Stewart Forensic Consultants, LLC (SFC) is a forensic consulting, laboratory and investigative firm offering over 35 years of experience and training in a wide range of forensic science and private investigation disciplines to include questioned documents, forensic document examination, forensic ink dating, forensic document dating, Art Dating, counterfeit documents, crime scene evaluation, ink analysis, ink age determination, paper analysis, authenticity, fraud investigations, product piracy, fingerprints, handwriting, trace evidence, Daubert and cold case (consultant) investigations. In addition, SFC offers worldwide trial preparation, assistance and expert witness testimony. Larry F. Stewart is the Chief Forensic Scientist and President of SFC. He is a Certified Forensic Questioned Document Examiner and a Certified Forensic Consultant.
Our goal is to provide efficient examination of evidence in order to help you find the truth.
Forensic Ink Dating Experts
Whether your case requires an expert in questioned document analysis, forensic document examination, forensic document dating, ink analysis, ink dating, art dating, counterfeit documents, crime scene evaluation, ink age determination, paper analysis, printing process determination and age analysis, Daubert preparation, handwriting, cold case analysis, fraud investigation, trace evidence, questioned documents or trial preparation, give SFC a call. We are a worldwide operation.
Ink “Dating” – What is it?
There are typically two different forensic methods for ink dating. The first method used is known as the “static” approach. With this method the forensic analysis determines the components in the ink, compares them against a library of standards and then allows an opinion regarding the first date that particular ink was manufactured (commercially available). The second method is known as the “dynamic” approach in that it focuses on changes occurring within the ink as it ages. The dynamic approach is very useful in determining if a pen ink was placed on a document on its purported date, i.e. the date shown on the document, or else, instead whether the ink was placed on the paper more recently.
There are only a handful of forensic scientists capable of performing these tests and laboratories equipped with the proper tools. These experts would typically use methods including visual and microscopic examinations, ultraviolet fluorescence, infrared luminescence/absorbance, thin layer chromatography and sometimes expensive equipment such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, and Xray fluorescence spectroscopy.
What are the typical ink analysis procedures?
Forensic ink testing is performed on Original Documents and may include:
- a) visual analysis with microscope/magnification device;
- b) infrared and ultraviolet analysis;
- c) electrostatic detection;
- d) thin layer chromatography; and
- e) gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.
The proposed tests are minimally invasive, the latter two involving the placement of pinhole perforations in the text, paper and signatures on the Original Document. The pinholes themselves are not typically easily visible unless the document is held up to light, and the testing has no negative effect on handwriting analysis.
All of the proposed testing follows Court approved testing methods and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) peer reviewed and approved forensic methodology.
Why is ink analysis allowed if a document is in question?
Code of Civil Procedure §2031.010(a) permits a party to inspect and photograph, test or
sample any tangible things that are in the possession, custody or control of the party on whom the demand made. Under appropriate circumstances, the Court may order destructive testing of all or some portion of the physical item in question. See, San Diego Unified Port Dist. v. Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc. (2002) 95 Cal. App. 4th 1400, 1404, 116 Cal. Rptr. 2d 65.
Ink Age Determination (Forensic Ink Dating)
Sometimes the date of a written ink entry on its own or else relative to other entries on the same document is questioned. Chemical tests can be conducted that may determine how long the ink has been on the document and whether a document entry has been falsely dated. Documents bearing such entries may be single page documents or bound documents, such as journals, calendars or diaries. A destructive technique is used for this examination, i.e., small samples of the ink line are removed from the paper.
Ink dating may be performed on ballpoint pen inks. Currently, it is estimated that approximately 85% of ballpoint pen inks are manufactured using a chemical component known as, 2-phenoxyethanol or PE. Larry Stewart was the first to recognize the importance of this in his 1985 publication, “Ballpoint Ink Age Determination by Volatile Component Comparison – A Preliminary Study,” Journal of Forensic Science, Vol. 30, No. 2, April, 1985. There he noted phenoxyethanol and that the concentration changed over time or with heat/evaporation. Even then, the research showed some inks had reproducible aging characteristics that could be reliably measured with gas chromatography. His initial research, observations and publication gave rise to the current approach for testing ink age.