Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Abraham Lincoln's Most Notorious Forgers

The Lincoln Forgery Connection

Aside from Cosey and Woodhouse, there are several other infamous fraudsters who have gained recognition for their reproductions and fabrications of Lincoln documents. Among them are Charles Weisberg, John Laflin, Eugene Field II and Harry D. Sickles. Although many of their forgeries are still in circulation today, most have been exposed as blatant fakes.

The American poet Eugene Field passed down his unique gift of writing to his son and namesake, Eugene Field II, whom he affectionately nicknamed "Pinny." However, unlike his father, little Eugene's gift was less conventional. His skill was not in composing poetry but actually in reproducing the writing style of other people, especially that of Abraham Lincoln.

Eugene Field II
Eugene Field II

Between the 1920s and late 1930s, Eugene II was known to have forged Lincoln's signature in many books that had been previously owned by his grandfather. The forged volumes, which he sold off to dealers and collectors often read, "This is my book/Abraham Lincoln," or other inscriptions with similar phrasing. Hamilton stated that although Eugene's forgeries were brilliantly executed, they lacked credence simply because, "Lincoln would never have penned so childish and egotistical a statement."

Nevertheless, Eugene profited greatly from his counterfeit signatures and sometime during the 1920s or 30s he entered into a partnership with another fraudster named Harry D. Sickles. Together the men forged countless documents and signatures and sold them for large sums of money. It was believed that Harry and Eugene falsified more than 100 Lincoln documents. They were also known to have forged numerous documents and signatures of other famous figures such as, Rudyard Kipling, Theodore Roosevelt and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), as well as several others. The men continued producing forgeries up until the 1940s and were never formally charged for their illegal reproductions. Only one other person surpassed Harry and Eugene's skillful Lincoln replications, a man named Charles Weisberg.

Harry and Eugene's Lincoln forgeries
Harry and Eugene's Lincoln forgeries

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