Examination of Impressions

Latent writing and machine impressions 

Documents can be examined for latent writing impressions and machine generated impressions using the Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA).

Writing impressions are created in an underlying document by the act of writing on an overlying sheet(s) of paper.  Machine generated impressions are (generally) those caused by the transportation mechanisms inside photocopiers, printers, scanners and facsimile machines.

On the resulting ESDA transparency, the developed impressions generally appear black whereas the original ink or printed text on the document being examined generally appear transparent (white on a photocopy) against a grey background.

This technique has been successfully applied in cases involving anonymous letters, dating file notes and diary entries, associating allegedly unrelated documents and associating copy documents with the machines on which they were produced.

It may also be possible to determine whether the writing impressions in a document were generated before or after the original handwriting entries on the same document.

Rubber stamp impressions

Documents bearing rubber stamp impressions can be examined to determine such things as:

  • whether they are original stamp impressions or colour reproductions;
  • whether stamp impressions on multiple documents originated from the one rubber stamp;
  • whether stamp impressions were produced by a particular rubber stamp; and
  • whether stamp impressions are consistent with having been produced at a particular time.

Therefore, the examinations require original documents where possible, the rubber stamp/s allegedly used or suspected of having been used, as well as possibly other documents bearing known rubber stamp impressions for comparison.

Related case studies: 

Counterfeit qualifications

The conduct of a real estate agent was investigated following several complaints against this person.  Certificates of qualification and registration held by the person were submitted to our laboratory as part of the investigation.

File notes of telephone discussions

An agent put forward a file note of a record of telephone discussions that had allegedly taken place with the client.

Hospital patient history notes

A patient under care in hospital suffered complications which resulted in permanent health problems.  There was a question raised as to the attentio

Is it an original stamp?

Many organisations around the world rely on the use of official rubber stamp impressions to authenticate their documents.  The forensic document examiners at FDS undertake examinations of what purport to be original rubber stamp impressions on all manner of documents to make a