on which opinion may be called. It is a notorious
fact that in the Dreyfus case the most competent experts testified that
the Henry letters were forgeries, the authorities called on the other
side being in most cases unknown men or amateurs of no standing. A
number of these self-styled experts possessed no other qualification
than presumed familiarity with the handwriting of Dreyfus. It is also
worthy of note that several of the experts on both sides proved most
inefficient witnesses, obscuring their explanations by the employment of
technical phraseology which conveyed little meaning to the lay mind.

Exactitude and regularity in the choice of the words used in describing
the parts of letters should be strictly observed by the student. The
rules given in the chapter on "Terminology" should be mastered and
adhered to. In most cases the terms there applied to letter-analysis
will be found to be self-explanatory.



No work dealing with the study of handwriting would be complete unless
it recognised that phase of it which touches on the delineation of
character by an examination of the caligraphy.

That many valuable clues can be picked up by the expert who applies the
principles on which the graphologist works is indisputable, nor is it
necessary to accept all the theories claimed as reliable by those who
practice this interesting branch of the art of writing-analysis.

There is no doubt that many persons have attained a remarkable degree of
proficiency in deducing from the hand-gestures of an unknown person a
very accurate estimate of his or her character, and this fact should
prove that the principles of the art of graphology are based on
scientific grounds, or at least that the rules on which the student
works are regular and not, as some suggest, mere guess-work or

The elder d'Israeli, in his fascinating work, the "Curiosities of
Literature," devotes considerable space to the subject. Among other
things, he says:--

"Assuredly nature would prompt every individual to have a distinct sort
of writing, as she has given a peculiar countenance, a voice, and a
manner. The flexibility of the muscles differs with every individual,
and the hand will follow the direction of the thoughts, and the emotions
and the habits of the writers.

"The phlegmatic will portray his words with signs of labour and
deliberation, while the playful haste of the volatile will scarcely
sketch them; the slovenly will blot and efface and scrawl, while the
neat and orderly-minded will view themselves in the paper before their
eyes. The merchant's clerk will not write like the lawyer or the poet.
Even nations are distinguished by their writing; the vivacity and
variableness of the Frenchman, and the delicacy and suppleness of the
Italian, are perceptibly distinct from the slowness and strength of pen
discoverable in the phlegmatic German, Dane, and Swede.

"When we are in grief we do not write as we should in joy. The elegant
and correct mind, which has acquired the fortunate habit of a fixity of
attention, will write with scarcely an erasure on the page, as Fenelon
and Gibbon; while we find in Pope's manuscripts the perpetual struggle
of correction, and the eager and rapid interlineations struck off in
heat. Lavater's notion of handwriting is by no means chimerical; nor was
General Paoli fanciful when he told Mr. Northcote he had decided on the
character and disposition of a man from his letters and the handwriting.

"Long before the days of Lavater, Shenstone in one of his letters said,
'I want to see Mrs. Jago's writing that I may judge of her temper.'

"One great truth must, however, be conceded to the opponents of the
physiognomy of handwriting. General rules only can be laid down. Yet the
vital principle must be true that the handwriting bears an analogy to
the character of the writer, as all voluntary actions are characteristic
of the individual."

       *       *       *       *       *

Professor Foli, in his very useful work, "Handwriting as an Index to
Character" (London: C. A. Pearson, Ltd.), says:

"The changes which handwriting undergoes as maturity is reached prove
how directly it is influenced by the nervous condition of the writer.

"The writing proper to childhood is large, round and accompanied by a
laboured pen movement; whereas that which is normal as manhood or
womanhood is attained is smaller, and turned off by a more rapid and
fluent motion of the hand.

"Illness, again, affects the writing. As the hand is charged with more
or less of the nerve fluid, so the writing is stronger or weaker, firmer
or feebler, as the case may be.

"This goes to show the important influence which the nerve current
exerts in fashioning the handwriting. Small wonder that our handwriting
alters day by day. Yet it does not alter either. So far as its general
appearance is concerned I grant it _seems_ to do so. But look at the
really significant points of the writing written at different times.
Give a glance at the height at which the '_i_' is dotted, the way in
which the '_t_' is barred, the manner in which the letters are, or are
not, connected and finished off. These things will crop up with unerring
uniformity time after time.

