However expert a witness may be, however successful in discriminations of this kind, self-respect and a becoming modesty should induce him to refuse to answer them without distinctly stating that his answer, which gives his best judgment at the time, must be subject to reversal if by longer and more thorough investigation it appear that the opposite view were the true one.
When there is presented before a court of law a document, of which it is important to know whether a part or the whole of the body, or the signature, or all, is actually in the handwriting of some person whose writing or signature in other exhibits is admitted to be genuine, the counsel on each side usually seeks the aid of one or more handwriting experts.
Usually a teacher of writing is called, but more often the cashier or paying teller of a bank is preferred. There seems to be a good reason for choosing a bank cashier or a paying teller, for the man upon whose immediate judgment as to genuineness of signatures, reinforced by a large and varied knowledge of human nature and quick observation of any suspicious circumstances depends the safety of a bank, has certainly gained much experience and is not apt to be easily deceived in the kind of cases coming daily before him. How much the average cashier and paying-teller depends upon the trifling circumstances attending the presentation of a check, the appearance of the person presenting it, the probability of the drawer inserting such a sum, etc., becomes apparent when one has heard a number of these useful officers testify in cases where they are deprived of all these surroundings, and required to decide whether a certain writing is by the same hand which produced another writing, both being unfamiliar to them.
In this case they are obliged to create a familiarity with the signatures of a man whose character and peculiarities they have never known.
They miss the aid of some feature, such as a dash, a blot, or the distortion of a letter, which would recall to them the character of the writer. Most of the best experts of this class confess that they cannot tell on what their judgment is based. They simply think that the writing is not by the same hand as that admitted to be genuine. "No," they will tell you, "it is not merely superficial resemblance. I don't know what it is, but I feel sure," etc. These witnesses are more frequently right than the more pretentious professional expert. The former trust to the instantaneous impressions which they receive when papers are handed to them; the latter too often give their attention to the merely superficial features of chirography without getting beyond the more obvious resemblances and differences which are frequently the least important.
While the expert in handwriting should confine himself to the concrete examinations of the paper, ink, seals, etc., and leave to the counsel the task of reasoning on the purport of the words added, and all other matters not allied to the materials left as the result of the forgery, yet it would be unreasonable to neglect altogether these means of corroborating a previously formed suspicion, or directing a course of inquiry.
That expert would be more or less than human who could shut his eyes to the importance of the fact that certain words containing evidence in the manner of their formation or their position that raised doubts as to their genuineness by their import gave to the person who might have written them benefits which he would not have derived in their absence.
The parts of a writing which demand the closest attention are those which have been made unconsciously and which are not easily noted by a superficial view. The height, the spread of the letters, the peculiarities of the endings, the nourishes, and the general shape are things which the forger observes and imitates, often with success; but the curvature of a letter in its different parts is not easily appreciated by the naked eye.
There are but few laws in the United States regarding the functions of handwriting experts. Courts in various states have followed decisions made by higher courts where matters affecting expert testimony have been carried to the court of last resort. A code of uniform laws on this question is being agitated and will soon be called to the attention of all state legislatures. England has adopted a simple and concise law on admissibility of testimony of handwriting experts.
In the absence of such laws a few extracts from Stephens' Law of Evidence, an English work, will be found interesting and instructive:
Article XLIX: "When there is a question as to any point of science or art, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in any such matter are deemed to be relevant facts.
"Such persons are hereinafter called experts.
"The words 'science or art' include all subjects on which a course of special study or experience is necessary to the formation of an opinion, and amongst others the examination of disputed handwriting.
"Illustration: The question is, whether a certain document was written by A. Another document is produced which is proved or admitted to have been written by A.
"The opinions of experts on the question whether the two documents were written by the same person, or by different persons, are deemed to be relevant."
Article LI: "When there is a question as to the person by whom any document was written or signed, the opinion of any person acquainted with the handwriting of the supposed writer that it was or was not written or signed by him, is deemed to be a relevant fact.
"A person is deemed to be acquainted with the handwriting of another person when he has at any time seen that person write, or when he has received documents purporting to be written by that person in answer to documents written by himself or under his authority, and addressed to that person, or when in the ordinary course of business, documents purporting to be written by that person have been habitually submitted to him.
"Illustration: The question is, whether a given letter is in the handwriting of A, a merchant in Calcutta.
"B is a merchant in London, who has written letters addressed to A, and received in answer letters purporting to be written by him. C is B's clerk, whose duty it was to examine and file B's correspondence. D is B's broker, to whom B habitually submitted the letters purporting to be written by A for the purpose of advising with him thereon.
"The opinions of B, C, and D on the question whether the letter is in the handwriting of A are relevant, though neither B, C, or D ever saw A write.
"The opinion of E, who saw A write once twenty years ago, is also relevant."
Article LI I: "Comparisons of a disputed handwriting with any writing proved to the satisfaction of the judge to be genuine is permitted to be made by witnesses, and such writings, and the evidence of witnesses respecting the same, may be submitted to the court and jury as evidence of the genuineness or otherwise of the writing in dispute. This paragraph applies to all courts of judicature, criminal or civil, and to all persons having by law, or by consent of parties, authority to hear, receive, and examine evidence."
TAMPERED, ERASED, AND MANIPULATED PAPER
Sure Rules for the Detection of Forged and Fraudulent Writing of Any Kind—A European Professor Gives Rules for Detecting Fraud—How to Tell Alterations Made on Checks, Drafts, and Business Paper—An Infallible System Discovered—Results Always Satisfactory—Can Be Used by Anyone—Vapor of Iodine a Valuable Agent—Paper That Has Been Wet or Moistened—Colors That Tampered Paper Assumes—Tracing Written Characters with Water—Making Writing Legible—How to Tell Paper That Has Been Erased or Rubbed—What a Light Will Disclose—Erasing with Bread Crumbs—Hard to Detect—How to Discover Traces of Manipulation—Erased Surface Made Legible—Treating Partially Erased Paper—Detecting Nature of Substance Used for Erasing—Use of Bread Crumbs Colors Paper—Tracing Writing with a Glass Rod—Tracing Writing Under Paper—Writing With Glass Tubes Instead of Pens—What Physical Examination Reveals—Erasing Substance of Paper—Reproducing Pencil Writing in a Letter Press—Kind of Paper to Use in Making Experiments—Detecting Fraud in Old Papers—The Rubbing and Writing Method.
Prof. G. Brynlants of the Belgian Academy of Sciences, who has made the detecting of forgery and disputed handwriting a study for twenty years, recently made public an account of the researches he had made and deductions arrived at with a view of making known how frauds and alterations are made on checks, drafts, and business paper generally and how same can easily be detected. The system he recommends is now in use in nearly every bank in Europe and the result of his work and his recommendations should be carefully read and the system applied by the banks and business houses of the United States, when occasion requires.
