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Forgery By Tracing





Forgery by tracing is one of the most common and most dangerous

methods of forgery.



There are two general methods of perpetrating forgeries, one by the

aid of tracing, the other by free-hand writing. These methods differ

widely in details, according to the circumstances of each case.



Tracing can only be employed when a signature or writing is present in

the exact or approximate form of the desired reproduction. It may then

be done by placing the writing to be forged upon a transparency over a

strong light, and then superimposing the paper upon which the forgery

is to be made. The outline of the writing underneath will then appear

sufficiently plain to enable it to be traced with pen or pencil, so as

to produce a very accurate copy upon the superimposed paper. If the

outline is with a pencil, it is afterward marked over with ink.



Again, tracings are made by placing transparent tracing-paper over the

writing to be copied and then tracing the lines over with a pencil.

This tracing is then penciled or blackened upon the obverse side. When

it is placed upon the paper on which the forgery is made, the lines

upon the tracing are retraced with a stylus or other smooth hard

point, which impresses upon the paper underneath a faint outline,

which serves as a guide to the forged imitation.



In forgeries perpetrated by the aid of tracing, the internal evidence

is more or less conclusive according to the skill of the forger. In

the perpetration of a forgery the mind, instead of being occupied in

the usual function of supplying matter to be recorded, devotes its

special attention to superintendence of the hand, directing its

movements, so that the hand no longer glides naturally and

automatically over the paper, but moves slowly with a halting,

vacillating motion, as the eye passes to and from the copy to the pen,

moving under the specific control of the will. Evidence of such a

forgery is manifest in the formal, broken, nervous lines, the uneven

flow of the ink, and the often retouched lines and shades. These

evidences are unmistakable when studied with the aid of a microscope.

Also, further evidence is adduced by a careful comparison of the

disputed writing, noting the pen-pressure or absence of any of the

delicate unconscious forms, relations, shades, etc., characteristic of

the standard writing.



Forgeries by tracings usually present a close resemblance in general

form to the genuine, and are therefore most sure to deceive the

unfamiliar or casual observer. It sometimes happens that the original

writing from which the tracings were made is discovered, in which case

the closely duplicated forms will be positive evidence of forgery. The

degree to which one signature of writing duplicates another may be

readily seen by placing one over the other, and holding them to a

window or other strong light, or by close comparative measurements.



Traced forgeries, however, are not, as is usually supposed,

necessarily exact duplicates of their originals, since it is very easy

to move the paper by accident or design while the tracing is being

made, or while making the transfer copy from it; so that while it

serves as a guide to the general features of the original, it will

not, when tested, be an exact duplication. The danger of an exact

duplication is quite generally understood by persons having any

knowledge of forgery, and is therefore avoided. Another difficulty is

that the very delicate features of the original writing are more or

less obscured by the opaqueness of two sheets of paper, and are

therefore changed or omitted from the forged simulation, and their

absence is usually supplied, through force of habit, by equally

delicate unconscious characteristics from the writing of the forger.

Again, the forger rarely possesses the requisite skill to exactly

reproduce his tracing. Much of the minutiae of the original writing is

more or less microscopic, and from that reason passes unobserved by

the forger. Outlines of writing to be forged are sometimes simply

drawn with a pencil, and then worked up in ink. Such outlines will not

usually furnish so good an imitation as to form, since they depend

wholly upon the imitative skill of the forger.



Besides the forementioned evidences of forgery by tracing, where

pencil or carbon guide-lines are used which must necessarily be

removed by rubber, there are liable to remain some slight fragments of

the tracing lines, while the mill finish of the paper will be impaired

and its fiber more or less torn out, so as to lie loose upon the

surface. Also the ink will be more or less ground off from the paper,

thus giving the lines a gray and lifeless appearance. And as

retouchings are usually made after the guide-lines have been removed,

the ink, wherever they occur, will have a more black and fresh

appearance than elsewhere. All these phenomena are plainly manifest

under the microscope. Where the tracing is made directly with pen and

ink over a transparency, as is often done, no rubbing is necessary,

and of course, the phenomena from rubbering does not appear.



Where signatures or other writings have been forged by previously

making a study and practice of the writing, to be copied until it has

been to a greater or less degree idealized, the hand must be trained

to its imitation so that it can be written with a more or less

approximation as to form and natural freedom.



