Please click on the above scan and have a good look before you continue reading.
Here is the story-this image was sold by a well known dealer of images from the East coast. It was bought sight unseen out of his catalog by a collector for a considerable sum of money. Upon receipt of the image the collector thought it look very suspicious so he sent it to me for review. Here are my findings:
1. The image purchased is an authentic period Brady cdv of a union sergeant.
2. The carte has had a fraudulent identification added to the verso. While this is very obvious to myself, I could see how it could elude the novice or inexperienced collector. I will try to explain as clearly as possible for you in the section below, and
3. The end result is changing a $40 or $50 image into a $250 image, which is the reason why the fake id was added.
Now I will attempt to get into the "how" now that we know the "why" it was done.
The close up scan of the identification shown below shows a "bleeding" effect of the ink around each letter, which is a dead give away that the signature has been added with modern ink. Regardless of what a dealer or fellow collector may say, it is an established fact that modern ink applied to old paper almost ALWAYS bleeds like this, excluding ball point pen and certain markers (you would recognize these inks as modern so they won't be used). They sell modern "antique" fountain pen ink, and that is usually what the forgers use when adding fake id's to books, documents, images etc. In fact, the famous forger Mark Hoffman eluded detection for a long time because he found a way to stop this "bleeding" by adding a certain chemical to the ink (this is a great story, check it out on the net). It took the FBI quite a while to figure this out after he became a suspect in the bombings in Salt Lake City. Old paper and modern ink do not get along.
The next thing I want you to look for is the consistency and the color of the ink itself. Notice the different color blotches, not noticeable to the naked eye, but very obvious under magnification. The fake signature is jet black, not brown. The only signatures of the period that are still black are ones that have not been exposed to air for any great length of time. This is the exception, not the rule.
In the scan of the authentic id you will notice the beautiful texture and brownish color of old authentic ink.
Finally notice the single line in the center of the signature (its obvious, just look) instead of the double line of the normal quill pen from that period of time. The final scan (the one on the right) has a great comparison of the fake and an authentic period signature. This shows the double lines of the period quill pen. Have a good look and learn.