The following article has been specially prepared for this work; and if its recommendations are carefully carried out it will prove a sure rule for the detection of forged and fraudulent handwriting:
"Although my experiments were not always carried on under the most favorable circumstances, their results were eminently satisfactory and will prove a boon to the banking and business world. A piece of paper was handed to me for the purpose of determining if part of it had been wet and if another part of it had been manipulated for the purpose of erasing marks upon it; in other words, whether this part had been rubbed. The sample I had to work upon had already gone through several experiments. I had remarked that the tint of the paper exposed to the vapor of iodine differs from that which this same paper assumes when it has been wet first and dried afterwards. In addition to this I realized that when sized and calendered paper, first partially wet and then dried, is subjected to the action of iodine vapor, the parts which have been wet take on a violet tint, while those which had not been moistened became either discolored or brown. The intensity of the coloration naturally varied according to the length of time for which the paper was exposed to the iodine.
"There is a very striking difference also when the water is sprinkled on the paper and the drops are left to dry off by themselves in order not to alter the surface of the paper.
"Thorough wetting of the paper will cause the sprinkled spots to turn a heavy violet-blue color when exposed to vapor while the parts which are untouched by the water will become blue.
"If, after sprinkling upon a piece of paper and evaporating the drops thereon, this piece of paper is thoroughly wet, then dried and subjected to the action of iodine, the traces of the first drops will remain distinguishable whether the paper is dry or not. In the latter case the trace of the first sprinkling will hardly be distinguishable so long as the moisture is not entirely got rid of; but as soon as complete dryness is effected their outlines, although very faint, will show plainly on the darker ground surrounding the spot covered by the first drop.
"In this reaction, water plays virtually the part of a sympathetic fluid, and tracing the characters with water on sized and calendered paper, the writing will show perfectly plain when the paper is dried and exposed to action of iodine vapor. The brownish violet shade on a yellowish ground will evolve to a dark blue on a light blue ground after wetting. These characters disappear immediately under the action of sulphurous acid, but will reappear after the first discoloration provided the paper has not been wet and the discoloration has been effected by the use of sulphurous acid gas.
"The process, therefore, affords means for tracing characters which become legible and can be caused to disappear, but at will to reappear again, or which can be used for one time only and be canceled forever afterwards.
"The usual method of verifying whether paper has been rubbed is to examine it as to its transparency. If the erasure has been so great as to remove a considerable portion of the paper, the erased surface is of greater translucency; but if the erasure has been effected with great care, examining same close to a light will disclose it; the erased part being duller than the surrounding surface because of the partial upheaval of the fibers.
"If an erasure is effected by means of bread crumbs instead of India rubber, and care is taken to erase in one direction the change escapes notice; and it is generally impossible to detect it, should the paper thus handled be written upon again.
"Iodine vapors, however, show all traces of these manipulations very plainly giving their location with perfect certainty. The erased surfaces assume a yellow brown or brownish tint. If, after being subjected to the action of the iodine, the paper on which an erasure has been made is wet, it becomes of a blue color the intensity of which is commensurate with the length of time to which it has been under the action of the iodine, and when the paper is again dried the erased portions are more or less darker than the remainder of the sheet. On the other hand when the erasure has been so rough as to take off an important part of the material exposure to iodine, wetting, and drying result in less intensity to coloration on the parts erased, because the erasing in its mechanical action of carrying off parts of the paper removes also parts of the substance which in combination with iodine give birth to the blue tint. Consequently the action of the iodine differs according to the extent of the erasure.
"When paper is partially erased and wet, as when letters are copied, the same result although not so striking follows upon exposing it to the iodine vapor after letting it dry thoroughly.
"Iodine affords in certain cases the means of detecting the nature of the substance used for erasing. Bread crumbs or India rubber turn yellow or brownish yellow tints and these are distinguished by more intense coloration; erasure by means of bread crumbs causing the paper to take a violet shade of great uniformity. These peculiarities are due to the upheaval of the fibers caused by rubbing. In fact this upheaval creates a larger absorbing surface and consequently a larger proportion of iodine can cover the rubbed parts than it would if there had been no friction.
"When paper upon which writing has been traced with a glass rod, the tip of which is perfectly round and smooth, is exposed to iodine vapor, the characters appear brown on yellow ground which wetting turns to blue. This change also occurs when the paper written upon has been run through a super-calender. If the paper is not wet the characters can be made to appear or be blotted by the successive action of sulphurous and iodine vapor.
"Writing done by means of glass tips instead of pens will show very little, especially when traced between the lines written in ink. The reaction, however, is of such sensitiveness that where characters have been traced on a piece of paper under others they appear very plainly, although physical examination would fail to reveal their existence, but a somewhat lengthy exposure to iodine vapors will suffice to show them.
"If the wrong side of the paper is exposed to the iodine vapor the characters are visible; but of course in their inverted position.
"If the erasure has been so great as to take off a part of the substance of the paper the reconstruction of the writing, so as to make it legible, may be regarded as impossible. But in this case subjecting the reverse side of the paper to the influence of the iodine will bring out the reverse outlines of the blotted-out characters so plainly that they can be read, especially if the paper is placed before a mirror. In some instances, when pencil writing has been strong enough, its traces can be reproduced in a letter press by wetting a sheet of sized and calendered paper in the usual way that press copies are taken, placing it on paper saturated with iodine and putting the two sheets in a letter book under the press, copies being run off as is usual in copying letters. The operation, however, must be very rapidly carried out to be successful. As a matter of fact the certainty of these reactions depends entirely upon the class of paper used. Paper slightly sized or poorly calendered will not show them.
"Another point consists in knowing how long paper will contain these reactive properties. In my own experience the fact has been demonstrated that irregular wetting and rubbing three months old can be plainly shown after this lapse of time. Characters traced with glass rod tips could be made conspicuous. I have noticed that immersing the written paper in a water bath for three to six hours will secure better reactions, but although these reactions are very characteristic they are considerably weaker."
FORGERY AS A PROFESSION
How Professional Forgers Work—Valuable Points for Bankers and Business Men—Personnel of a Professional Forgery Gang—The Scratcher, Layer-down, Presenter and Middleman—How Banks Are Defrauded by Raised and Forged Paper—Detailed Method of the Work—Dividing the Spoils—Action in Case of Arrest—Employing Attorneys—What "Fall" Money Is—Fixing a Jury—Politicians with a Pull—Protecting Criminals—Full Description of How Checks and Drafts Are Altered—Alterations, Erasures and Chemicals—Raising Any Paper—Alert Cashiers and Tellers—Different Methods of Protection.
[This Chapter was written for this work by the manager of one of the largest detective agencies in the United States. They make a specialty of bank work and from the number of forgers apprehended and convicted know just how the work is done. A careful reading of this chapter will put bankers and the public on their guard against the most pestiferous rascals they have to deal with.]
