George Washington's forgery is a common, but almost always recognizable, diligent and experienced document examiner. Several individuals have become quite famous in the process of forging Washington's letters and documents. Most notable are the forgeries like Joseph Cosey and Robert Spring who have earned a reputation as notorious forgers of Washington manuscripts and autographs.
Joseph Cosey enjoyed the frauds of autograph dealers and sold them letters and documents that he claims were signed by Washington and many other well-known Americans. Cosey was a master at counterfeiting, often using laid paper and iron-based greases commonly used in the late 1700s.
Cosey's fabrications included warrants with forged signatures of Aaron Burr and George Washington on the same document. Handwritten Washington letters from Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War drafted by Cosey may be difficult to discern from credible examples.
Perhaps Cosey's bravest forgery was the complete draft of the Declaration of Independence simulated by the hand of Thomas Jefferson. Cosey's forged Declaration of Independence was sold as a fake in 1969 for $ 425.00. Cosey's imitation was stunning because it seemed to be a true blueprint.
Robert Spring is also known as one of the best forgers in Washington's manuscript and autograph. Although Spring forged the signatures of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones, and Horatio Nelson, he is infamously known for Washington's fictitious letters and documents.
It is ironic that the fakes of Cosey and Spring themselves have become collectibles. Over the years, they have jumped to values. A Washington Revolutionary War Pass, forged by Robert Spring, was sold in the 1860s to an autograph dealer in Philadelphia for $ 15; now worth over $ 1000.
The handwritten counterfeit Washington checks that Robert Spring sold in 1863 for $ 10 each now sell for more than $ 1,200. The book Money secrets reveals key features that differentiate Washington's authentic checks from those forged by Robert Spring.
The falsifications of George Washington by Joseph Cosey or Robert Spring can be very valuable in their own unusual way. However, letters handwritten and signed by Cosey or Spring are quite rare and are sought after by collectors because of their reputation as leading imitators of Washington holographs and other illustrious Americans.