"You do, of course, get a studied handwriting now and then, just as you
sometimes meet with a formed facial expression. But that does not
express the true character, simply because the control over the feelings
or the power of disguising what is felt is a salient point in the
character; and this very fact will serve to show that there is truth in

"That the pen, whether it be a fine or a broad pointed nib, plays a
certain part in determining the thickness or thinness of the strokes, I
am willing to allow, but here again we have no argument against
graphology, for most people have their favourite nib--just as they
prefer one occupation to another--and this is the one which will best
serve to define their characteristics. The same with the surface of the
paper upon which they write; some will select a smooth, others a rough
kind, but whatever that may be which is adopted with comfort, it will be
typical of the writer."

The following are some of the more marked signs of the character they
indicate. For a fuller exposition of their application it would be well
to study the work of Foli, before mentioned, and of Rosa Baughan (Upcott
Gill, London, 2_s._ 6_d._), with the scholarly work of J.
Crépieux-Jainin, entitled, "Handwriting and Expression," translated by
J. Holt Schooling.

       *       *       *       *       *

_General Characteristic._--The fineness of an organism will be revealed
by a fine light penstroke. Coarse, low natures make heavy blurred
entangled lines.

_Activity_ is denoted by the length of the letters. Where it is feeble
the letters will be widely spaced and rounded.

_Excitability_ is shown by sharp strokes and stops. The more acute and
irregular the pen-strokes the greater the intensity of feeling.

_Aggression_, which is the inclination to attack, the destructive force,
is indicated by the final strokes of letters and the cross-bars of _t_'s
advancing well forward, the dots of the _i_'s placed well forward. In
such a word as "time" the dot would probably be between the _m_ and _e_.
The style is angular and well and evenly spaced, altogether a forward,
"go-ahead" writing.

_Economy_, or acquisitiveness, is shown by the finishing strokes being
turned backwards, and inwards; by a cramped hand, a disposition to
curtail strokes, particularly the endings of letters, as if the
expenditure of ink was begrudged.

_Secretiveness_, or extra caution, has its sign in the narrow,
tightly-closed form of the body of the letters _a_, _d_, _g_, _o_, _q_,
the _a_ and _o_ often being merely a narrow _v_. The general tendency of
the writing is to compression, the final strokes being very short. When
very marked, the letters dwindle into an indistinct unformed condition.
The substitution of dashes for punctuation is another symptom.

_Insincerity._--Beware of the man or woman whose writing is a fine, wavy
line, upright, with short, stumpy and indistinct tops and tails, words
running at their end to an almost straight line, the letters merely
indicated. The flatter, finer and more perpendicular this writing, the
greater the insincerity. Such a writer would probably be a polite,
pleasing and plausible person, but double-faced as Janus.

_Love of praise_, glory, ambition are shown by a tendency to write
upwards, the lines of writing trending towards the right-hand corner of
the paper. The signature will usually have a curved line below it, with
a degree of flourish.

_Self-esteem_, to which is allied conceit and ostentation, shows itself
in proportion to the size of the writing, the taller and more flourished
the upstrokes and the longer the downstrokes, the greater the
self-assertiveness. The flourish beneath the signature will be very
pronounced, often an elaborate spider's web of interlaced lines. The
writing is more or less angular with the finals turned backwards and

_Will power_ is shown by firm bars to the _t_, with a tendency to
descend from left to right, bludgeon-like downstrokes to tailed letters,
writing rather angular than rounded, and the final strokes finished by
a heavy pressure. Straight, firm, downward strokes take the place of the
tails to _y_, _g_, _f_, _q_.

_Sympathy_, good nature, kindness of heart are shown by a flowing open
hand, the finals of the letters being extended and thrown out with an
expansive movement. The tailed letters are long and looped, and often
turned up the right side of the letter. The letters are well apart but
not necessarily unconnected, and the style is curved. As a general rule
hard matter-of-fact natures incline to an angular style; the artistic
and softer nature affects rounded, gracefully curved strokes, and avoids
straight perpendiculars or horizontals.

_Constructiveness_, which implies the ability to combine and connect
words and phrases, is shown by joining the words together, several being
written without lifting the pen from the paper. The more simple and
ingenuous the method of attaching the words, the greater will be the
ability. When this joining of words is carried to extremes, it may be
taken as a sign of good deductive judgment.