Professional forgers usually make their homes in large cities. They are constantly studying schemes and organizing gangs of men to defraud banks, trust companies and money lenders by means of forged checks, notes, drafts, bills of exchange, letters of credit, and in some instances altering registered government and other bonds, and counterfeitering the bonds of corporations. These bonds they dispose of or hypothecate to obtain loans on.
A professional forgery gang consists of: First, a capitalist or backer; second, the actual forger, who is known among his associates as the "scratcher"; third, the man who acts as confidential agent for the forger, who is known as the "middleman" or the "go-between"; fourth, the man who presents the forged paper at the bank for payment, who is known as the "layer-down" or "presenter."
The duties of the "middleman" or "go-between" are to receive from the forger or his confidential agent the altered or forged paper. He finds the man to "present" the same, accompanies his confederates on their forgery trips throughout the country, acts as the agent of the backer in dealing out money for expenses, sees that their plan of operations is carried out, and, in fact, becomes the general manager of the band. He is in full control of the men who act as "presenters" of the forged paper. If there be more than one man to "present" the paper, the middleman, as a rule, will not allow them to become known to each other. He meets them in secluded places, generally in little out-of-the-way saloons. In summer time a favorite meeting place is some secluded spot in the public parks. At one meeting he makes an appointment for the next meeting. He uses great care in making these appointments, so that the different "presenters" do not come together and thereby become known to each other. The middleman is usually selected for his firmness of character. He must be a man known among criminals as a "staunch" man, one who cannot be easily frightened by detectives when arrested, no matter what pressure may be brought to bear upon him. He must have such an acquaintanceship among criminals as will enable him to select other men who are "staunch" and who are not apt to talk and tell their business, whether sober or under the influence of liquor. It is from among this class of acquaintances that he selects the men to "present" the forged paper. It is an invariable rule followed by the backer and the forger that in selecting a middleman they select one who not only has the reputation of being a "staunch" man, but he must also be a man who has at least one record of conviction standing against him. This is for the additional protection of the backer and forger, as they know that in law the testimony of an accomplice who is also an ex-convict, should he conclude to become a state's witness, would have to be strongly corroborated before a court or jury in order to be believed.
As the capitalist and forger, for self-protection, use great care in selecting a "middleman," the middleman to protect himself also uses the same care in the selection of men to "present" the forged paper. He endeavors, like the backer and forger, to throw as much protection around himself as possible, and for the same reasons he also uses ex-convicts as the men to "present" the forged paper at the banks. The "presenters" are of all ages and appearances, from the party who will pass as an errand boy, messenger, porter, or clerk, to the prosperous business man, horse trader, stock buyer, or farmer. When a presenter enters a bank to "lay down" a forged paper, the "go-between" will sometimes enter the bank with him and stand outside the counter, noting carefully if there is any suspicious action on the part of the paying teller when the forged paper is presented to him, and whether the "presenter" carries himself properly and does his part well. But usually the middleman prefers waiting outside the bank for the "presenter," possibly watching him through a window from the street. If the "presenter" is successful and gets the money on the forged paper, the middleman will follow him when he leaves the bank to some convenient spot where, without attracting attention, he receives the money. He then gives the presenter another piece of forged paper, drawn on some neighboring bank. They go from bank to bank, usually victimizing from three to five banks in each city, their work being completed generally in less than an hour's time. All money obtained from the various banks on the forged paper is immediately turned over to the middleman, who furnishes all the money for current expenses. After the work is completed the presenters leave the city by different routes, first having agreed on a meeting point in some neighboring city. The "presenters" frequently walk out of the city to some outlying station on the line of the road they propose to take to their next destination. This precaution is taken to avoid arrest at the depot in case the forgery is discovered before they can leave the city. At the next meeting-point the middleman, having deducted the expenses advanced, pays the "presenters" their percentage of the money obtained on the forged paper.
A band of professional forgers before starting out always agree on a basis of division of all moneys obtained on their forged paper. This division might be about as follows: For a presenter where the amount to be drawn does not exceed $2,000, 15 to 25 per cent; but where the amount to be drawn is from $3,000 to $5,000 and upwards, the "presenter" receives from 35 to 45 per cent. The price is raised as the risk increases, and it is generally considered a greater risk to attempt to pass a check or draft of a large denomination than a smaller one. The middleman gets from 15 to 25 per cent. His work is more, and his responsibility is greater, but the risk is less. There are plenty of middlemen to be had, but the "presenters" are scarce. The "shadow," when one accompanies the band, is sometimes paid a salary by the middleman and his expenses, but at other times, he is allowed a small percentage, not to exceed 5 per cent, and his expenses, as with ordinary care his risk is very slight. The backer and forger get the balance, which usually amounts to from 50 to 60 per cent. The expenses that have been advanced the men who go out on the road are usually deducted at the final division.
In case of the arrest of one of the "presenters" in the act of "laying down" forged paper, the middleman or shadow immediately notifies other members of the band who may be in the city. All attempts to get money from the other banks are stopped, and the other members of the band leave the city as best they can to meet at some designated point in a near-by city. Out of their first successful forgeries a certain sum from each man's share is held by the "middleman" to be used in the defense of any member of the band who may be arrested on the trip. This money is called "fall money," and is used to employ counsel for the men under arrest, or to do anything for them that may be for their interest. Any part of this money not used is paid back in proportion to the amount advanced to the various members of the band from whose share it has been retained. Sometimes, however, in forming a band of forgers there is an understanding or agreement entered into at the outset that each man "stand on his own bottom"—that is, if arrested, take care of himself. When this is agreed to, the men arrested must get out as best they can. Under these circumstances there is no assessment for "fall money," but usually the men who present the paper insist on "fall money" being put up, as it assures them the aid of some one of the band working earnestly in their behalf and watching their interests, outside of the attorney retained.
When one of the party is arrested, an attorney is at once sent to him. As a rule, in selecting an attorney, one is employed who is known as a good criminal lawyer. It is also preferred that he should be a lawyer who has some political weight. The middleman employs the attorney, and pays him out of the "fall money." The arrested man is strictly instructed by the attorney to do no talking, and is usually encouraged by the promise that they will have him out in a short time. In order to keep him quiet, this promise is frequently renewed by the attorney acting for the "middleman." This is done to prevent a confession being made in case the arrested man should show signs of weakening. Finally, when he is forced to stand trial, if the case is one certain of conviction, the attorney will get him to plead guilty, with the promise of a short sentence, and will then bargain to this end with the court or prosecutor. Thus guided by the attorney selected and acting for the "middleman" and his associates, the prisoner pleads guilty, and frequently discovers, when it is too late, that he has been tricked into keeping his mouth shut in the interests of his associates. It is but fair to state, however, that if money can save an arrested party, and if his associates have it, they will use it freely among attorneys or "jury fixers," where the latter can be made use of, and frequently it is paid to politicians who make a pretense of having a "pull" with the prosecuting officers of the court.
