LETTERS
Comments 44

Handwriting comparison – (the mystery letter part II)

Frank B has produced a jpeg that compares the writing in the mystery letter to a known sample of the Baz’s hand. Opinions of all kinds welcome, but if any handwriting analyst happens to be reading, we’d very much like to hear from you! 😉 Frank asks me to point out that the known sample is written with either a fountain pen or a dip pen and the mystery letter is apparently written in pencil, which he says was a common thing for soldiers to do when in the front line when ink was not available.

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44 Comments

  1. Cely says

    Fantastic freakin blog. I’m a huge fan of Basil Rathbone and visit “Basil Rathbone Master of Stage and Scree every tme there’s an update which isn’t enough!

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  2. Oh and I was more impressesd by the content that I read then by the handwrighting.If it’s a forgery the forger did some background research.Forging a signituer is one thing forging a whole letter another, but getting the details correct is another can of worms.IMHO.

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    • Please tell us all how you know this to be true?Come on Alyssia if you have all kinds of secret info, play your cards.Just being stubborn about stuff makes you look like a silly teenager who even if there wrong is just gonna keep saying the moon is pink for no reason. If your so sure..say why..to ventuer a guess is fine. But If your SO dead set positive it’s a forgery give a reason for an for it. Give us proof if you have proof.I would say just from looking at the B that the handwrighting isnt the same person. Untill I get to the word “letter”.Given the years apart, miles apart, and siutions under each were writen….DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT NOT A HANDWRIGHTING EXPERT. Are you? But on the surface if its a forgery it looks like a good one to me.

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  3. Tilly says

    What a cool detective story! This is one of the most interesting Hollywood type blogs out there!

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  4. moby dyke says

    Naked eye comparison puts this beyond doubt. They were written by the same people.

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  5. OuidatheSecond says

    Thank you for this site. I disagree with the previous poster. I have a handwritten letter from Basil I bought on Ebay, dated 1926 and the writing is identical.

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  6. IamTheMole says

    Usually I don’t post comments, but I have to say these letters are definitely by Basil. The handwriting is identical.

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  7. Benny says

    I work as a para-legal and I have a colleague who work as a document examiner. if you would like I can ask her to look at these and give an informal opinion

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  8. manson says

    It’s definitely Rathbone’s hand. I don’t think there can be any doubt about that. How exciting.

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  9. Hipolita says

    I think it’s Basil’s writing, is there some reason you don’t publish the whole thing? i’m dying to know what it says, is it romantic?

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    • Frank B says

      No it’s not romantic its a letter to his family and it describes how life has been the past stretch in the front line, which included a chlorine gas scare.

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  10. Old Codger says

    An essential read for anyone interested in Rathbone’s war record would be the book “Bravest of Hearts; the biography of a Battalion” which is all about the Liverpool Scottish during the Great War. I gather he gets quite a bit of coverage. Unfortunately the book is out of print and hard to find.

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    • I for one would be very interested to know more, I gather he was quite the hero and enjoyed dressing up as a tree to sneak up on Germans! 😀

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      • Frank B says

        A lot of the lads who had been in the war would to try to make a joke of it for others, but big mistake to imagine it was really funny. Lads doing Rathbone’s job were risking their lives every second and ended up scarred in their brains for life. We’re not talking dressing up as a tree for a laugh, we’re talking wearing camouflage because these boys were going out in broad daylight to do a job that was a death sentence when done at night! Anyone who knows anything about the realities of the Great War will tell you a daylight patrol was done by a hero or a would be suicide who had got cracked from the strain. Nothing to laugh at either way. In Rathbone’s memoirs he say he came back having trodden in a rotting corpse in No Man’s Land and vomited from the stench. He tells it light, but anyone with imagination try to imagine this as a reality. This kid was what? 26? Boys doing men’s work. I know you don;t mean anything, but it’s not funny mate.

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        • You make a fair point I suppose it’s easy to trivialise or to assume a thing is funny if a man presents it that way and we probably do underestimate what that war meant to the men in it. I always assumed Rathbone had a fairly all right war as it went though.

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        • Manson says

          Not everyone had bad wars though and maybe Basil didn’t? he seemed quite ok about it and could make jokes.

