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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 44, October 16, 2005, Article 20

FORGER MARK HOFMANN, TWENTY YEARS LATER

A great article in the Deseret Morning News, Saturday,
October 15, 2005 profiles Mark Hofmann, the notorious
forger and murderer who faked coins, currency, and a great
deal of documents related to the Mormon church (the church
of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS).

"Twenty years ago today, one of the most bizarre chapters in
Utah history began when a nondescript man wearing a high
school letterman's jacket and carrying a package went into the
Judge Building and took the elevator to the sixth floor.

The two murders Mark Hofmann committed that bright October
day were cold-blooded, clumsy attempts to divert attention from
his life's work  hundreds of forgeries and lies that tampered with
LDS and American history. For years, it turned out, Hofmann had
been producing phony signatures and documents and photos and
coins, successfully convincing handwriting experts and forgery
detection machines that all of it was authentic.

The reach of his forgeries  from Emily Dickinson to Mark
Twain, George Washington to Joseph Smith  and the
cunning with which he tricked a nation's document collectors
continue to intrigue authors and investigators. So far, seven
books have been written about him. This weekend, yet another
symposium is being held to analyze his crimes, as forensic
document examiners from 33 states gather in Salt Lake City
to talk about the arcane details of ink and paper.

Meanwhile, Hofmann's forgeries and counterfeiting are still
leaving their mark. His doctored documents continue to surface
and are sometimes sold as originals even when there is proof
that they're "Hofmanns." Two years ago, a penny Hofmann
claims he altered sold for $48,300 at a Beverly Hills auction."

"If I can produce something so correctly, so perfect that the
experts declare it genuine, then for all practical purposes it is
genuine," Hofmann once told his former prison guard, Charles
Larson, author of "Numismatic Forgery." In Hofmann's mind,
if it was a perfect forgery, no one was being deceived.

"He has little or no conscience," his former friend, Shannon
Flynn, said. "He doesn't think about things in moral terms, like
punishment by God. . . . He believes in a sense we just live in
a biological system," where a murder is the equivalent of a lion
killing a water buffalo, simply for survival, Flynn says. "He
killed those people to survive, to get out of it. Things were
closing in on him. His forgeries were very close to being found
out."

"Was he the best forger  or at least the best forger who was
caught  in the past 1,200 years?"

"While most forgers specialize in, say, Abraham Lincoln,
Hofmann could do 86 signatures. He made his own ink,
created his coins and currency, fashioned his own postmarks."

To read the complete story, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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