In most instances when checks are sent out they are not seen again by the maker for a period of days. As business houses of any considerable magnitude always have a comfortable balance with their bankers, ample time and an abundance of cash are thus placed at the disposal of the check-raisers.
As to the best methods of raising checks so that the fraud will not be readily detected, much depends upon the way in which they are written. The style of handwriting, the texture and quality of the paper, and the chemical properties of the inks, are points which are necessary to be considered.
Many checks may be altered to a larger amount by the mere addition of a stroke of the pen here or the erasure of a line, by means of chemicals, in some other place. For instance, take a check of $100, no matter how it may be written, there are five or six different ways in which it may be altered to a much larger amount, and in such a manner as to defy the scrutiny of the most careful bank teller. It may be made into six hundred by merely adding the "S" loop to the "O," dotting the first part of the "n" to make of it an "i," and crossing the connecting stroke between the "n" and the "e" to form the "x." To complete the change it will be found necessary to erase with chemicals part of the "e."
A check for one hundred dollars may also be easily altered to eight hundred dollars, especially when sufficient space has been left between the "one" and the "hundred," as follows: Add to the "O" the top part of an "E," dot part of the "n" to form an "i," connect the remaining part of the "n" with the "e," forming the loop of a "g," and then add "ht." The figure "i" is very easily changed to "8."
Sometimes a small capital is used for an "o." In this case an alteration into "Four" hundred is easily accomplished by simply prefixing a capital "F" and transforming the "e" into an "r," the "n" being made to serve as a "u."
Another change frequently made is to "Ten" hundred. It is done simply by adding the stem and top part of the "T" to the "O" and changing the first part of the "u" to an "e."
Of course, any of the foregoing changes may be made with equal facility whether the amount be "hundred" or "thousand."
Two hundred, if anything, is a much easier amount to alter than one hundred. It is done in the following manner: Make an "F" by simply crossing the "T;" dot the first part of the "w" to make an "i." and change the "o" into an "e." The figure "2" can be made into a perfect "5" by simply adding the top part of the "5" to it.
Three hundred is not so easily altered; still it may be done by changing the word "hundred" into a "thousand"—an alteration which is by no means rare, and which is quite simple, especially when the word is begun with a small "h." The modus operandi is as follows: Place a capital "T" before the "h"; change the first part of the "u" into an "o," connecting it with the second part, which, with the first part of the "u," will form a "u"; change the second part of the "u" to an "s"; erase the top part of the "d," making of it an "a," and complete the alteration by making an "n" of the "r" and "e." This alteration may appear to be somewhat complicated, but a trial of it according to direction will show how nicely it may be done.
"Four" is another easy amount to alter. It is done by extending the second part of the "u" into a "t," and adding the "y" loop to the "r." "Five" is changed into "Fifty" and "Fifteen." "Six," "Seven," "Eight," and "Nine" are changed into "Sixty," "Seventy," "Eighty," and "Ninety" by simply affixing the syllable "ty." "Twenty" is another easily changed amount; all that is necessary to make "Seventy" of it is to make an "S" of the "T," and change the first part of the "w" into an "e." To make the alteration perfect, the top part of the "T" must be erased with chemicals.
In regard to the chemicals used to erase ink, much depends upon the ink. For most writing fluids and copying inks which are in daily use, a saturated solution of chloride of lime is the best eraser known, and when properly made is very quick and effective in its work. It may be applied with a glass pointed pen, to avoid corrosion, or with a clean bit of sponge. It acts as a powerful bleach, and with it the face of a check may be washed as white as before it was written upon. When inks have become dry and hard, sometimes carbolic or acetic acid is used effectively with the chlorine. The application of any alkali or acid to the clean polished surface of a check will, of course, destroy the finish and leave a perceptible stain, but the work of covering up these traces is quite as simple as removing the ink in the first place.
A favorite trick of forgers and check and draft raisers, who operate on an extensive scale, is for one of them to open an office in a city and represent himself as a cattle dealer, lumber merchant, or one looking about for favorable real-estate investments. His first move is to open a bank account, and then work to get on friendly terms with the cashier. He always keeps a good balance—sometimes way up in the thousands—and deports himself in such a manner as to lead to the belief that he is a highly honorable gentleman, and the bank officials are led to the belief that he will eventually become a very profitable customer.
Occasionally he has a note, for a small amount to begin with, always first-class two-name paper, and he never objects—usually insists—on paying a trifle more than the regular discount. At first the bank officials closely examine the paper offered, and of course find that the endorsers are men of high standing, and then their confidence in the "cattle king" is unbounded. Gradually the notes increase in amount, from a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars, and from fifteen hundred to two or three thousand. The notes are promptly paid at maturity. After the confidence of the bank people has been completely gained, the swindler makes a strike for his greatest effort. He comes in the bank in a hurry, presents a sixty-day note, endorsed by first-class men, for a larger amount than he has ever before requested, and it generally happens that he gets the money without the slightest difficulty. Then he has a sudden call to attend to important business elsewhere. When the note or notes mature, it is discovered to be a very clever forgery. This has been done time and again, and it is rare that the forger has been apprehended.
The latest mode is for the forger to imitate a private check by the photo-lithographic method, after having obtained a signed check. The signature, after being photographed, is carefully traced over with ink, and the body of the check is filled up for whatever amount is desired. The maker of the check is requested to identify the person who holds it, and as a general thing he does not wait to see the money paid. The moment his back is turned, the layer-down palms the small check and presents the large one. This way of obtaining money is without the assistance of a middleman.
Private marks on checks are no safeguards at all, although a great many merchants believe they can prevent forgery by making certain dots, or seeming slips of the pen, which are known only to the paying-teller and themselves. This precaution becomes useless when the forger uses the camera. Safe-breakers are often called upon by forgers and asked to secure a sheet of checks out of a check-book. When this is accomplished a few canceled checks are taken at the same time. These are given to the forger and he fills them up for large amounts, after tracing or copying the signature. The safe burglars receive a percentage on the amount realized. If your safe, vault or desk is broken open where your check-book is kept, carefully count the leaves in your check-book, also your canceled checks. If any are missing notify the banks and begin using a different style of check immediately. The sneak-thief, while plying his trade, often secures unsigned bonds of some corporation which has put the signed bonds in circulation, leaving the rest unsigned until the next meeting of the directors.
Frequently unsigned bonds are left in the bank vault for safe keeping. These are stolen and sent to the penman or "scratcher." Then a genuine signed bond is purchased, from which the signatures are copied and then forged. The same trick has been played on unsigned bank notes, but on the bank notes almost any name will do, as no person looks at the signature, as long as the note appears genuine.