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          • Frank B says

            Have you seen the film “Oh What a Lovely War”? It’s fiction but it tells a lot of reality. The song at the end “we’ll never tell them”, just listen to it and you’ll understand why the ones who got through made jokes. This is a good description of a normal day taken from that letter:

            “Otherwise — we kill rats. And lice. Or play cards. Or take rifle inspections or censor letters or write our own letters home. Fritz has been paying this sector a fair bit of attention for the last day or so. Mostly minenwerfers and field artillery but occasionally we get one of the really big blighters. There’ll be a terrific whistle and rush and thump somewhere and the ground will shake and bits of the parapet will fall on us. Terribly jolly. The heavy stuff mostly fall on the reserves, which of course means we are getting no food sent up and are living on rations and scraps and are fairly starving right now. Sleep is impossible day or night. As soon as we stand down at dusk there is endless movement and bustle of men on fatigues and supplies coming up the communication trenches and everyone is more jittery because we can’t see so every shadow becomes Fritz creeping up on us. Star shells are going up all night. Machine guns rattle now and then at nothing. Sometimes some unlucky blighter catches it by blind chance and the call for stretcher bearers goes up even though there’s not usually much to be done. After a few days of this one is so tired and stupefied one can fall asleep standing up on watch, and is really good for nothing, and so we are sent behind the lines to sleep and wash and eat hot food and be rested enough to do it all again.”

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            • Frank B says

              I’ve thought about it and you are welcome to put the letters here where they can do some good perhaps, people today are too bloody ignorent about 1914-18.

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            • embechtel says

              thank you soo much for this opportunity,of reading this letter.
              i own a copy of -oh what lovely war- i understand what your saying.
              how fortunate basil and others could make jokes! some men never talked about the wars they were in. thats how badly it affected them i guess.my grandfather was in ww1.there was no war stories at all, told by him .
              .he had no formal education{worked in coal mines in pennsylvania since he was7 or 8 years old} so,there were no letters written home.i do not recall seeing ,or do i have any evidence of his handwritting in my fathers belongings.

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              • Frank B says

                yes, truth to tell your grandfather might have been a very brave man with a big story to tell he knew he could never let you know about

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              • Frank B says

                Yes, or part of it. You are welcome to them both, I was going to see about selling them. I never sell, but I was tempted to see if I could get a bob or two, but on second thoughts I will keep them as thy are worth having and anyone is welcome to have copies or to publish them if they want.

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                • Wow, thanks! That is really generous of you and comes at a very opportune moment (as you’ll shortly see). Will you send scans of them both? It’d be great to be able to see the original handwriting in full.

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                • embechtel says

                  whatever you decide to do with your letter.i say good for you!
                  how kind of you to make that offer.

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  11. Baz Girl says

    Whoa wait, you have a real life signed photo? All I have is scans and downloads!

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  12. concerning handwriting comparison 2 above:i will buy the E,A,R, in dear with frank b letter, and the back of my letters, SHEAR.

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      • i would luv to .i donnot have the capability,that i know of. i own a laptop.i have no scanner ,no digital camera or camera cellphone.can someone offer me another option besides mail?how about a fax?
        again i never had it looked at by an expert.i got it from a friend .a friend gave it to me because i am a fan.
        the writing was on it went he bought it.he never verified it.the writing on this appears also to be written in pencil.
        the reason we thought the strongest possibilty any of the writing was basils{?} was the signiture in the left lower part- written in the margin.
        basil{if you check out ebay}was seen to have signed letters like that.
        again let me stress i have my doubts ,especially about the r and th in rathbone.
        i never considered taking to an expert.why? i had no intention of selling it and,i will not give it away.

        .

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  13. Fred Singer says

    The two top words look very similar, as do the two versions of “letter”. But to my mind the two capital “Bs” look quite different. of course the same person can write differently at different times of his life or with different writing instruments or in different states of mind. The “mystery” handwriting looks more cramped and tense and less flowing. But this is a letter written by a soldier. If he is in the trenches at the time and under potential stress this would probably affect his handwriting. I think the words that look similar are _so_ similar that there is a high probability they were written by the same person, but then I am not a graphologist. Is the letter interesting may I ask? Does it tell us anything about Rathbone’s war we don’t already know from his autobiography?

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    • Fred Singer says

      I should have added”supposing it was written by him” to the last sentence.

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  14. hi katoodle,
    i can help you either way.i can get you a second hand copy from a guy in england ,not sure of his present cost.you can try a man named sidney bloomberg on http://www.basilrathbone.net.he is listed to buy and trade.he has a list of his wants.
    lastly,if your not real fussy about your films,i can make you a copy from mine which would be be a copy from a copy.
    you just need to pay for the shipping and handling and the cost of the dvd or vhs.
    which would be 2 or 3 bucks.
    let me know!

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    • Katoodlel Lolly says

      No thank you embechtel, I really appreciate it, but I don’t want you to have to go to any trouble, but thank you very much just the same. Thanks for reading.

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  15. Katoodle Lolly says

    Dude, it is totally his writing. This is so neat, thanks so much for posting.
    BTW, anybody know where one can watch, rent or buy “The Last Of Mrs. Cheyney” with Basil Rathbone and Norma Shearer? I am desperate to find this movie and tcm isn’t playing it for months, if ever. Please anybody, let me know if you have any info. Thank you for reading.

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