The Nerd In Me Just Needs to Let Go. Sometimes.

Over the weekend my husband and I were looking for a popcorn movie to watch. One—short lived—topic of conversation was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Laying aside the question of how this became a topic of conversation, let’s state the obvious.

  1. In order to accept the premise of this movie, one must be…forgiving of historical inaccuracies. Or completely ignorant.
  2. The writing of “Abraham Lincoln” in the movie title is meant to mimic Lincoln’s signature.
  3. That signature is a forgery.

Am I forgiving of this? Well, yes. See item number one. But the making of movies is the making of forgeries, in many ways, so I’d like to think they’d be better than this. As a rare book dealer, we are constantly on the watch for forged signatures in books we may acquire, so naturally I’m a bit sensitive. Some problems:

 

  1. Both capitals show the pen being picked up before starting the rest of the word. Lincoln slides right into the rest of both words from the capitals.

(On the other hand, there’s been a clear effort here to mimic the split pen design of the types of pens used by Lincoln, as evidenced by thicker downstrokes.)

  1. The loops on both the capitals (through the middle of the “A” and the bottom of the “L”) are wrong in their angles.

(On the other hand, the beginning and the end of the capital “A” are clearly meant to copy the way Lincoln wrote it. The “A” is also, appropriately, on a lower plane than the rest of the signature.)

 

  1. The “ln” at the end of the signature is on the same plane as the rest of the word. In real Lincoln signatures, he floats the “ln” upwards on a higher plane.

(Note that this fan-made movie poster for the upcoming movie Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis, does this correctly!)

 

Lincoln’s real signature:

 

Lincoln’s full signature on an official document during the Civil War.

 

While we’re at it, a couple other Lincoln autograph tidbits:

 

  1. Lincoln hated the name Abe. He never, ever signed his name that way.
  2. With the exception of official documents, when he had to, Lincoln rarely signed his name in full as “Abraham Lincoln.” He preferred “A. Lincoln.”
  3. “Lincoln blue” paper has been retroactively named after him, since he famously used this particular blue paper through much of his early career as a lawyer.
  4. Lincoln’s handwriting is extremely difficult to read. If you see a Lincoln letter that you have no initial problems reading, it’s highly suspect!
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11 Comments Add yours

  1. vanbraman says:

    What really stands out to me is the larger spacing between the ‘a’ and the ‘h’ and the ‘o’ and ‘l’. Do other Lincoln signatures have the same spacing?

    I am also curious do you have a big fancy magnifying glass to pull out and inspect the signatures :-). I like it when the signature expert on Pawn Stars pulls out his fancy magnifying glass. It is a nice wow factor and gives an air of authority :-).

    1. That spacing is not in all Lincoln signatures, though perfectly within his variations.

      As for a big fancy magnifying glass, I actually have something way cooler. I’ve used it on a couple of scenes I filmed for Pawn Stars, but they haven’t aired yet. You’ll see!

      1. vanbraman says:

        I am looking forward to finding out what you will be using.

      2. AJ says:

        I’m guessing that was the item on ‘Santa Chum’ tonight? Tell us more please.

      3. Kirill says:

        Rebecca,

        I saw this ‘way cooler thing’ you used on Pawn Stars the other night while verifying presidents’ signatures. What is it and how do I get one?

  2. Very interesting…I thought he must have shortened it to A. Lincoln because he was just in a hurry hunting for zombies.

    1. A natural supposition. But wrong!

    2. agsahsh agsahsha says:

      Vampires.

  3. claire says:

    Love this, Rebecca. I’m certainly no expert like you but signatures really interest me. I used to work in a bank and we had signature forgery sessions and I used to get the highest marks in detecting them. Loving your blog SO much, thank you.

    1. If you’re interested in forgery detection, you should check out Great Forgers and Famous Fakes by Charles Hamilton.

  4. Chad Hayes says:

    Wow! You really are a nerd! That’s awesome! Just let it go…..;-)

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