Authenticating Einstein's Signature

 by Gregory J. Mallon

 

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The image above is an enlarged example of Albert Einstein's signature (lightened using Photoshop)

A CLASSIC Einstein signature

Below classic Albert Einstein signature (likely an earlier example from the 1920's or 1930's):

 

ACTUAL SIZE (More or Less at 1920x1200 resolution)

It is difficult, on a web page to demonstrate the actual size of "anything" (since screen resolutions vary greatly from one computer to another).  But "on my computer", with my resolution (1920x1200), the image above is pretty close to what the actual signature looks like.  I have used Photoshop to enhance it a bit (lighten it up, adjust some contract so it is easier to see on a web page).

 

Common Signature Authentication Tips

Regardless of whether your authenticating Einstein's signature or any other valuable, and hence potentially forged signature, there are some well know techniques used by specialists to identify suspect signatures.  Among these are:

  1. -- A Careless Signature (is "good").  It may seem obvious, but when a signature is authentic, it is usually "less than perfect".  There is typically no slow or deliberate attempt by the celebrity to carefully write his name.  Hence, whenever an autograph appears to be carefully and deliberately written, it should raise a warning flag.   While there are typically a number of specific characteristics which are associated with each celebrity signature, most autograph experts will not even begin to look at those if the signature appears to be a slow, carefully written sample.  You might notice that when the pen moves quickly, the "weight" of the pen (or width of the ink) will change.  This may occur as the pen is first coming down to the paper, or at the very end of the signature.  It might also occur throughout parts of the signature is the hand is moving quickly while signing.  These are clues that the signature was written without regard to "how it looked".  Typically, anyone signing there name will not care that much about whether it looks much like the last one they signed.  It just won't matter to them.
  2. -- The Paper and the Ink.  Believe it or not, rookie forgers will sometimes use the wrong paper (meaning newer paper that is not consistent with the time period in which the celebrity lived), or they may use a pen or ink they did not yet exist.   Image a forger signing "A. Einstein" with a "Sharpie" pen that had not been invented until years after Einstein's death.  Well, it's been tried with a number of prominent celebrities of an "earlier era".   While unrelated to the signature itself, dumb forgers have printed so-called "type-written" letter by Einstein using a "laser printer".   Once you notice something like that, you don't even need to look at the signature, since the "laser printer" had not yet been invented.
  3. -- STYLE (Size, Tilt, and Weight).   Weight of fakes is typically heavier.

Specific Einstein Traits

 

There are some common traits with Einstein's signature that can make it difficult to forge.  Among them,

  1. -- The Size and Weight of the signature.  This is something that is very  consistent with any authentic Einstein signature.   He had a tendency to "write small".  This can be seen in a number of his hand written letters as well as his early scientific manuscripts.  If you come across an Einstein signature that is what the rest of us might consider "large" or even "normal size" cursive, it should be somewhat suspect. 
  2. -- The delicate size and weight of the signature.  While the thickness of the ink is certainly a factor of the pen (or "nib" for fountain pens), it is also clear that Einstein, relative to others (no pun intended), did not seem to write "heavy".  This can be attributed to a relatively quick hand, especially in his early years.
  3. -- It's a difficult "E".    The capital "E" in "Einstein", as with the rest of the signature, should be freely written without deliberation.   You can look at the first capital "E" in "Einstein" and try to write it for yourself.   Good luck the first 20, 50, or 100 times.  It's not that easy.  Try to write it quickly and it will mess with your mind.  That's not to say it isn't possible.  There are, unfortunately, some very good forgers out there who spend a lot of time and effort duplicating this, but it certainly isn't easy.   When the "E" appears to be freely written without care, and still maintains the fundamental characteristics of his classic "E", that is a positive sign.
  4. -- The Break between the "i" and the "n".   A large majority of the time, an authentic Einstein signature shows a small break between the first "i" and first "n".   This is due to the fact that he picked up his pen.  Most of the time the "n" resumes very close to the "i", but rarely touches it.   You will sometimes see what appears to be a continuation from the first "i" to the "n" but that most usually due to the "luck" of dropping the pen back down at the exact same point from where it was lifted.  Upon closer inspection, you may see a very slight direction change where the "i" and the "n" are joined.
  5. -- The Break between the "T" and the "e".    Just like the first common break, we very frequently find that an authentic Einstein signature shows a small break between the first "T" and following "e".   This is again due to the fact that he picked up his pen.  As with the earlier break, the "e" resumes very close to the "T", but rarely touches it.   Again, you will sometimes see what appears to be a continuation between the "T" to the "e" but that most usually due to the "luck" of dropping the pen back down at the exact same point from where it was lifted.  As with the first break and upon closer inspection, you may see a very slight direction change where the "T" and the "e" are joined.

- Gregory Mallon, Einstein's World

 

The image above is a classic example of Albert Einstein's signature.   He rarely wrote his first name when signing, instead using his first initial and last name.   The "A" shown above is more reminiscent of his earlier signatures, where you see the small fishhook like curve at the bottom left part of the "A".   Later in life, he would typically use a basic "A-frame" initial which had no hook (basically straight up and down, like an upside-down "V").

The image above is an enlarged example of Albert Einstein's signature (lightened using Photoshop)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The image above is an enlarged example of Albert Einstein's signature (auto-contrast adjusted using Photoshop)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image above is an enlarged example of Albert Einstein's signature (lightened using Photoshop)