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Guided handwriting is one of the most frequent means of forgery and

oftentimes the most difficult to detect. It has been established that

with care the elements of each handwriting can be detected and proven

in a guided signature. The leading handwriting experts of the world

are unanimous in declaring that it is possible for holding another's

hand in making a guided signature to infuse the character of the

uider's hand into the writing.

Guided handwriting is the writing produced by two hands conjointly and

is usually erratic, and at first sight, hard to connect with the

handwriting of any one person.

The character and quality of writing in case of a controlled or

assisted hand must depend largely upon the relative force, exercised

by the joint hands. The difficulty in writing arises from the

antagonizing motion of one hand upon the other, which is likely to

produce an unintelligible scrawl, having little or none of the

habitual characteristics of either hand.

Where one hand is more or less passive, the controlling hand doing the

writing, its characteristics may be more or less manifest in the

writing. But obviously the controlling hand must be seriously

obstructed in its motions by even a passive hand; and since the

controlling hand can have no proper or customary rest, the motion must

be from the shoulder and with the whole arm. The writing will

therefore be upon an enlarged scale, loose, sprawling, and can have

little, if any, characteristic resemblance to the natural and habitual

style of the controlling writer, and of course none of the person's

whose hand is passive.

In appearance it changes abruptly from very high or very wide to very

low or narrow letters. This is to be explained by the non-agreement in

phase of the impulses due to each of the two writers. If both are

endeavoring at the same moment to write a given stroke the length of

that stroke will be measured by the sum of the impulses given by the

two writers. If they act in opposition to one another, one seeking to

make a down stroke while the other is trying to make an up stroke, the

result will be a line equal to the difference between the stronger and

the weaker force.

As these coincidences and oppositions occur at irregular but not

infrequent intervals, like the interference and amplification phases

of light and sound waves, the result traced on the paper might be

expected in advance to be--and in fact is--a distorted writing where

maxima and minima of effect are connected together by longer or

shorter lines of ordinary writing.

The only state of things which can justify the guiding of a hand

executing a legal instrument is the feebleness or illness of its


When such assistance is required it is usually given by passing the

arm around the body of the invalid and supporting the writing hand

while the necessary characters are being made.

Both participants in this action are looking at the writing, and both

are thinking of the next letter which must be written, and of the

motion of the pen necessary to produce it. Unless the executing hand

were absolutely lifeless or entirely devoid of power, it would be

impossible for it not to influence the guiding and presumably stronger

hand; for the least force exerted cannot fail to deflect a hand,

however strong, in an unnatural and cramped position. Nor can the hand

of the guider fail to add its contribution to the joint effort,

however much the brain which controls it may strive to render the hand

entirely passive. Both minds are busy with the same act, and

insensibly both hands will write the same letter with the results just


Can the characteristics of each hand be separated from those of the

other and the relative amount of the two contributions to the joint

signature be stated?

This is a question which is naturally asked during the trial of a case

involving the consideration of a guided hand. From the comparatively

small number of experiments made in this direction it would be too

hazardous to answer it in the affirmative, but it may be said that

some of the characteristics of each hand can usually be made apparent

by the system of measurement, and the indications seem to point to the

probability of being able to increase the number of characteristics

elicited in proportion to the number of observations made. If the

significance of every part of every stroke could be properly

interpreted, it follows that a complete separation of characteristics

would be effected, but this would require an indefinitely large number

of observations to be made and a quite unattainable skill in

explaining them.

See specimens of guided signatures in Appendix.