The rise of the Robograph signature part two!

Posted by 26/03/2018 0 Comment(s)

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, but neither does it look as though its been done by Autopen either!


When we write our name the fingers of the hand will move the pen not just up down and across 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 look totaly different and have a different line width etc, even though they have both used 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 of these signatures can vary widely. Another thing to remember is that some of these people have little or no knowledge of autographs 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 the machine only produces the line by using very small movements, so the signature is actually made up of thousands of very small movements, and this can sometimes be seen if the signature has been created using a pen and the right wriring surface. If the paper is porous the ink will get sucked into the paper very easily and will often not leave any of those tell tale tiny stops and starts, but a nice glossy surface allows the ink to sit on the surface and dry more slowly thereby allowing you to see those very small movements the machine makes.


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 a series of small movements, and that there is no or very little variation in speed or pressure throughout the signature. 

Remember that in most cases the forger has copied an authentic example and used Photoshop to produce the fake signature, so it will look almost exactly like a genuine example, unless the idiot forger has copied a forgery to start with!


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



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