So, a few days ago I received in the mail my first physical Benjamin De Casseres book. I’ve been collecting tons of his writings from online sources, but this is the first dead-tree version that I’ve collected.
The book is Spinoza: Liberator of God and Man, and as a bonus, it’s a signed edition – which I was really stoked about.
However, when I received it and opened to the copyright page, I noticed that the signature wasn’t quite the same as the one I had seen elsewhere. Here it is:
Immediately, I compared it to the signature provided in De Casseres’ Wikipedia profile:
I’m no handwriting expert, but I noticed several differences immediately.
- The tail of the “j” is very different, with the one in my book being smooth, vertical and loopy, while the tail in the Chameleon signature takes a 90º turn and has a sharp cut back, almost like crossing an upside-down T.
- The “e” in “De” is lowercase in theChameleon version, while in my book it is a small capital letter.
Upon noticing these differences, I decided to see if I could find some additional examples of De Casseres’ signature. Given that I have literally thousands of works by and citations about him saved on my hard drive, I figured there was a decent chance I could find at least one or two others.
I found four.
The first was a signed picture published in the Oct. 29, 1921, issue of Leslie’s Weekly. The picture is basically an ad for Judge, a humor magazine for which De Casseres wrote over the course of several years. Unfortunately, the signature is partially obscured due to poor reproduction; while most of his first name is not visible, it’s fairly easy to see “De Casseres.”
Three things are worth noting here:
- The “D” in both signatures starts with a downstroke; however, in theChameleon version, the stroke goes back up before curving down to meet the bottom and continue to the next letter, while in the Leslie version the curve goes from bottom to top, and then crosses through the letter in the middle to start the next letter.
- The “e” in “De” is lowercase in both.
- Likewise, the “C” in each has a looping flourish at the beginning (top) of the letter.
I found two signature variations in different issues of the same periodical, Motion Picture Magazine.
The first is from July 1921:
The second is from October 1924:
These almost look like completely different signatures!
- They slant different ways.
- The “B” and “D” are completely different in each one
- The second one has a long trailing stroke after the final “s” while the first one stops short
- The “e” in “De” is a small-cap version in the 1921 signature, while the 1924 version is lowercase like the others above.
These various distinctions aside, the “Casseres” is remarkably similar in all of the signatures – including the one in my book.
And then, I found this one in the Sept. 8, 1934, issue of the Motion Picture Herald:
Although he wrote a regular weekly-ish column for the Motion Picture Herald for almost two years, this is the only issue which contains a signature. I’ll be honest: I don’t even know what to do with it. The “e” in “De” is lowercase, and the “Casseres” is somewhat similar to the others – but the tail on the “j” is straight downward, unlike any other, and the “B” is simply inexplicable.
So what does all this mean? Who knows… Like I said, I’m not a handwriting analyst (though clearly that hasn’t stopped me from writing about it). At least three of these signatures are from reliable sources, and the fact that two of them are from the same magazine – which presumably got it directly from the author himself – simply shows that he had a lot of variation in his signature.
In the end, I think the one in my book probably is legit. The “Casseres” matches up with the rest, even if there are some other differences. Besides, who would bother to forge De Casseres’ signature? There are like 5 people in the world who even know who he is….
If nothing else, hopefully having images of all these signatures in one place will help others in some way.