_Observation_, by which is implied the keen, penetrating, inquiring mind
(which in excess becomes curiosity), is marked by angularity of the
strokes and finals; a small, generally neat, handwriting, with the
letters disconnected.

_Punctuation_ affords a very valuable clue to character-reading, for
reasons set out in the chapter "How to Study a Handwriting." They are
the most mechanical and unpremeditated of hand-gestures, and are,
therefore, the more valuable.

When, for example, a dot is thick and heavy, we infer that the pen has
been driven across the paper with a strong, decided movement of the
hand, which would be consistent with extreme energy and will power;
whereas, when the dot is light and faintly indicated we may be certain
that only a moderate force has been expended upon its production, which
would be compatible with less resistance and endurance in the character.

Again, a dot whose outlines were blurred would show a certain
sensuousness of character--strong passions and a want of restraint over
the lower propensities; whereas, a dot whose edges were sharply defined
would tell of refinement and a loathing against all that was coarse or

Careful attention to punctuation indicates neatness, order, method and
love of arrangement; nor is it necessary that the punctuation should be
strictly correct, for the art is but imperfectly mastered by most
people, even the best educated.

Stops that partake of the appearance of a comma indicate a degree of
impetuosity; well rounded stops imply calmness and tranquility of
temperament. When the full stops are fashioned after the form of a comma
and droop towards the right hand they indicate a tendency to sulkiness.
When they are merely angular we may infer impatience and a "peppery"

Flourishes are always indicative of a certain amount of assertiveness.
The simpler the flourish the less artificial this self-insistence; the
more elaborate, the greater the desire to seem what one is not.


Most of the works in this list relate to that aspect of the study of
graphology which is supposed to bear upon the manifestations of
character. But there is not one which the student of handwriting can
afford to ignore, since, apart from the debatable question of character
reading, they all contain numerous hints and observations of extreme
value to the student whose objective is the acquisition of aptitude in
the more practical art of detecting forgery.

    AUTOGRAPH COLLECTING: A practical manual for Amateurs and
      Historical Students. By HENRY T. SCOTT, M.D. London: Upcott Gill.
      Price 5_s._

      of print.) May be seen in British Museum and many public

    THE AUTOGRAPHIC MIRROR: A monthly journal now defunct, but
      procurable at second hand.

    HANDWRITING AND EXPRESSION. Translated and edited by JOHN HOLT
      SCHOOLING, from the third French edition of "L'Escriture et le
      Caractere," par J. CRÉPIEUX-JAININ. Kegan, Paul and Trench.

      Price 2_s._ 6_d._


      Price 1_s._

      Pearson. Price 1_s._

    A SYSTEM OF GRAPHOLOGY. By the ABBÉ MICHON. In French; no English
      translation. A valuable work.



      Same Author.

      HANDWRITING. Same Author.

      Same Author.

    LES MYSTÉRES DE L'ÉCRITURE. Preface by Desbarrolles. Same Author.

      by the Hon. E. TWISTLETON. John Murray. 1871.

This work is the only one hitherto published in England explaining the
methods of the handwriting expert. Mons. Chabot, for many years the
leading English expert, was commissioned by Mr. Twistleton to examine
the handwriting of "Junius" with a view to deciding the authorship of
the famous letters. The result was an exhaustive volume in which the
process of handwriting analysis is illustrated by thousands of examples.
The conclusion arrived at was that the writer of the "Junius" letters
was Sir Philip Francis.

     _Literary and Historical
 Autograph Letters and Manuscripts



              ALSO ON





           LONDON, S.W.

Transcriber's Note:

    Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note, whilst
    more significant amendments have been listed below.

      Page 37, 'analine' amended to _aniline_.
      Page 53, 'Alcebiades' amended to _Alcibiades_.
      Page 56, 'correspence' amended to _correspondence_.
      Page 56, 'addresss' amended to _address_.
      Page 68, 'four documents' amended to _five documents_.
      Page 78, 'MERORINGIAN' amended to _MEROVINGIAN_.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Detection of Forgery - A Practical Handbook for the Use of Bankers, Solicitors, - Magistrates' Clerks, and All Handling Suspected Documents" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.