Ink Age Analysis

Can you determine the date of preparation of a document containing handwriting?

Yes, but only sometimes. Let me explain.

We can determine the first date of commercial availability of the ink used to prepare any handwriting or printing. If the initial date of commercial availability is more recent than the supposed date of the writing or printing, then the document is not what it purports. It is a falsely dated document. We cannot, however, through this technique, determine the actual date of preparation.

There are other techniques that may sometimes be useful. These techniques can determine the approximate date of preparation of some handwritten entries. If additional entries are available that can be considered “known” regarding their date of preparation, then comparative analysis may provide evidence to indicate the approximate preparation date of the “questioned” writings.

Additionally, it is possible to measure the quantity of several semi-volatile components that are present in some ballpoint pen inks. As these inks age the semi-volatile components have been shown to decrease and therefore the approximate age of the writing can sometimes be determined.

Can an addition to a document, either typed, printed, written, or by substituting a page, be detected?

Yes. Physical and chemical examinations can indicate the use of multiple software programs or fonts, typewriters, printers, papers or writing instruments.

Are any of the referenced techniques destructive?

Careful physical examinations are totally non-destructive and do not affect the documents in any way. Likewise, physical examinations do not affect the ability of other examiners to perform similar testing.

If chemical testing is performed, i.e. commercial availability or ink age testing, sample must be removed from the document. These samples are carefully and precisely removed with a hypodermic needle sized hole punch and do not affect the readability of the writing or printed material.

The hole punch is approximately the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen and based upon the testing may require anywhere from 10 to 30 individual samples. Because the samples are normally taken from the entire area of writing the legibility of the writing and the ability to perform additional tests are largely unaffected.

Will the results of these examinations be admissible in Court?

The ultimate decision of admissibility is at the discretion of the Court. The techniques described have been thoroughly researched and peer reviewed in the literature and through presentation to the forensic and scientific communities.

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