Original Ink Determination - Questioned Documents - Norwitch Document Laboratory
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Original Ink Determination

Original Ink Determination & Examination

Often, especially in matters related to real estate foreclosures, there is a request to determine whether signatures on mortgage documents are original ink signatures, or the product of a printer or photocopier.

While not too many years ago this determination was simple, often accomplished with the unaided eye or low-power magnification, the advent of today’s high-resolution state-of-the-art office equipment has made the process somewhat more difficult.  This is especially true considering the proliferation of high-end color printers, copiers, and scanning equipment.  Yesterday’s low-power magnification, on the order of 10x or less, was quite up to the task.  As of this writing, it is not uncommon to employ a stereo-microscope with power ranging up to 40x.  However, once the right equipment is utilized, the differences between original ink and non-original processes are readily apparent.  This is especially true where color reproduction processes have been employed.

Indications of original ink

One uniform color
Three-dimensional appearance
A “valley” in the middle of the ink line (ball pens)
Reverse side embossing

Indications of a reproduction process

Appearance of fused dry toner
Separate “dots” of different colors (magenta, yellow, cyan)
Geometric pattern