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Proof of authenticity was finally achieved May 3, 1997 when a full examination was made by notable forensic document examiner Kurt Schwalbe. He concluded that at the time the document and the handwriting were 40-60 years old.
Kurt Schwalbe is one of the leading professionals in document forensics in the United States and is responsible for developing many of the techniques now in widely use in this field. Click on the link below to view the five page report which is followed by documentation of Mr. Schwalbe's experience.

What is a Forensic Document Examiner?

The duties of a Forensic Document Examiner is to answer questions about a disputed document using various scientific processes and methods. Many examinations require a comparison of the questioned document, or components of the document, to a set of verified standards. The most common examination is in the area of handwriting comparison where the examiner validates the authenticity the authorship of the document in question. The examiner will then present their opinion in court as an expert witness.

Other related examinations may include determining what has happened to a document, determining when a document was produced, or deciphering information on the document that has been obscured, obliterated or erased.

A Forensic Document Examiner will handle many types of documents that may be part of a civil or criminal case whether for a court case or for other reasons of authentication. There are several types of document examinations as shown below:

  • Handwriting (cursive / printing) and Signatures comparison.
  • Mechanical or electronic origination (typewriters, photocopiers, laser printers, fax machines).
  • Printing processes.
  • Material usage (ink, pencil, paper).
  • Alterations, additions, erasures, deletions.
  • Physical matching.

Documents examined

Documents which are use in/for business and personal affairs. A document may become disputed in an investigation or litigation. A questioned document may bear handwriting or mechanically-produced text such as a ransom note, a forged check or a contract. Forensic Document Examiners define the word "document" in a very broad sense as being any material bearing marks, signs or symbols intended to convey a message or meaning to someone. This not only includes traditional paper documents but also images such as graffiti, stamps and seals, or covert markings hidden in the text of a letter.

Forensic Document Examiners may not limit their work to the examination and comparison of handwriting, but most also inspect the whole document to determine its traits or properties.

Education and training

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A document examiner will receive formal training in the way of related sciences that will aid in determining the results of document testing. Training is usually in the form of education and then follow-on with experience gained through tutelage with a seasoned professional. Not only in method, but also in the usage of specialized chemistry and equipment. Literally an excellent eye for detail is necessary in order to see fine detail and minor nuances. A candidate must also pass a form blindness test to ensure that they able to tell apart two similarly-appearing, yet different, items. Also, a test for color perception is normal required. A bachelor of science degree gives the candidate a scientific background with which to approach the work in an objective manner, as well as receiving necessary biological, physical, and chemical knowledge sometimes engaged. ASTM Standard E2388-05 (Standard Guide for Minimum Training Requirements for Forensic Document Examiners) certification certifies a necessary level of expertise. Other desirable skills would include knowledge of paper, ink, printing processes, and/or handwriting.

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