Dating Documents

Documents are occasionally fraudulently backdated to make them appear as though they were issued or signed much earlier. In such cases, the backdating of documents can often be proved by closely inspecting the type of paper, ink, typewriting or printed information that is present on the questioned document.
 

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows a watermark that appears in sheets of paper from a contested Will.

The mill that produced the paper adopted the practice of placing a short vertical bar (see arrow) beneath a certain letter to denote the year the paper was manufactured.  

In this instance, the bar beneath the "E" proves the sheet of paper was not available until three years after the date of the Will.  

 
Some documents contain miniscule defects that can be relied on to establish when they were printed.  Figure 2 shows the bottom of a form taken from a patient's medical file. The printer used a unique alphanumeric code (see arrow) in the bottom left corner to invoice companies who paid for advertising on forms sent to doctors' offices.  In this case, the form was not available until 3 years after the patient was allegedly treated.
 


Figure 2

 

Sequence of Handwritten Entries

Information can be added or inserted to an entry make it appear as though it was written at an earlier time.  If a questioned document is in contact with other papers, writing impressions are often transferred from one item to another.  This frequently the case when entries are made to diaries, journals, calendars or multi-page documents. 
Indented writing impressions can be made visible by testing documents with an Electro-Static Detection Apparatus or ESDA.  A description of this instrument and the functions it performs appear in the section Indented Writing.  The ESDA is an extremely sensitive instrument capable of restoring indented writing on documents which were situated 4 or 5 sheets below the document written on. 
ESDA test results can also show if a questioned entry was written before or after uncontested information on a document or in a file. This can be very important when examining patient medical records, notebooks, diaries, journals or agendas for alteration or additions.  In such situations, the time  information was added to a document can be a critical factor. 
In Figure 3 below, the sentence outlined in red was allegedly written on Wednesday July 22nd, the same day that two entries above and below the questioned entry were made. The location of the questioned entry corresponds to the second line in the box dated Wednesday July 29th on the following page (see Figure 4).

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5
The July 29th page was tested for indented writing impressions using the ESDA. The results appear in Figure 5.

Indented impressions (originating from writing in the July 22nd box) appear "black" while visible writing on the July 29th page appears "white".

The significance of the phenomena is explained below.

Regions where the "black" and "white" impressions intersect provide information concerning the relative sequence of entries on the two pages (i.e. whether the original writing was produced first or whether it was written after the indented impressions were produced). Figures 6 and 7 are enlargements of areas  "A" and "B" in Figure 5.
     

Figure 6
 
Figure 7

The white lines of the word "Take" in Figure 6 are unbroken and appear to lie over the black lines that correspond to impressions produced by writing on the preceding page.

This means that the first line of the July 29th entry was made after the first line of the July 22nd diary entry. This sequence agrees with the respective dates of the two entries.
 
The unbroken black lines in Figure 7 indicate the questioned entry in the July 22nd box was made after the second line in the July 29th box of the diary.

This is contrary to the sequence suggested by the respective dates of the two entries. The handwritten notation, "Bought 2 antique gold watches for $6750.00." was therefore added after the second entry in the July 29th box.