The ingenuity of a countless army of sharpers is constantly at work in this country, devising plans to obtain funds dishonestly, without work, but, in fact, they often expend more time, skill and labor in carrying out their nefarious schemes, than would serve to earn the sum they finally secure, by honest labor. Every banker must, therefore, be on his guard, and should acquaint himself with the most approved means of detecting and avoiding the most common swindlers. This is just as necessary as it is to lock his books and cash in his safe before going home.
Next to the counterfeiter, the forger is the most dangerous criminal in business life. Transactions involving the largest sums of money are completed on the faith in the genuineness of a signature. Hence every effort should be made to acquire the art of detecting an imitation at a glance. This can only be done by considerable practice. It is asserted that every signature has character about it which can not be perfectly copied, and which can always be detected by an experienced eye. This is problematical, but certainly a skillful bank-teller can hardly be deceived by the forgery of a name of a well-known depositor.
A banker and business man should accustom himself to scrutinize closely the signatures of those with whom he deals. He should cut off their names from the backs of checks and notes, and paste then in alphabetical order in an autograph book devoted to that purpose, and compare any suspicious signature with the genuine one.
In consequence of the numerous frauds committed by forged checks, some of the European bankers have adopted the custom of sending with their letter of advice a photograph of the person in whose favor the credit has been issued, and to stop the payment when the person who presents himself at the bank does not resemble the picture. If this practice were to become universal, the object of preventing frauds could be well attained.
It is probably a fair statement to make that any draft issued can be raised, but it is unquestionably true that some can be much more easily altered than others, and as in the last ten years additional safeguards have been thrown around the bills of exchange of banks, so the forger has become more and more expert and proficient, just about keeping the pace. As the question of armor that can not be pierced and projectiles that will pierce anything are first one and then the other a little ahead, so it is with the bank forger and the banks.
Admirable as some of the work unquestionably is, if anything so disreputable can be called admirable, there is even yet a something about either the work or the operator that should arouse the suspicions of the teller or cashier who is on the alert; and a teller or cashier without suspicion, and who is not on the alert, may be a comparatively good man, but is certainly in the wrong place.
The presenter of a counterfeit bill at the teller's window may have no knowledge of the character of the bill that he is presenting, but he who presents a forged draft, in addition to presenting a bad bill, has a consciousness himself of the fraud that he is attempting, thus giving the teller not only the chance of scrutinizing the bill, but also to judge of the appearance, whether nervous or otherwise, of the man who is laying the trap, and these two facts should inure greatly to the advantage of the teller.
As the news of the many successful depredations is scattered, we see banks trying different methods of protection, many of which at first glance are admirable, but which it will be seen on a little careful study simply require but slight change of method on the part of the professional forger to successfully evade. For instance: Many banks are daily advising their correspondents of the number and amounts of drafts issued, either in the course of the mails or otherwise. This at first sight would seem to be almost absolute protection, but it really may prove a trap to the bank so advised, as may readily be seen. Let us suppose that Mr. Forger steps into a bank in Cleveland, buys a draft for $5; a day or two later, or on the same day, he buys another draft for $5,000. The first draft is successfully altered to $5,000, but would not of course be paid by the correspondent bank for this amount, because of the advice they have of this number is that it was issued for $5; but it was a simpler matter to change the number of the draft to correspond with the $5,000 draft, the number of which the forger has, than it is to make the other alterations necessary to raise it from $5 to $5,000. After making these alterations it goes in for payment, and on reference to the advice sheet it is found that this apparent number was issued for $5,000 and paid accordingly. Then the forgers have simply the problem on hand to avail themselves, either directly through the bank of issue or elsewhere of this genuine $5,000 draft, which is certainly not a hard task for the men who have successfully performed the harder one.
A FAMOUS FORGERY
The Morey-Garfield Letter—Attempt to Defeat Mr. Garfield for the Presidency—A Clumsy Forgery—Both Letters Reproduced—Evidences of Forgery Pointed Out—The Work of an Illiterate Man—Crude Imitations Apparent—Undoubtedly the Greatest Forgery of the Age—General Garfield's Quick Disclaimer Kills Effect of the Forgery—The Letters Compared and Evidences of Forgery Made Complete.
Very few cases have arisen in this country in which the genuineness of handwriting was the chief contention, and in which such momentous interests were at stake, as in the case of the forged "Morey-Garfield Letter." It was such as to arouse and alarm every citizen of the republic. A few days prior to the presidential election of 1880, in which James A. Garfield was the Republican nominee, there was published in a New York Democratic daily paper, a letter purporting to have been written to a Mr. H.L. Morey, who was alleged to have been connected with an organization of the cheap-labor movement. The letter, if written by Mr. Garfield, committed him in the broadest and fullest manner to the employment of Chinese cheap labor. It was a cheap political trick, a rank forgery, and the purpose of the letter was to arouse the labor vote in close states against Mr. Garfield. It was also a bungling forgery. We present herewith facsimiles of the forged letter and one written by Mr. Garfield branding the Morey letter a fraud.
The Morey letter was evidently written by an uneducated man. Here are three instances of wrong spelling that a man of Mr. Garfield's education could not possibly make. The words "ecomony" and "Companys" in the eighth line and "religeously" in the twelfth line give evidence of a fraudulent and deceitful letter at once.
The misplacing of the dot to the "i" in the signature to the left of the "f" and over the "r" is a mistake quite natural to a hand unaccustomed to making it, but a very improbable and remarkable mistake for one to make in writing his own name. Another noticeable feature in the Morey letter is the conspicuous variations in the sizes and forms of the letters. Notice the three "I's" in the fifth line. Variations so great in such close connection seldom occur in anything like an educated and practiced hand. The "J" in the signature of the Morey letter has a slope inconsistent with the remainder of the signature and the surrounding writing. It is also too angular at the top and too set and stiff throughout to be the result of a natural sweep of a trained hand.
The Morey letter was written in January, 1880, and made public in October of the same year. If Mr. Garfield wrote the Morey letter in January there was at that time no motive to write it in any other than his ordinary and natural hand. The letter of denial is in his perfectly natural hand; these two letters should therefore be consistent with each other.
The signature of the Morey letter is a clumsy imitation of General Garfield's autograph. Observe the stiff, formal initial line of the "F"—its sharp, angular turn at the top, absurd slope and general stiff appearance, while the shade is low down upon the stem, and compare with the free, flowing movement, round turns and consistent slope of the same letter in his genuine autograph. We might extend the comparison, with like result, to all the letters in the signature, and to a multitude of other instances in the writing of the body of the letter.
Many persons, and some professed experts, have remarked what appeared to them striking and characteristic resemblances between the Morey letter and General Garfield's writing.
