on Dienstag, 03 April 2018. Posted in General Autograph News, Autograph forgeries

by Garry King

If you have read part one you will now have a basic understanding of how an Autopen machine creates a signature, and if you have studied the John Lennon signature  previously shown you should now be able to see that its not exactly as it should be, in other words it does not look as though its been done by a human hand.
When we write our name the fingers of the hand will move the pen not just up and down the paper, but they will also vary the angle and pressure of the pen onto the paper. Each of us also holds the pen in a different way, so two people using the same pen to write the same word will create something that may have a differnet line width etc, even though they both use the same pen. This is how we can often tell that only one person has signed all the names on a fully signed football shirt!

The John Lennon example shown has a very similar line width and pen pressure all the way through the signature, suggesting that it was not John Lennon that created it. If however you only compare the signature style with that of a genuine example from the same period they will look so similar that you will think the machine made one is genuine. Now imagine that the machine made one was under glass and the image just slightly out of focus, and you will see why some experts have passed this signature as authentic!

To understand how it is produced you first need to read the important paragraphs on this wikipedia page.......

After reading the above you will see that these "plotters" are now no longer used for their original use by draughtsmen etc, but are very easily and cheaply available, and by using modern day software and some computer skills they are easily adapted to use almost any pen to create any signature you want on almost any item, and that may include books or boxing gloves for instance.

You need to keep in mind that there are now a number of people who are using these machines to create their fake signatures, so the quality of each signature can vary widely. Another thing to remember is that some of these people have little knowledge of autograph or pen history, so i have for instance seen a Queen Victoria signature in fine tip felt pen (not invented until the mid 60's or so) and signatures on paper that was simply not produced at the time of the signature.

Here are some video examples of home made machines that can easily create a signature. The first one is a very simple device but you can easily see how it works and it will help to show how the signature is produced.

Here is a machine that is available off the shelf to do the job!

And here is a machine that is designed specificly to produce signatures and letters by the hundred!

And finaly a machine producing a nice neat signature in reasonable close up. You should view this one as full screen and if you look very closely you will see that that machine only produces the line by using very small movements, so the signature is atcully made up of thousands of very small movements.

Now you should be able to see the main differences between the real and the machine made signature, but beware! these forgers are always trying to keep one step ahead of us otherwise we will easily spot their fakes! So you should now be able to see how the signature is made up of as series of small movements, and that their is no variation in speed or pressure throughout the signature. 

In part three we will consider how the forger might improve on these basic signatures, what to look for and how to spot their mistakes.

Copyright Garry King 2018