Forgeries and tracings made by skilful imitators are the most

difficult of detection, as the internal evidence of forgery by tracing

is mostly absent. The evidence of free-hand forgery and tracing is

chiefly in the greater liability of the forger to inject into the

writing his own unconscious habit and to fail to reproduce with

sufficient accuracy that of the original writing, so that when

subjected to rigid analysis and microscopic inspection, the

spuriousness is made manifest and demonstrable. Specific attention

should be given to any hesitancy in form or movement in tracing which

is manifest in angularity or change of direction of lines, changed

relations and proportions of letters, slant of the writing, its

mechanical arrangement, disconnected lines, retouched shades, etc.



Photographs, greatly enlarged, of both the signatures in question and

the exemplars placed side by side for comparison will greatly aid in

making plain any evidence of forgery.



If practicable, use for comparison as standards both the imitated

writing and that of the imitator's traced writing. These methods,

employed by skilled and experienced examiners, will rarely fail of

establishing the true relationship between any two disputed

handwritings and more especially where the question of a forged or

traced signature is under discussion.



Under the microscope tracing by the pen-nibs are usually easily

visible, and they differ with every variety of pen employed. A stiff,

fine-pointed pen makes two comparatively deep lines a short distance

apart, which appear blacker in the writing than the space between

them, because they fill with ink, which afterwards dries and produces

a thicker layer of black sediment than those elsewhere. The variations

of pressure upon the pen can be easily noticed by the alternate

widening and narrowing of the band between these two furrows. The

tracing appears knotty and uneven when made by an untrained hand,

while it appears uniformly thin, and generally tremulous or in zigzags

when made by a weak but trained hand.



Where the tracing is made directly with pen and ink over a

transparency, as is often done, no rubbing is necessary, and of course

the phenomena from rubbering do not appear.



Where signatures or other writings have been forged by previously

making a study and practice of the writing to be copied until it has

been to a greater or less degree idealized, the hand must be trained

to its imitation so that it can be written with a more or less

approximation as to form and with natural freedom.



Forgeries thus made by skilful imitators are the most difficult of

detection, as the internal evidence of forgery by tracing is mostly

absent. The evidence of free-hand forgery is chiefly in the greater

liability of the forger to inject into the writing his own unconscious

habit, and to fail to reproduce with sufficient accuracy that of the

original writing, so that when subjected to rigid analysis and

microscopic inspection, the spuriousness is made manifest and

demonstrable. Specific attention should be given to any hesitancy in

form or movement, manifest in angularity or change of direction of

lines, changed relations and proportions of letters, slant of the

writing, its mechanical arrangement, disconnected lines, retouched

shades, etc.



Photographs, greatly enlarged, of both the signatures in question and

the exemplars placed side by side for comparison will greatly aid in

making plain any evidences of forgery by tracing.



It sometimes occurs that the forger, fearful that his attempt to

imitate another's writing would be too easily detected if made with a

free hand, sketches in pencil the characters he intends to make in ink

on the document, or traces them by means of blackened paper at the

appropriate place. The evidences of this are very likely to appear

when the document is examined in transmitted light.



It is often asserted in trials that tracings of a genuine signature

invariably show hesitation and painting. This is not always the fact.

Tracings proven and subsequently admitted to have been such have shown

an apparent absence of all constraint, and a careful examination of

the result revealed no pause of the pen. But, on the other hand, these

freely written tracings have invariably shown either a deviation from

some habitual practice of the writer, or, if the model was followed

with skill, two or three such tracings, when photographed on a

transparent film and superposed, have shown such exact resemblances as

to proclaim their character at once.



The natural tendency of man is to introduce some elements of symbolism

in what he is attempting to trace and to seek some sort of geometrical

symmetry in what he designs. Wherever he is not restricted by certain

forms which he must introduce, and which may render a balance of parts

about a median line unattainable, he tends to evolve symmetrical

designs, as in the highest and simplest forms of ancient architecture.

When the parts of the design are prescribed, as in the representation

of objects in nature, he soon tires of mere mechanical repetition of

the same things in a given sequence, and strives to convey some

ulterior idea by the manner of joining these parts. This gives life

and language to sculpture and painting, and gives character to

handwriting. Tracing signatures is one of the most common and

dangerous methods of forgery. Some specimens of traced signatures are

illustrated and explained in an Appendix at the end of this book.





Next: HOW FORGERS REPRODUCE SIGNATURES

Previous: HOW TO STUDY FORGED AND DISPUTED SIGNATURES



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