It should be borne in mind that if the letter is not in the genuine handwriting of Mr. Garfield it was written by some person whose purpose was to have it appear so to be. That being the case, we should naturally expect to find some, even more, forms than we do, having a resemblance to those used by Mr. Garfield. All these resemblances appear to be either copied or coincidences in the use of forms. There are no coincidences of the unconscious writing habit, which clearly, to our mind, proves the Morey letter, as Mr. Garfield well characterizes it, a very clumsy effort to imitate his writing. Indeed, the effort seems to be little more than an endeavor, on the part of the writer, to disguise his own hand, and copy a few of the general features of Mr. Garfield's writing, adding a tolerable imitation of his autograph.
A WARNING TO BANKS AND BUSINESS HOUSES
Information for Those Who Handle Commercial and Legal Documents—Peculiarity of Handwriting—Methods Employed in Forgery—Means Employed for Erasing Writing—Care to be Used in Writing—Specimens of Originals and Alterations—Means of Discovering and Demonstrating Forgery—Disputed Signatures—Free Hand or Composite Signatures—Important Facts for the Banking and Business Public—How to Use the Microscope and Photography to Detect Forgery—Applying Chemical Tests—How to Handle Documents and Papers to Be Preserved—The Value of Expert Testimony—Using Chemical, Mechanical and Clerical Preventatives.
The following chapter is written by Mr. William C. Shaw, of Chicago, the well-known handwriting expert and expert on forgery, whose services are called in all important forgery and disputed handwriting cases in the country. It is replete with facts and suggestions of the greatest importance, and will be found not only interesting reading, but an instructive article throughout.
The comparative frequency with which checks, drafts, notes, etc., are being raised or altered, as well as deeds, wills, etc., forged and substituted, has naturally created a widespread interest in the subject of "disputed handwriting." The importance of practical knowledge in this direction by those who are continually handling commercial papers and legal documents is at once apparent, but others engaged in any business pursuit may be saved considerable loss, trouble and annoyance by observing the principles and suggestions explained and illustrated in this article.
In approaching the subject of detecting forged or fraudulent handwriting let it be understood as a fundamental principle that there are hardly two persons whose writing is similar enough to deceive a careful observer, unless the one is imitating the other. Hands, like faces, have their peculiar features and expression, and the imitator must not alone copy the original, but at the same time disguise his own writing. Even the most skilled forger cannot entirely hide his individuality and is bound to relapse into his habitual ways of forming and connecting letters, words, etc. The employment of extreme care can be detected by signs of hesitancy, the substitution of curves for angles, etc., which appear very plainly when the writing is critically examined with a magnifying glass. When a signature has been forged by means of tracing over the original, the resemblance is often so exact as to deceive even the supposed author. In these cases the microscope is generally effective in detecting the forgery, as well as the methods employed. Perfect identity of two genuine signatures is a practical impossibility; if, therefore, two signatures superposed and held against the light completely coincide it is almost certain that one of them is a forgery.
The methods employed in executing forged handwriting are varied and depend largely on the individual skill and inclination of the party attempting it.
The most frequent class of forgeries consists of erasures, which means the removing of the genuine writing by mechanical or chemical means. Erasing with knife, rubber, etc., has practically been abandoned by expert forgers, on account of the almost certain detection which must necessarily follow the traces left in evidence. Erasing fluids, ink eradicators, etc., are more generally used for this purpose. These have entered the market for legitimate purposes and can be commercially obtained. Too much confidence should, therefore, not be placed in the careful writing of checks, etc., alone, as with the aid of chemicals the original writing can be entirely removed and forged words and figures substituted.
Second in importance and frequency, and perhaps the easiest kind of forgery, consists of simple additions to genuine handwriting. In checks or drafts the changing of "eight" to "eighty" by the addition of a single letter is a striking illustration. The change of "six" to "sixty," "twenty" to "seventy," etc., can also be accomplished by adding a few strokes and without erasure, as per specimens given.
The forging of signatures and writing in general is accomplished by means of tracing as above referred to, free-hand copying, with the aid of considerable practice, and copying by mechanical or chemical processes. It is not intended here to give directions, but simply to refer to facts, with a view to preventing losses and detecting forgeries. For this reason one method of reproduction may briefly be described. The carelessness with which blotters are used in public places, bank counters, post, express and hotel offices is to be strongly condemned. The entire signature of an indorser is often clearly copied on the underside of the blotting paper, which only needs to fall into the hands of a designing party to be projected on any paper or document and in any desired position.
The means of discovering and demonstrating forged handwriting are as varied as the methods employed in its execution, and it may be some comfort to know that the cunning of the forger is more than matched by the skill and ability of the expert.
The ordinary method of identifying handwriting consists in the "comparison of hands." This, however, is only admitted in courts of justice under certain limitations. The genuineness of a disputed writing can be proved by a witness who has seen its execution, or by comparison with correspondence received in the regular course of business, or by comparisons with disputed specimens of the alleged handwriting, which must also be in evidence. Disputed signatures may be compared with other signatures acknowledged to be genuine, or with letters or documents, the genuineness of which is unquestioned. In arriving at conclusions many things are to be considered, the form of the letters, their manner of combination, evidences of habit, etc.
Another method of detecting forgery is afforded by the internal evidences of fraud of the writing itself, with or without the aid of comparison with genuine writing. These evidences may consist of alterations, erasures, additions, crowding, etc., as above referred to; tracing a genuine writing by means of ink or pencil, afterwards retraced, etc.
The copy of a genuine signature may be free-hand or composite, by which is meant that the writing is produced discontinuously or in parts. Comparison of the separate letters of the doubtful specimen of writing with the separate letters of the genuine writing of the supposed imitator or imitated always exhibits less uniformity if imitation has been attempted, the copyist being frequently led into an approach to his ordinary handwriting or into an oversight of some special characteristics of the writing he is simulating. Even minor points do not escape the expert's critical attention. The dotting of the i's, or crossing of the t's, curls, loops, flourishes, intervals between words and letters, connections, characteristics of up and down strokes are all carefully noticed.
A glass of low magnifying power will, as a rule, exhibit erasures, and even bring to view the erased letters. In tracing, the forger frequently fails to cover over the first outlines, which can be plainly distinguished. The places where the pen has been put upon and removed from the paper may sometimes be noticed, which is in itself strong evidence of fraud.
With the aid of a microscope the character of the alterations, certain characteristics due to age, emotion, etc., the kind of pen used and how it was held, the nature of ink, order of writing, with regard to time, whether produced by the right or left hand, standing or sitting, can often be determined. Indentations made by heavy strokes or a sharp pen, as well as those employed as guides for the signature subsequently written, will also be brought into prominence. Forged signatures placed under the microscope have generally a patched appearance, which results from the retracing of lines in certain portions not occurring in genuine writing.
