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Faking old manuscripts
Posted: 16 July 2006 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m interested about how some people have been able to fake manuscripts of a certain era. I have been reading about the subject quite a bit already, for example about Mark Hofmann who faked many documents and books.

But no book I have yet found give exact and detailed information how these hoaxes were made.

Would anyone have any hints from where I could find more information about the subjects? Websites? Books? Anything?

Thanks.

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Posted: 16 July 2006 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Since what these folks were doing is considered criminal, as in the fake Hitler Diaries, I doubt that an instruction manual exists.

One would need to become an expert on the life and times of their subject (target?), as well as an absolute expert on the person they are faking, from their personal history to their deepest motivations, likes and dislikes even as mundane as favorite foods and colors, etc.

You would need to be intimate as to their manners of speech, their favorite haunts or pastimes, sexual preferences, and of course become familiar with everything written about that person.  In the case of someone truly prominent, such as Hitler, that would, of course, be impossible, but nevertheless, incredible research, if you want your work to have a chance of being mistaken for genuine.

A simpler tact might be to have the manuscript written by a contemporary of your subject, someone known to exist and to have been close to your subject, but not so prominent, therefore increasing your chances of fooling the public.

And some way that the manuscript could have remained undiscovered all these years, perehaps hidden by a lover or a political friend, or mis-filed in some University collection.

Quite a daunting task!


Dan the Writer’s Helper

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Posted: 16 July 2006 09:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It’s not just that, Dan.  You need to have the knowledge on the correct types of paper and inks used for the period you’re thinking of creating a fake document for.  And I believe that sticking the document in an oven for a bit to age it is common practice.

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Posted: 17 July 2006 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Your career as a forger will be made a lot easier if you can start out with a piece of blank paper authentically from the period that your forgery is supposed to come from. Old books with blank pages are useful for this purpose.

A lot of forgery methods are detailed in THE ART OF THE FAKER by Frank Arnau.

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Posted: 17 July 2006 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Alex - 17 July 2006 04:22 AM

Your career as a forger will be made a lot easier if you can start out with a piece of blank paper authentically from the period that your forgery is supposed to come from. Old books with blank pages are useful for this purpose.

A lot of forgery methods are detailed in THE ART OF THE FAKER by Frank Arnau.

I’m not about to forge anything. But if one wishes to create a fake document, getting a blank paper of that era would be a must. As far as I know, there’s no other way to fool carbon dating.

Thank you very much for the book recommendation, this is exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping to find!

Any other tips?

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Posted: 17 July 2006 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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NoxOmPax - 17 July 2006 05:52 AM
Alex - 17 July 2006 04:22 AM

Your career as a forger will be made a lot easier if you can start out with a piece of blank paper authentically from the period that your forgery is supposed to come from. Old books with blank pages are useful for this purpose.

A lot of forgery methods are detailed in THE ART OF THE FAKER by Frank Arnau.

I’m not about to forge anything. But if one wishes to create a fake document, getting a blank paper of that era would be a must. As far as I know, there’s no other way to fool carbon dating.

Thank you very much for the book recommendation, this is exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping to find!

Any other tips?

Yep. Consult a book or article about paleography. Apart from needing the correct paper, you also need the correct writing utensil, writing/typography style, as well as correct type of ink. The latter will probably mean you’ll have to make ink yourself.

Oh, and its compulsory to include a reference to the Knights Templar in your forgery…

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Posted: 17 July 2006 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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If you become an expert, you might fool other experts.
But even then, someone might notice a flaw, like a word or name that didn’t exist or an obscure anachronistic cultural reference.
That’s why, even with a good forgery, make sure you get enough important and old professors, phd’s,... to acknowledge it. After all, they’re usually the ones that teach using old documents.  (smiles devilishly)

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Posted: 17 July 2006 10:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Smerk - 17 July 2006 01:48 AM

It’s not just that, Dan.  You need to have the knowledge on the correct types of paper and inks used for the period you’re thinking of creating a fake document for.  And I believe that sticking the document in an oven for a bit to age it is common practice.

Good point!

Dan the Foiled Forger

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Posted: 17 July 2006 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Or you could beat all the carbon dating and that sort of thing by simply carving everything onto a slab of rock.  Then you’d just have to be certain that it’s the right type of rock for that area.

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Posted: 18 July 2006 02:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Accipiter - 18 July 2006 03:08 AM

Or you could beat all the carbon dating and that sort of thing by simply carving everything onto a slab of rock.  Then you’d just have to be certain that it’s the right type of rock for that area.

Old stones are very difficult material since they have a patina. Oded Golan forged the Jehoash Inscription (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_joash.htm) stone tablet by first finding an old piece of stone and then engraving the text on it.

A piece of rock is constantly in a slow chemical reaction with the surrounding matter, usually air. This forms a thin but very hard layer to the surface of the rock called patina. Its height can be used to determine the age of the stone, a bit like the circles of a wood. So, using just any rock wouldn’t work, the stone would have to be from the right era. And the chemical contents of the patina also shows in which part of the world the patina was formed in, so the stone must be found from the right place as well.

The problem is, if you wish to engrave a writing to an old stone you are engraving through the old, genuine patina and exposing the stone under it. In order to fix the problem, you would have to create a fake patina to the bottom of the engraving marks.

This is very difficult. Oded Golan had exactly all the right materials, he made a fine powder of them and used hot water to make a paste out of them. The hot water caused the materials to attach to each other on a molecule level. He then put a thin layer of the paste to the engraved parts and used oven to harden the homemade patina.

However, there were two major problems:

1. The homemade patina was very soft. As you can imagine, mixing water and fine sand power doesn’t really create a very solid matter when the water is dried out. It can crack when you tap on it, while a real patina is very hard.

2. It’s possible to test in what temperature the patina was formed in. They tested the patina of the engraved areas and found out it had formed in temperatures of at least 40 degrees celsius. The temperature of which a real patina is formed usually matches the long term average temperature of the area, and as you can guess, there’s no place on earth where the long term average temperature would be over 40 degrees celsius.

So, don’t think about creating a fake stone tablet unless you have invented a way to fake patina smile

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Posted: 18 July 2006 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Just have an amateur archaeologist “discover” and then misguidedly “clean” it, thus just happening to unintentionally remove all traces of evidence on the stone’s surface.  Things like that have happened often enough even with actual recognised legitimate finds, after all.

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Posted: 18 July 2006 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Accipiter - 18 July 2006 07:17 AM

Just have an amateur archaeologist “discover” and then misguidedly “clean” it, thus just happening to unintentionally remove all traces of evidence on the stone’s surface.  Things like that have happened often enough even with actual recognised legitimate finds, after all.

Patina isn’t something like a dust on the surface of a rock, patina is a very hard layer of rock. It can’t be removed without major force. Removing real patina from old stone would require the amateur archaeologist to use a hammer for every square inch of the stone, and still there would be some patina left.

More information about the faked tablet and patina can be found from:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/solomon_qa.shtml

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