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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Ultra-Violet Ray and Scrutiny of Writing Show Message is Spurious

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Ultra-Violet Ray and Scrutiny of Writing Show Message is Spurious is an article written by Hubert R. Erlbrookes published in Liberty on 6 june 1931.

The article was published just after Lady Conan Doyle's article: My Husband Comes Back published in the same issue.

Hubert R. Erlbrookes is mentioned as a widely-known handwriting expert of New York City, whom Liberty invited to examine the communication referred to above. Here, in part, is his report.


Ultra-Violet Ray and Scrutiny of Writing Show Message is Spurious

Liberty (6 june 1931, p. 18)
Sir Arthur's known handwriting.
The writing in the message.
Liberty (6 june 1931, p. 18)

I have examined specimens of the known handwriting of the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and have made comparisons of the same with the questioned handwriting on the document described in the preceding article. For matters of reference the questioned handwriting will be referred to as Exhibit A, while the known standards of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's handwriting will be referred to as Exhibits B. All exhibits examined in this case are photographic reproductions.

I have subjected the photograph of Exhibit A to an examination under the ultra-violet ray. It is apparent to me that the writing of this exhibit was originally written on a piece of paper upon which there were other writings that had been erased. Several of the erased words are almost readable, while the outlines of erased writing and evidence of erasures are unmistakably present.

My examination of the photographic reproduction itself suggests that the sensitized plate was light-struck. By that I mean that an exposure was apparently made without an object and that this extra objectless exposure blunted the sharpness of the outlines of the writing that had been previously photographed on the sensitized plate. Whether the sensitized plate was itself old or whether the emulsion was old is not clearly determinable, although it is apparent to me that the blotches on the negative plate from which the positive was obtained are caused largely by the soiled condition of the paper upon which the alleged spirit message was inscribed prior to its being photographed.

The handwriting of the message contained in Exhibit A indicates that it is a simulation or imitation of the handwriting of the writer of Exhibits B by someone lacking a certain quality or acquaintance with the natural and unconscious reproduction of the individual characteristics by which the handwriting of the writer of Exhibits B is individualized. To the ordinary observer the reproduction could be considered as being perfect.

The first betrayal of unnaturalness is that, in the several admittedly genuine signatures of the writer of Exhibits B, the arch of the capital letter "A" of the name "Arthur" is made without a break in it. In the simulated writing of Exhibit A there is a break in the arch toward the top of the minor or upward stroke.

The next point of unnaturalness observed in the formation of the same capital letter "A" in Exhibit A is the manner of making the lateral stroke. It touches heavily against the upward stroke, while in the known handwriting of the writer of Exhibits B the incline is away from the minor stroke and more toward the center of the arch.

In the writing of Exhibit A the capital letter "I" occurs three times. The lower part of each capital letter "I" is observed to be extended unnaturally, with the weight of the pen stroke being heavier at the lower end than it toot the upper end of the curves or loops. In two of the three instances there is a pronounced recoil of the terminal loop, at the some time throwing an unnatural accentuation toward the lower part of the formation of the capital letter "I."

In the handwriting of the writer of Exhibits B, the accentuation of the pen stroke is exactly the reverse of the simulation, being more at the upper part than it is at the lower part of the formation of the same capital letter " I." There is apparently no pronounced re-coiling of either loops in the admittedly genuine handwriting of Exhibits B.

As the result of my examination of the handwriting of Exhibit A and comparison of the same with the hand-writing of the writer of Exhibits B, I am of the opinion that the handwriting appearing in Exhibit A was not written by the writer of Exhibits B, but that the same is a simulated handwriting, and that the simulation was made by some person other than the writer of Exhibits B.






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