In case of disputed handwriting photography has also been employed to great advantage. Of course the writing in question should, whenever practicable, be compared with the original, photographic copies being looked upon with disfavor and considered by most courts as secondary evidence. Still, photographic enlargements of genuine and disputed signatures are very useful in illustrating expert testimony. Certain characteristics, differences in ink, attempts to remove writing, etc., may be brought to view, which would be entirely overlooked by direct examination. The wonderful power of the camera has recently been illustrated in a very striking manner. A large ocean steamer was photographed, and on receipt of the proof the owners were surprised to see a hand bill posted on the side of the hull. Examination of the ship disclosed no hand bill there, but another photograph exhibited the same result. A searching inspection revealed the presence of the mysterious paper buried beneath four coats of paint, but defying the superficial scrutiny of the human eye.
As a last resort chemical tests may be applied, by which the identity or difference of the inks used may be established, etc. As a means of demonstrating that chemical erasures have been made a certain manipulation and treatment of the paper submitted will almost invariably bring back the original and obliterated writing.
A few words regarding papers and documents, intended for preservation, will not be amiss. Improved processes of manufacture have certainly had no beneficial influence on the durability of the products, and while inks and papers have become greatly reduced in price and apparently improved in quality, it is very doubtful if much of our book learning and many of our written instruments will go down to future generations. Even fifty years will suffice to decompose many an attractive volume at present on the shelves of our libraries, or fade the writing of finely engraved and important documents. The quality of the ink and paper selected is therefore of greatest importance. Typewritten copies particularly are subject to the ravages of time, and ought to be avoided when preservation for years to come is the principal consideration, as for instance in the case of wills, etc., which ought to be made in one's own handwriting whenever practicable.
Briefly, I may state that all the safeguards employed on commercial papers or legal documents, outside of the actual protection afforded, have the beneficial effect or tendency to make forgeries, erasures or alterations more difficult, at the same time warning prospective forgers to keep a respectful distance.
The inks used, the position of the writing, the paper on which it is written, the employment of certain chemical, mechanical and clerical preventatives are all to be thoughtfully considered by those who desire to protect themselves against losses resulting from fraudulent handwriting.
With regard to expert testimony it may be said in conclusion that it is most effective if governed solely by the evidence submitted, and not by information otherwise obtained. The microscopic and photographic examination of papers and documents, as well as their mechanical and chemical treatment, require in all cases the trained eye, the skilled hand and the extensive experience of the expert, in order to fully utilize the available material and to arrive at conclusions which are in entire accord with the facts under consideration, thereby aiding in the just and equitable settlement of weighty questions of profit or loss, affluence or poverty, liberty or imprisonment, life or death.
Another expert in handwriting says that regarding the methods made use of to determine authorship, specialists are naturally reticent. Some of them have admitted, however, the nature of the leading principles' which guide them. The philosophy of the matter rests mainly on the fact that it is very rare for any two persons to write hands similar enough to deceive a careful observer, unless one is imitating the other. "Fists," like faces, have all some special idiosyncrasy, and the imitator has not merely to copy that of some one else but to disguise his own.
By careful and frequent practice he may succeed well enough to deceive the ordinary man, but is rarely successful in baffling the expert. Even the most skilful culprit cannot wholly hide his individuality, as he is sure to relapse into his ordinary method occasionally. Then again, great care has to be used, and this can be detected by the traces of hesitancy, the substitution of curves for angles and vice versa, which come out very plainly when the writing is examined under the microscope, as it usually is by the expert.
A plan of detection which has been adopted with great success is to cut out each letter in a doubtful piece of writing, and paste all the A's, B's, etc., on separate sheets of paper. The process is also gone through with a genuine bit of caligraphy of the imitator or the imitated, as the case may be. Comparison almost invariably shows that the letters are less uniform if imitation has been attempted, the writer being occasionally betrayed into some approach to his ordinary caligraphy, or into momentary forgetfulness of some special point in the handwriting he is simulating.
No point is too small to escape an expert's attention. The dotting of the "i's," the crossing of "t's," the curls and flourishes, the intervals between the words, the thinness of the up-stroke and the thickness of the down-stroke, are all noted and carefully compared. Where only a signature has been forged, and that by means of tracings from the original the resemblance is often so exact as to deceive even the supposed author, but in these cases the microscope is generally effective in determining not merely the forgery but the method by which it was accomplished. It is some comfort to know that the cunning of the forger is overmatched by the scientific skill of the trained expert.
HOW FORGERS ALTER BANK NOTES
Bankers Easily Deceived—How Ten One Hundred-Dollar Bills Are Made out of Nine—How to Detect Altered Bank Notes—Making a Ten-Dollar Bill out of a Five—A Ten Raised to Fifty—How Two-Dollar Bills are Raised to a Higher Denomination—Bogus Money in Commercial Colleges—Action of the United States Treasury Department—Engraving a Greenback—How They Are Printed—Making a Vignette—Beyond the Reach of Rascals—How Bank Notes Are Printed, Signed and Issued by the Government—Safeguards to Foil Forgers, Counterfeiters and Alterers of Bank Notes—Devices to Raise Genuine Bank Notes—Split Notes—Altering Silver Certificates.
A dangerous game and one too often successfully perpetrated, is the raising of bank bills from a lower to a higher denomination. Counterfeiters and forgers have often been detected making ten bills of nine by the following operation:
A counterfeit one hundred-dollar bank note is cut into ten pieces; one of these pieces is pasted into a genuine bill, cutting out a piece of the genuine of the same size. In pasting nine genuine bills in this manner nine pieces are obtained, which, with one piece of counterfeit, will make a tenth bill, which is the profit. This operation is not a very successful one, as the difference between the counterfeit and the genuine will be very evident to any one who examines closely.
Every business man should know how to detect altered bank bills, and a close scrutiny of all money offered, bearing in mind the suggestions here made, will prove a safeguard. Bank notes are sometimes altered by raising from lower to higher denominations, or replacing name of broken bank by name of good one. This is done either by erasing words and printing others in their place, or by pasting on the original bill a piece of counterfeit work or a piece taken from some genuine bill. If the former, the new counterfeit piece will always differ from the surrounding genuine work. If the latter, the fraud will be revealed by holding the bill up to the light, when the portion pasted will look darker than the surrounding portions.
Another method employed is to cut ten-dollar bills in halves, also five-dollar bills, then join them, and raise the five part to a ten by the blue paper dodge. This bill can be successfully worked off in a roll of other bills, owing to the workmanship, and sometimes a gang will visit a certain locality and flood it with doctored bills. Fifty-dollar bills have been often raised from a ten. This fraud is generally neatly executed, and is well calculated to deceive the unsuspecting, and a banker, in hurriedly counting money, is liable to be taken in on one of these.
