Font Detective, Extra Bold: forgeries and more -


Font Detective, Extra Bold: forgeries and more

Thursday February 21st, 2013 by Extensis

I have a couple of talks coming up in New York (AIGA/WebVisions, Feb 27) and Austin (SXSW, March 9) in which I will be talking about my “Font Detective” cases: basically cases where I have been called upon as a font expert to authenticate or debunk dubious documents, or make other typographic determinations with legal consequences. Come learn how mistakes in typography, printing and font selection ruined what could have otherwise been perfectly good forgeries!


Although I do a variety of moonlighting and consulting on the side from my day job here at Extensis, this is far and away my favorite kind. I have looked into over a dozen cases since 1998, and I can’t imagine having more fun than investigating puzzles like these, seizing on each and every angle, trying to come up with decisive elements that could prove forgery with certainty. (One can’t really “prove” a negative, like something not being a fake.)

Among the folks who have consulted me over the years: a US Treasury agent, a Fortune 10 company, the Washington Post, and the PBS TV show “History Detectives.”


My version of the talk for New York will be “the long version,” a whopping two hours (including questions), but I am confident that people will be kept engrossed that whole time. When I did the “long version” in Chicago, the audience was so involved that when I tried to let them have a 10-minute break after an hour, they refused to go! I had let on that I could cover more if we went straight through, and they wanted more cases instead. In the New York talk I will cover eight of my cases, including the big ones and several smaller ones that have unexpected conclusions, because it turns out real life is not actually the same as the movies. This talk is to benefit AIGA New York, and is sponsored by WebVisions and Extensis.

At SXSW in Austin I will be doing “the condensed version,” an hour focused on my three most interesting cases, including my first case (a forged will) and one involving then-President George W. Bush.

I hope to do the full talk here in Portland to benefit our local AIGA some time soon, and doubtless it will spring up elsewhere! Maybe by then I will be able to talk about my two most recent cases—each with millions of dollars at stake.