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More Hofmann Techniques & Forged Sports Memorabilia (part 3)

Did you know that an estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is fake?  We’re continuing our conversation with George Throckmorton, and he tells that the majority of those “Authentic” jerseys, balls, and bats are forged.  How does he know?

George:  Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work on sports memorabilia. I had a Babe Ruth jersey that was selling for $750,000.

GT: Oh my goodness.

George: It had been authenticated. But it wasn’t [genuine.]  Because the ink that was used to sign it wasn’t made until–Babe Ruth died in 1948. And the ink wasn’t made until 1972, so if it had been genuine, he would’ve had to been resurrected and signed his name. {chuckles}

Of course, we spend the bulk of our time discussing the Hofmann forgeries.  How did Mark age them?  George describes aging techniques that Mark Hofmann used to make his forgeries appear older than they were.  But there was something wrong when George examined signatures.

George:  And as I put an ultraviolet light, there was some part that would reflect back and other parts that would not. And that really caused me some question. Why? If this document has been saved for over 100 years, why would you have some part that glowed and some part that did not, different inks, and so forth? And as I looked at it closer, I noticed the thing that made the document valuable was not the date itself, but the fact that it says, “obliged Joseph Smith.” And where it said, “obliged Joseph Smith” was where I saw different ink and I saw this white effect going around and I asked him that night, I asked him, I says, “Can you tell us where this came from?” Because before we started noticing some of these documents that have blue haze on the documents under ultraviolet light. Others did not.

George: And so we separated them into two piles. And as I looked at those under the microscope, I noticed there was a characteristic of the ink would crack on some of them, not others. And then I noticed the ones with that blue haze, we’re also the ones that had that had the blue there, the cracked ink. And so, I told Bill. “Bill,” I says, “I think we got something here.” And I handed him a stack of documents and I says, “You give them to me, mix them up, give them to me and I’ll tell you which one came through the hands of Hofmann.” And he gave it to me and I looked under the microscope and he says, “this one did.” He gave me another one. “This one did not,” and so forth until we were through. And all of them that had the cracked ink had Hofmann’s signature.

Don’t forget to check out how George became a document examiner, and how Mark’s toy chemistry set fooled the FBI.  Please support Gospel Tangents by any of these methods

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An estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is forged. George Throckmorton describes how he found a $750,000 Babe Ruth jersey was forged.
An estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is forged. George Throckmorton describes how he found a $750,000 Babe Ruth jersey was forged.
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How Hofmann Fooled Experts with a Toy Chemistry Set (Part 2)

We’re continuing our discussion with George Throckmorton. He is the expert who discovered how Mark Hofmann was forging documents. Did you know that Mark actually used a toy chemistry set? It’s pretty amazing.

George:  We finally found the chemicals and the chemicals we found over a year after the bombs. It was in November of 1986. The bombs were in October of ’85 and I was out Christmas shopping in a toy store and happened to glance down to the toy chemistry set. And right there was gum Arabic, Roman vitriol, green copperas, and a recipe on how to make iron gallotannic ink.

GT: No way, that’s crazy.

George:  Later on we found out that’s where he got the chemicals was at a toy store.

GT: At a toy store.

George:  And yet they fooled the biggest laboratory in the world, the FBI.

GT: So yeah, that’s crazy.

George: They were looking for a more sophisticated way of doing things today than what he used. He used method that was used 150 years ago. And we don’t deal with things 150 years old. We deal with modern, at the time forgeries on checks and stuff like that, credit applications. And we’re very proficient at that, but even in the field of document examination, we couldn’t go to anybody to get help because we don’t deal with documents over 50, 60 years old.

We will also discuss George’s role in the famous Howard Hughes will. (Is there anything this guy wasn’t involved with?) It’s really interesting.

George:  The Howard Hughes will, that was the big, if they remember that, the Howard Hughes will. He was the richest man in the world at the time and when they found the will, which they call the Mormon will, I don’t know how much you’re familiar with this story….I got involved in that quite by accident.

GT:  Really?

George: Yes.

George: But anyway, that testimony in court on Howard Hughes will, was a result of having the graphologists testifying against the document examiners.

Mark Hofmann used a toy chemistry set to fool the FBI lab.
Mark Hofmann used a toy chemistry set to fool the FBI lab.

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Check out our conversation, and don’t forget part 1!