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Absolute And Relative Dating Of Documents

Analysis of a document either on a standalone basis or by way of comparison against other documents, to determine either its relative date of creation or absolute date of creation.

  • Examination of fonts
    It can be possible to determine when the font used in the creation of a document was introduced onto the market. On occasions, an anomaly may be identified between the date of the font's introduction and the purported date of the document concerned.
  • Examination of papers
    To determine whether the paper of a questioned document is from the same source as other papers, to undertake a comparison of the paper of the document in question with other documents, for example, those used by the office from which the document is said to have emanated at the salient period in time etc.
  • Signatures/handwriting
    Signatures and handwriting may change with time. If reasonable volumes of comparison documentation over a period of time from the same individual can be obtained, the quality of writing or writing style may be identifiable to a particular time period.
  • Examination of Printing
    Laser printers and copiers frequently produce small black extraneous toner deposits (specks) referred to as "trash marks". Many causes of trash marks may be relatively transient and may only exist for a period of weeks or months whilst other marks may only be found on a very small number of copies before the problem clears itself. Consequently, if a large number of prints from the source from where the questioned document is said to have originated are available, it may be possible to identify the "window in time" in which the printer produced the same marks.
  • ESDA
  • See “ESDA” section above.
  • Letter headings and Footers
    Letter headings and footers can be examined to determine whether the design and method of printing is the same as other documents emanating from the same source at the salient period in time.
  • Examination of stamp impressions
  • Stamp impressions can be affected by issues such as ink build up on the stamp face, damage to the stamp face, the attachment of extraneous materials such as hairs, paper fibres etc. Consequently, if comparison material bearing impressions from the same stamp at the salient point in time can be provided, it can be possible to determine a “window in time” when the stamp impression was made.
    “Rubber” stamps can shrink minutely with time and, with appropriate comparison material, it can be possible to date the same. If a large number of documents can be obtained which contain impressions made from the same hand stamp, the shrinkage can be calculated and plotted on a graph. One can then compare the dimensions of the stamp impression on the document in question against such a graph and, consequently, a determination of the age may be made.