Martin’s Bio

Testing the Expert

Jim Carnes

Bob Hillier

Herb Spiegel

Ellen Hodges

Katherine Kish

Between the Lines

Corrections or additions?

Tales from the Script

Handwriting expert Renee Martin can identify a forger and a good executive a mile away. But would you want her to analyze your resume?

This story by Bart Jackson was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

Wednesday, March 11, 1998. All rights reserved.

Six hundred thousand dollars in dark chips ease out

onto the bright green felt. The croupier’s practiced hand spins the

wheel and with a flick sets the ball on its course. The sheik watches

intently, sheltered by the plush velvet cord Bally’s reserves for

its highest rollers. The ball lands — Bally’s gains another


our sheik scribbles a marker, and stalks off.

Delicately but firmly the matter of collection is approached. The

sheik claims he was intoxicated last night and never signed those

markers — this is not his signature. Bally’s quickly refers the

matter to Renee Martin. It is all so elementary. Martin finds the

sheik’s mistake: he had signed a dinner check earlier that evening.

It was a quick, easy, and absolute match. The sheik had to pay.

Over four decades of proven expertise in signature verification and

handwriting analysis have given Renee Martin a national reputation.

Her court testimony stands above reproach. Against her, it is wiser

to fold your tent.

Few clients who come to Questioned Documents’ office at 20 Nassau

Street in Princeton lay matters of such high finance before Renee

Martin, but for each, it is equally vital. Early last month a Mercer

County man brought in his father’s will. To it was clipped an alleged

power of attorney that switched the terms, funneling all the father’s

wealth to the remaining seven siblings. Martin’s recent testimony

in the Trenton court proved that the will and the power of attorney

were not signed by the same hand.

"This forger should have gone to school in Italy," laughs

Martin. "The man who signed the will did." Her hands roam

restlessly around a massive desk littered with files and papers. The

walls hold a patchwork of posters: signatures blown up 800 percent,

arrows blatantly elucidating flaws in the forgeries. Even I can spot

the crooks.

"Ah here, now look," she flips open a small book. "This

is Italian writing." My eyes study the long, flowing letters —

flowery, yet controlled. "See? It’s just like Italians. Now


she flips pages "is the German. Note the strong, sharp angles;

precise, definite crosses."

Every person’s handwriting, Martin explains, is a blend

of this nature and nurture. Each of us learns script in school. For

the first few years we painfully copy the letters as our American,

German or Italian system models them for us. Then we graduate and

spend the rest of our lives straying from this prescribed pattern

as dictated by our own individual personality. Our writing becomes

a physical and psychic thumbprint that we cannot shed even when it

serves our purposes.

Recently a Princeton contractor sought Martin’s scrutiny of a service

order. A client had faxed the signed order for additional work and

then balked after its completion. "I never authorized such work,

This is not my handwriting. You are trying to con me," came the

client’s indignant cry.

Under her 45-power microscope Martin studied the client’s previous

service orders and this current one. The man had tried amateurishly

to disguise his signature so he could deny it later. He used the old

tricks of changing the style of his capitals, the slant of the other

letters. They worked as well as a phony mustache.

For a trained graphologist, three quarters of all document


are obvious and immediate. Judges and juries can swiftly follow


pointer and through her trained eyes discern the differences. For

this reason, graphologists, unlike doctors, rarely battle it out on

the witness stand, staking reputations against each other. One of

her favorite court appearances was depicting a nephew’s attempt

at his aunt’s signature which he had only misspelled "a


"Every forger," Martin is fond of saying, "is trying to

don a coat too small." One cannot study the unstudied. Regardless

of how labored the content, your own script is casually written. The

smoothness is natural, the flow from letter to letter continuous and

the spacing between each falls evenly.

The forger’s hand, however, is finely concentrated on emulating the

shape of each individual letter, "the trait most often


Thus the flow must invariably be broken. The lack of cohesion becomes

increasingly evident as he sweats over each piece. Speed, therefore,

is another element beyond the ability of virtually all imitators.

And finally, even if the forger manages to slip his artistry by and

emulate all the above elements, he will probably fold under the


test. Each person alters the pressure of his hand at certain letters

and junctures. This host of variations reflect thoughts and emotions

only of the original writer.

Ah, but what about the pros — those great paper hangers who con

millions with the stroke of a phony signature? In reality, a true

con’s expertise comes in avoiding Martin’s scrutiny. The forger goes

to the bank at its busiest hours and picks the most harried teller.

She arranges for shills to create a disturbance when the signing takes

place — anything to avoid it ending up on the desk of Questioned

Documents. Martin knows all the tricks, but even she admits she could

probably not fool another certified document examiner.

So has Renee Martin ever been fooled? "How would I know?"

she smiles. "Nothing in life is absolute. I’ve had some close

calls. Granted, one was a pro who’d been falsifying paper since ’85.

But the other was a nephew. A first timer just seeking his share of

uncle’s will. That’s what I love about this job . . . you never


Martin’s jovial manner, snow white hair, and full figure may not match

the lean, hawklike visage of a Baker Street sleuth, yet they share

many of the same methods. Over her 40 years in the trade, she has

committed to memory scores of ink types, paper styles, and individual

water marks. A quick glance at these clues affords her a host of


deduced leads.

And such obsession with detail is the graphologist’s greatest tool.

Renee Martin focuses on me with that tax-auditor’s stare. If I were

a document, I’d squirm. "A stubbornness, precise nature, ability

to notice detail, and an endless willingness to pursue." she

ticks off the traits of her profession. "These are what a


needs most."

Top Of Page
Martin’s Bio

Raised in Brooklyn, the daughter of an upholsterer and a seamstress,

Martin grew up studying the handwriting columns that were then in

vogue in New York’s daily newspapers. After graduating from high


in 1946 and starting a family (she’s the mother of four grown


Martin carried her interest in graphology one step further. In 1955

she became an active member of the American Graphological Society.

(She later became certified with the American College of Forensic


When her then husband was transferred to a job in Princeton Martin

moved to East Windsor. She began grabbing various jobs with various

document examiners and handwriting experts. Some few brief, informal

seminars and workshops existed, but for Renee Martin expertise had

to be primarily self-taught. Her first book "Your Script is


was a serious but readable approach to handwriting analysis that gave

Martin her first public exposure.

In 1960, Martin hung out her own shingle "Handwriting


(forerunner of Questioned Documents). With it came the endless


for reputation. Martin’s knowledge could usher her into court, but

it did not bring lawyers banging at her door begging for her


expertise to save their clients.

Like all infant businesses, Handwriting Consultants slogged slowly

uphill at the beginning. But if you are very good at what you do,

the doors usually open and they did for Martin. Within a few years,

solicitors were banging on her door continually. Juries were impressed

by her rock hard evidence delivered with a casual unshakeable


The word got around: Renee Martin was a winner, a good one to hire.

A flood of writings gave credibility to her career.


— a step-by-step examination of handwriting analysis, came out

in 1972. On the script identification branch of graphology, such


as "Writing of the Aged," "Typewriter Identification,"

"Spurious Changes" helped forge a hard-won national


In the early 1970s she set up her office at 20 Nassau Street. In 1979,

Martin joined with fellow graphologist Phyllis Cook and founded the

National Association of Document Examiners. The goal was to set


for the profession and make sure that new comers would receive more

formal training than had been available to Martin.

Today Questioned Documents’ Nassau Street office stands heaped with

papers each requesting Martin’s expert decisions at a cost of from

$75 to $100 per hour. Trump Taj Mahal, Dow Jones and Robert Gorman,

the lawyer down the street, all call. "She makes a good


notes Gorman for whom Martin has repeatedly testified. "She’s

so credible and sincere."

Carol Hugho, manager of Princeton’s Avalon Properties, agrees that

she’s seldom seen anyone so comfortable or competent on the stand.

"You can tell she really loves the work."

Fine, so Martin can gun down a forger at 20 paces. But does this


make her mistress of my emotions as well? Can she accurately prepare

a list of my personal traits? And can my boss justifiably hire her

to tattle that list to him when I’m up for promotion?

"Fraud" cry some skeptics the instant graphology steps beyond

the basic wing of script identification into actual handwriting


Renee Martin is the first to admit that graphology, like medicine,

is an art, not a science. There is a safety in science. Any lab


anywhere who repeats an experiment exactingly will come to the same

conclusion — every time. No threat, no unknown. But art entails

skill — that enigmatic hand of the artist. We are uncomfortable

with skill. It evokes jealousy, and demands trust that the artist

isn’t conning us with hoopla. So we seek ever to debunk doctors,


sculptors, and psychic friends on the phone.

And both sides shout loud in debate. Most U.S. Government officials

jibe at analysis and even identification. They nickname it


tossing it in the same noncredible ash can as phrenology and tea leaf

readings. They protest its legal standing.

However, in several Midwestern courts, recent juries have been asked

to give handwriting samples which are to help determine a juror’s

state of mind, drug intoxication, and level of duress. Also in the

Midwest, a growing number of large firms routinely ask job applicants

to solve problems in handwritten essays and then, quite quietly, turn

them over to graphologists for scrutiny. Among European companies

such hiring tools have gained great favor. But in the states, most

people not only deny the art, but object to the privacy invasion of

a corporation standing in judgment of one’s personality.

"Actually," Martin notes, "analysis of handwriting reveals

few mysteries and very few earth-shaking traits." Your script

will not uncover you as a secret child molester or predict love in

your future. It will show if you are writing under duress. But whether

it’s because you were stoned on crack or had a pistol to your


remains securely with you.

However, there are some basics, and they unfold most obviously in

those widely orbiting realms of men vs. women. "Protest all you

want, about the progress of feminism and Women’s Lib" smiles


"Women are raised differently and thus write differently. Girls

little and large are taught to please." They reap their greatest

rewards in society by close attention to the rules. ("Keep


that path, sister, and you’ll be VP in no time.") Quite naturally

their writing reveals this.

Girls’ writing is "neater;" that is, closer to that original

script we all learned in school. "The most difficult writings

to distinguish," claims Martin, "come from women who went

to Catholic girls’ schools." Several graduates of the parochial

system assure me that content always came second after penmanship.

Nuns and their rulers still hold mighty sway.

But a boy is not a man, society instructs, unless he breaks a few

rules and learns to stand tall as an individual. ("As a team


you’re a disaster, Sonny, but with your initiative and individuality

you’ll be a VP in no time.") As a result, men more frequently

develop personal flourishes, streaks and slashes which they like,

keep and make their own. They depart further from the rules of


It is not cut and dry, of course and the entire issue gets confused

by those handwriting hermaphrodites whose unhappiness with their


can be read amidst the lines. A CEO signs a letter differently to

his board than he scribbles a memo to a file clerk. Doctors’ legendary

illegible prescriptions indicate a total disregard of piddling


followup to their triumphant diagnosis and statement of cure.

The analysis of handwriting and the attempts to discern the character

behind the words is as old as writing itself. As early as l647 Camilea

Baidi in Bologna, Italy, began to compile types of scripted letters

and relate them to types of people. Several others soon followed suit.

By the mid-1800s until the present, the compilation has expanded


and so has the experts’ belief in what can be revealed.

While correlation is not proof, Martin claims that certain traits

can be seen within a single letter. Sensitivity shows in a fine


hand and light pressure on the page. Curiosity and intelligence show

traditionally in an egg-shaped letter "g." Ambiguity


abounds: large handwriting on a page may show a love of generalities

or it may indicate one’s unfamiliarity with the skill. Analysis is

after all an art, requiring the deft sympathy of an artist, not a

scientist translating from periodic tables.

The maxim one art aids another can currently be seen in graphology’s

very fruitful use in psychology. Herry O. Teltcher, an Austrian


in both fields, has been able to unearth a host of traits in his


that remained hidden or seemed irrelevant in the normal verbal


"You can read in 15 minutes a poignant tendency that might take

years to unfold through traditional methods," Martin notes.

So in the end, would I hire Martin to help my boss choose the best

executive? Martin claims she can save him six months by interpreting

such traits as organizational skills, ease of handling problems,


intelligence, whether the applicant is subjective, fair, aiming to

please, or is a loose cannon. So, my organized, prepared brain tells

me, now is the time for a test.

I beg Martin’s off-the-cuff scrutiny of my own scarcely legible hand.

She mentions attributes of generosity, love of the physical, anger

close to the surface, love of formality at unexpected times. "So

would I make a good executive?"

"Well, everyone’s executive style is different. . ."

Politely, I am being told to hit the bricks and seek day labor. The

moving finger has written. Ah well, this analysis stuff is probably

all bunk anyway. She’s probably making that all up. I think I’ll take

out my anger by cutting down a tree and giving the wood to the church

— in a fancy cart.

Top Of Page
Testing the Expert

Renee Martin graciously agreed to anaylze the


some Princeton "celebrities." We asked eight business people

to submit handwriting samples for Renee Martin to analyze. The first

sample — plucked from their files by an assistant — was to

be something already written, not written for Martin’s examination.

The second sample was to be a signature.

The way you sign your name, Martin points out, is your public persona,

the face you would like everyone to see. Indeed, the signature of

at least one of the subjects presents a slightly different picture

of his personality than his actual handwriting.

Martin picked six of the eight submissions. She did not know the


of these six subjects when she did her analysis of the samples. In

fact, she pegged one of the men as a woman and one of the women as

a man. Then she looked at the signatures and added comments based

on how the signatures were penned.

Top Of Page
Jim Carnes

James E. Carnes, president and CEO of the Sarnoff Corporation,

Penn State, Class of 1961.

Based on text: A dynamic, highly organized individual

with excellent planning abilities and judgment. Because of his


and abilities, he feels somewhat separated from other people, an


hazard for most of the highly intelligent. This writer is true to

himself and his goals. While he is interested in working with others,

he always keeps the goal in sight. He is a dreamer, actively trying

to make all things fall in as perfectly as he can with his ideals

and goals. Sometimes he feels that his dreams are too ephemeral and

he must control them. Because of this, he keeps his mind open to new

ideas and new potential, allowing himself the flexibility to change

direction if the results will be benefited.

Highly articulate, he can work with others in their own language to

explain purposes, etc. without losing his primary independent thought.

He can discuss almost any subject with others on their own level while

retaining his own information. He knows how much information to impart

no matter how much he learns.

He has an interesting sense of humor which sometimes turns dry,


surprising others with his perspicacity. He has a rare understanding

of masculine feminine drives which enables him to work equally well

with both sexes.

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Bob Hillier

J. Robert Hillier, president and CEO, the Hillier Group,

the nation’s third largest architectural firm, founded in 1966,

with 200 employees at Alexander Park. Princeton University, Class

of 1959.

Based on text: A highly artistic individual who loves

people and will do anything in the world for them, but maintains a

certain distance which will not allow others to do the same for him.

Mentally and physically active, he is not happy unless he is out


seeing, and doing. Always the inveterate romantic, he will do all

in his power to make everything OK for everyone.

This writer has excellent planning abilities, but often runs afoul

of his own emotional involvement getting in the way of his


He is dynamic and loves people, places and things. He is generous

to a fault, but when he is finished with something, that is the end!

He does not like to go back to situations with which he is finished.

This writer is highly intelligent and always willing to listen and

learn. He communicates what he feels is necessary to get the job done.

He is dependable, and the ones who work with him always benefit.

Based on signature: There is less communication, but more

artistry in the signature. The signature is pictorial: there is a

great beginning stroke showing the premeditation of all his


The final stroke which balances the beginning stroke shows that even

when he is finished with a project, he is still mentally making


on the one hand and looking forward with great anticipation to the


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Herb Spiegel

Herbert S. Spiegel, director, Mercer County Community

College’s Small Business Development Center; formerly owner of Herman

Spiegel Furniture.

Based on text: A highly intelligent, dynamic individual

who employs good judgment in most of his dealings, though there are

times when he allows his emotions to get in the way of that good


He is fairly outgoing and can be quite expansive with people. He has

a strong sense of responsibility, a good sense of his position in

life and can be easy going, managing to control a tendency to


Communication on his own terms is essential. He likes people and,

while highly idealistic, deals with people practically for the most

part. He may have a flash of intuition to which he will apply all

the pragmatic fools available to him. His unusual sense of humor is

almost joking with himself since not everyone is aware of it.

While he knows how to maintain good relationships with people,


a certain diplomacy, he can be argumentative (without being


certainly making his point when he feels necessary.

Based on signature: Herbert S. Spiegel. I secretly thought

that this writer was a prelate of some sort because of the high


Knowing who it is, I don’t take it back. He does preach Success!

Janet Lasley, founder and president of Lasley Construction

in Princeton Business Park, with 17 employees, founded in 1985.

Based on text: A highly organized individual with


uppermost in thinking. As successful and ambitious as this person

is, limitations are placed on self. The ability and the potential

is there, but a ceiling and a floor are placed on activities


the writer from reaching full capabilities. There is a strong sense

of responsibility, a great sense of humor and an idealism that make

it fun to work with her.

With excellent planning abilities and good judgment, she balances

her materialistic drive with a sincere desire to do the best she can

for the most people, no matter what the effort. Mentally and


active, she enjoys a challenge and pulls out all the stops when


on a project. Despite a streak of independence, she can subordinate

her individuality for the greater good, though I personally feel that

she’s happier working solo.

Based on signature: What you see is what you get. This

individual deals with everyone from the heart.

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Ellen Hodges

C. Ellen Hodges, president of the Chamber of Commerce

of the Princeton Area since 1974.


Based on text: The key word here is "charm." A

true people person, this writer hides behind her sensitivity by being

there for everyone and disguising her natural shyness by covering

all aspects of anything on which she concentrates. This writer is

highly artistic and musical, and never allows her temperament to take

hold of any situation in which she is involved. Balancing her idealism

with everyday practicality is her stock in trade.

To those who look no further, this writer is a gem who completes her

part of any situation intelligently and as perfectly as is humanly

possible. She is highly articulate, enjoying the average conversation

with all types. She also knows how to recast the facts to the best

advantage of all involved.

Based on signature: Another case of what you see is what

you get. Perhaps her big secret is her first name.

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Katherine Kish

Katherine M. Kish, partner in Market Entry (a marketing

firm) and Racioppi/Kish (a diversity training firm), graduate of


College and Antioch, founded in 1982, based on George Davison Road

in Cranbury.

Based on text: If I were to select someone to edit and

oversee the proper completion of tasks, I would choose this person.

An intelligent, alert individual who is not afraid of hard work and

enjoys a mental challenge as well as a physical one, this writer


emotional involvement to rule activities. In most situations, this

is a patient person, not being afraid of working towards a goal,


individually or with a group. There are periods of impatience,


and the drive to do something meaningful is uppermost in this person’s

thinking. Most impatience is evident when something material is in

the offing — she wants it yesterday! Good sense often prevails,

however and she will patiently go through all the steps necessary

to make the desired goal a fact.

There is an unusual ability to employ masculine drives as well as

feminine sensitivity.

Based on signature: Her signature is like the rest of

her writing except for giving the impression of great self-confidence,

which the rest of her writing does not reflect. This is not to imply

that she is a shrinking violet, just that in order to impress others

with her abilities, she feels she must do more self-promotion than

she really enjoys.

Top Of Page
Between the Lines

Gods of the printing presses willing, the 1998-’99 edition

of our annual U.S. 1 Business Directory will be delivered to your

office next Wednesday, March 18. That means that one free copy of

the directory will be delivered to every office on our delivery lists

— nearly 4,500 different businesses. It also means that the Directory

will be for sale in our offices and — soon — in bookstores

at the regular low price of $12.95, or $15.95 if you ask us to mail

it to you.

That’s what it means but like a lot of things in life, it can also

get a little complicated. The day after we deliver the directory one

or more people will walk into our office and ask where their free

directory is. They got one last year, they will say, but they didn’t

get one this year.

The sad answer is that after that fateful Wednesday, there are no

more free directories. By definition, free directories are free on

one day of the year only. After that they cost.

This is not our policy but our boss’s, who instituted it to end the

bickering over whether or not a particular person should or should

not pay for a book. We thought the policy was harsh, but then we compared

our book to the other directories typically available. At $12.95,

with 5,100 listings in 186 categories crammed into 272 pages, our

book is not only comprehensive but also — dare we use the word?

— cheap. If you would like to order one by mail, see the order

form on page 47 of this issue.

If you know any of the people whose handwriting was

analyzed as part of Bart Jackson’s cover story beginning on page 16

of this issue, you may or may not agree that there is some insight

to be gained from how we scrawl the written word across a piece of

paper. On the one hand our editors seemed typically skeptical of the

process. On the other, when asked to participate in the process by

submitting samples to handwriting expert Renee Martin they all demurred.

Barbara Fox explained that she would really like to do it, but felt

that it was more appropriate to ask Richard K. Rein to go first. He,

in turn, had some quick excuse about covering the news, not making


So no one from U.S. 1 appears in the handwriting lineup appearing

in this issue. But that doesn’t mean that you should be denied the

chance to perform some armchair graphology. The names scrawled below

correspond to the list in the staff box to the left. What kind of

people edit this newspaper? As always, your opinions are welcomed.

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

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