I once wrote the late forgery expert Charles Hamilton (author of many works, including Great Forgers and Famous Fakes, 1980), with whom I had been corresponding, asking if he would teach me to become a "forger" -- i.e., to learn to produce forgeries, on the model of setting a thief to catch a thief. I promised that if he would, I would never turn to a life of crime. And so he did. He sent old paper and I made old ink, cut quills, and endlessly produced forgery practice sheets (like this beginning one for George Washington) and "academic forgeries" (as I term them, like the "B Franklin" illustrated here). This work assisted me in producing my books, Pen, Ink, and Evidence and Detecting Forgery. I have also been consulted in many cases, such as by the Salt Lake City District Attorney's office in the Mark Hofmann forgeries and murder case on how to make, and artifically age, iron-gallotannate ink. In autographing the flyleaf of the second edition of Great Forgers, Hamilton wrote, "For Joe Nickell, one of America's best & most skilled handwriting detectives...." I often signed a letter to Hamilton with a forged signature of a famous person.

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