Problems in Comparing Very Similar Handwritings. A Numeric Approach
Dr. Marie Anne Nauer,
IHS Institute for Handwriting Sciences, Zurich, Switzerland
In Chernov, Y., & Nauer, M. A. (Eds.). (2023). Handwriting Research: Forensics & Legal. P. 17-36.
Very similar handwritings are not supposed to occur often in daily life. Yet, they do – and they cause problems. In forensic handwriting examination, the examiner is repeatedly confronted with very similar handwritings. At first glance, this does not seem to be an unusual observation, since – if the writing to be compared is not authentic – it is usually a matter of imitation, and such imitation is naturally executed as similarly as possible to the model.
However, some writers have a very similar style to their “model” or can put themselves in the person’s shoes exceptionally well. Indeed, in cases of counterfeiting, we expect the features assigned to form to be the most congruent ones. Hence, we have to be aware that concentration mainly on specific shapes can be a severe source of errors. In forensics, this often results in wrong judgments. This circumstance is to be countered using a more specific and even more objective approach than usual.
In consequence, in all these cases where highly similar handwritings occur the expert has to use comparison methods e.g. systematic scales of quantified and thus highly differentiated quality analysis, followed by a systematic numerical approach. Some appropriate instruments have proven to be very useful and convenient in this context to achieve scientifically based assessments of handwriting characteristics. In the paper, related methods are presented for discussion.