Friday, April 06, 2012

Let's Talk About This New Signature

So, news of the week is this superdy-dooper high-resolution scan of what might be a newly discovered Shakespeare signature:

A professor and his students have identified a probable new Shakespeare signature in a 16th century legal text. Using a 50-megapixel multispectral digital imaging system, members of The Lazarus Project have tweaked the status of the autograph from "who knows" to "possible."
Highlights -- the signature's been known about (1942), it's not like they just *saw* it.  What we're talking about is confidence levels over whether in fact it is Shakespeare's autograph and not a forgery.  In particular the use of super cool new technology to do it.  They call it a "multi-spectral fingerprint," and are working to compare this multi-spectral fingerprint of the signature against the same fingerprint for the Ireland forgeries.  That's an interesting idea -- if it's a near-perfect match to known signatures that would be good evidence, but if it turns out to be a near-perfect match to a known forgery that would be evidence as well.

The bigger question would be what it means if this is a real signature.  It appears in a legal text.  How would it have gotten there? What would that say about Shakespeare's access to such books, and knowledge of the law? know, just writing that paragraph makes me think that we're going to decide it's not his signature.  I don't know why.  Just a feeling.

UPDATE - Lifted from the comments, here's a link to Folger's article on the topic with lots of pictures.

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