A recent scheme to defraud with raised bills is to raise a two-dollar bill to a five. In order to accomplish this feat rascals cut out the figure five in the left-hand corner of a "V" and paste it over the figure "2" in the upper right-hand corner of the two-dollar bill. The pasting is done so neatly that not one person in a hundred, or even a thousand, unless an expert, would notice the difference. The very small $2 marks in the scroll-work surrounding the large figure are blotted out with a pencil and are not visible. The figure "2" in the lower right-hand corner is erased with acids, and the bill is in all respects a first-class imitation of the genuine article. Treasury officials say that this is something new in the way of bill-raising, and is very dangerous.
Many people who are not used to handling money have been swindled by what is known as "Imitation Money." The United States Treasury Department is making strenuous efforts to break up the practice of issuing imitations of the national currency, to which many commercial colleges and business firms are addicted. This bogus currency has been extensively used by sharpers all over the country to swindle ignorant people and its manufacture is in violation of law.
So vague is the general idea as to how a bank note is made that we give an explanation of the various processes it goes through before it is issued as a part of the "money of the realm," saying, by way of introduction, that this country leads the world in bank-note engraving. Unfortunately, the first consideration in making a bank-note is to prevent bad men from making a counterfeit of it, and therefore all the notes of a certain denomination or value must be exact duplicates of each other. If they were engraved by hand this would not be the case; and, another thing, hand engraving is more easily counterfeited than the work done by the processes we herewith describe.
Every note is printed from a steel plate, in the preparation of which many persons take part. If you will look at a $5 "greenback" you will see a picture in the center; a small portrait, called a vignette, on the left, and in each of the upper corners a network of fine lines with a dark ground, one of them containing the letter "V" and the other the figure "5." These four parts are made on separate plates.
To make a vignette it is necessary, first, to make a large drawing on paper with great care, and a daguerreotype is then taken of the drawing the exact size of the engraving desired.
The daguerreotype is then given to the engraver, who uses a steel point to mark on it all the outlines of the picture. The plate is inked and a print taken from it. While the ink is still damp the print is laid face down on a steel plate, which has been softened by heating it red hot and letting it cool slowly. It is then put in a press and an exact copy of the outline is thus made on the steel plate. This the engraver finishes with his graver, a tool with a three-cornered point, which cuts a clean line without leaving a rough edge.
Now this is used for making other plates—it is never used to print from. It must be made hard and this is done by heating it and cooling it quickly. A little roller of softened steel is then rolled over it by a powerful machine until its surface has been forced into all the lines cut into the plate. The outlines of the vignette are thus transferred to the roller in raised lines, and after the roller is hardened it is used to roll over plates of softened steel, and thus make in them sunken lines exactly like those in the plate originally engraved. The center picture is engraved and transferred to a roller like the vignette, but the network in the upper corners, and also on the back of the note, is made by the lathe. This machine costs $5,000, a price that puts it beyond the reach of counterfeiters, and its work is so perfect that it can not be imitated by hand.
The black parts of the note are printed first, and when the ink is dry the green-black is printed, to be followed by the red stamps and numbers. It is then signed and issued. For greater security one part of the note is engraved and printed at one place and another part at another place, when it is sent to Washington to be finished and signed.
But even after all this care and all these safeguards many skillfully executed counterfeits and raised and altered bank notes have been made and issued, some of them so good as to deceive the most expert judges of money.
Many devices have been resorted to by counterfeiters to raise genuine bank-notes, as well as to manufacture bogus ones, but one of the most novel has recently come to light. The scheme consists of splitting a $5 and a $1 note, and then pasting the back of the $1 note to the front of the $5 note and the front of the $1 note to the back of the $5 note. The mechanical part of the work was excellently done, but the fraud could be detected the moment the note was turned over.
An effort had been made to change the "one" to "five" on the "one" side of the new combined note, but it was done so clumsily that the fraud would have been seen at a glance, and the only hope of passing the notes as fives would have been to pass them over with the $5 side up and trust to the man receiving it not to turn it over before putting it away. The doctored notes came to the notice of the writer through one of the Chicago banks, with the request that they be allowed whatever they were worth. The government always redeems notes at the face value, and as the faces in this case were of a $1 and a $5 note, $6 was allowed. It is not known whether the bank was caught on the split notes or not.
Another scheme for altering bank-notes is practiced with more or less success. It is to take a one dollar silver certificate and by means of powerful acids and fine penwork the large figure "one" on the reverse side is split into two "tens," and the intermediate portion transformed into a scroll. On the other side the "one" over the representation of the silver dollar is obliterated and "ten" substituted, but the "s" is left off the dollar. The single "1" figures in the corners are neatly eaten off and the figure "10" substituted. The small "one" is changed to an "X" and a new series number is printed in red upon the face. The bill would pass anywhere. None but an expert would detect the fraud.
INTERESTING WRITINGS OF VARIOUS KINDS FOR STUDY AND COMPARISON
FOUR ORDINARY SIGNATURES WITH DESCRIPTIONS
STUDENTS' HANDWRITING—CRIMINALS' HANDWRITING
GENUINE—FORGED TRACING—FORGED FREE-HAND
ORIGINAL SIZE—GENUINE—FORGED TRACING—FORGED FREE HAND.
SOME THUMB AND FINGER-PRINT SUGGESTIONS
INTERESTING AUTOGRAPH SIGNATURES
GREELEY'S LAST LETTER.
CHARACTERISTIC WRITING OF SOME OF THE BEST KNOWN MEN IN THE BANKING WORLD OF THE UNITED STATES
CURIOUS AND FREAKISH SIGNATURES OF WELL-KNOWN BANKERS AND BUSINESS MEN
HOW SOME CELEBRATED WOMEN WRITE
THREE OF AMERICA'S BEST-KNOWN MEN
THREE FAMOUS MILITARY MEN
[Illustration: We present a group of signatures of famous military men. The autograph of General Grant is plain and simple in its construction, not an unnecessary movement or mark in it—a signature as bare of superfluity and ostentation as was the silent soldier and hero of Appomattox. In the autograph of R.E. Lee we have the same terse, brief manner of construction as in Grant's. It is more antiquated and formal in its style, more stiff and what might be called aristocratic. Its firm upright strokes, with angular horizontal terminal lines, indicate a determined, positive character. In somewhat marked contrast with the two last-mentioned autographs is that of General Beauregard, in that he indulges in a rather elaborate flourish, which is a national characteristic.]
CHARACTERISTIC WRITING OF A FEW OF THE WORLD'S BEST-KNOWN LITERARY MEN AND AUTHORS
AUTOGRAPHS OF SOME WELL-KNOWN MEN. THEIR WRITING IS AS DIFFERENT AS THEIR CHARACTERS.
AUTOGRAPH SIGNATURES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES