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Font Detective: The Secret of the Certificate

Having attacked documents that threatened to topple a president and prop up a prime minister, Thomas Phinney is no stranger to high stakes. But, this was his first case involving an art object he saw at a famous museum. A unique certificate under glass was evidence that the provenance was one one of the world’s most valuable art objects. How was the document created, and with what typeface and what medium of reproduction? What does the typography tell us about the document’s likely authenticity? Phinney shares his biggest blunder in the investigation and lessons learned along the way.


Thomas Phinney

Font detective, expert witness, type designer, consultant, writer Font Detective LLC

Thomas Phinney is a type designer and former CEO of FontLab. In the 2000s, Phinney helped drive the adoption of OpenType within Adobe and in the marketplace. Phinney developed character set standards for Adobe, and designed the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic typefaces hypatia sans, cristoforo and science gothic. Phinney has four patents and a master’s degree in printing and typography from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he completed his thesis on technical challenges in multiple master font technology. Phinney has been on the board of ATypI since 2004. Blog: www.thomasphinney.com