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Did Bury write Openshaw?

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  • Did Bury write Openshaw?

    This may be something or perhaps nothing but, as with From Hell, there are some curious similarities between Bury’s handwriting in ‘From Ellen’ and the Openshaw Letter (see comparison images below). In all cases Bury on the left, Openshaw right. Commentary text below.

    Bs:
    Bury consistently does a joined-up lower-case b that is open at bottom and has a strong horizontal stroke joining the next letter – there are examples of this in Openshaw.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bury Bs.png Views:	0 Size:	53.5 KB ID:	785122

    Ds:
    now this is interesting. In his salutation of ‘dear’ in From Ellen the d is very unusual looking and embellished and it looks a hell of a lot like the D for doctor on Openshaw envelope. There is a slight difference, but I think that is because in From Ellen the d of dear is joined-up where in Openshaw it is stand alone.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bury Ds.png Views:	0 Size:	43.9 KB ID:	785123

    Ps:
    Bury does a very distinctive and quite angry looking p with a rather exaggerated vertical bar and angular back sweep. Although there is a lot of variation in Openshaw, you can see similar in the Ps of ‘coppers’ and elsewhere. In the middle set you can just see the same sweeping connection that Bury nearly always does in the join to 'e' in the Openshaw example.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bury Ps1.png Views:	0 Size:	51.7 KB ID:	785124
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Ps2.png Views:	0 Size:	44.0 KB ID:	785125

    Rs:
    although these are pretty much identical in both, caution is needed because many of the joined up Rs in Openshaw are classic stylized Victorian handwriting. This does beg the question, why is someone with a hand that looks like a village idiot using letters of an educated person that conform to stylistic norms of the times? The same trait is evident in From Hell with the letters that look so much like Bury’s. The answer is provided in the many texts on disguised handwriting – an accomplished and neat writer can easily pull-off the idiot look and this is indeed one of the go to methods of disguise. On the other hand, someone with fundamentally bad handwriting would find it impossible to imitate neat handwriting.
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bury Rs.png Views:	0 Size:	43.4 KB ID:	785126

    Now anyone can suggest their suspect of interest wrote a ripper letter, but with Bury there is more to go on. Aged 16 Bury was working as a factor’s clerk – this required the ability to write neatly, spell accurately and copy text into ledgers. I can’t imagine there were many 16 year olds doing this in the 1870s. By this time Bury must have been something an accomplished hand and this may provide indirect evidence to back up the Rev Gough’s opinion that Bury was ‘very intelligent’. Bury also forged a copper-plate style letter to con Ellen into leaving the east end. Bottom line is, Bury had the skills to pull off the necessary disguise for From Hell and Openshaw, both of which have the same comedy misspelling whilst giving away their secrets in the neat stylized areas.

    I’m pretty sure everyone else will disagree, but I reckon Bury wrote from Hell and Openshaw. Also bear in mind From Hell relates to Eddowes – Bury mutilated his wife’s genitals in a way that was described in a virtually identical fashion by two different medical men at other ends of the country. He is the only suspect that carried out a sexually motivated murder. He slept with a penknife under his pillow, used prostitutes, was violent and abusive, fits many descriptions of the ripper, fits virtually every aspect of the FBI profile of the killer (except letter writing of course - I think the key here is Bury was a clever man who wanted to show his superiority).
    Last edited by Aethelwulf; 04-27-2022, 09:21 PM.

  • #2
    Cool stuff!

    M.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Aethelwulf View Post
      This may be something or perhaps nothing but, as with From Hell, there are some curious similarities between Bury’s handwriting in ‘From Ellen’ and the Openshaw Letter (see comparison images below). In all cases Bury on the left, Openshaw right. Commentary text below.

      Bs:
      Bury consistently does a joined-up lower-case b that is open at bottom and has a strong horizontal stroke joining the next letter – there are examples of this in Openshaw.

      Click image for larger version Name:	Bury Bs.png Views:	0 Size:	53.5 KB ID:	785122



      Well, in cursive writing, a lower case b is supposed to be formed open at the bottom, and it joins the next letter as shown, so both letters are just showing the standard letter formation. What is different, however, is that Bury's script (on the left) has a strong slant to the letter while the Openshaw's "b" are much more vertical. Also note, in 2 of the 3 examples where b is the first letter, Bury appears to start his b at the very top, omitting the loop, while in the Openshaw letter there appears to be a weak loop although it's closed up. Regardless, it looks like the pen started about 1/2 way down, goes up to the top, then back down to form the main vertical stroke in both cases. So while Bury does start in the "correct" place in the last example, the initial upstroke is well left of the main vertical - it's supposed to sort of cross over the main vertical and form an elongated loop at the top of the letter.


      Ds:
      now this is interesting. In his salutation of ‘dear’ in From Ellen the d is very unusual looking and embellished and it looks a hell of a lot like the D for doctor on Openshaw envelope. There is a slight difference, but I think that is because in From Ellen the d of dear is joined-up where in Openshaw it is stand alone.

      Click image for larger version Name:	Bury Ds.png Views:	0 Size:	43.9 KB ID:	785123



      Again, Bury has a much more definite tilt to his D, and he starts the vertical with an upstroke while the Openshaw letter's D starts at the top and comes down, no initial upstroke. The upper case letters in cursive tend to be fancier formations, and these could just be examples of the "proper" letter formation as taught in school at that time. It's a bit different fancier than the upper case D I was taught, but not too much.


      Ps:
      Bury does a very distinctive and quite angry looking p with a rather exaggerated vertical bar and angular back sweep. Although there is a lot of variation in Openshaw, you can see similar in the Ps of ‘coppers’ and elsewhere. In the middle set you can just see the same sweeping connection that Bury nearly always does in the join to 'e' in the Openshaw example.

      Click image for larger version Name:	Bury Ps1.png Views:	0 Size:	51.7 KB ID:	785124
      Click image for larger version Name:	Ps2.png Views:	0 Size:	44.0 KB ID:	785125


      Not sure what you mean by angry looking p's, but the in cursive the lower case p is formed by starting with that initial stroke to the left, and the "exit" is supposed to be at the bottom of the p's "circle" which then flows into the next letter, just as Bury does. However, in the Openshaw letter, only one of the p's is actually linked to the next letter in a smooth stroke. In the first double p, the 2nd p looks to have been started after a pen lift (a no-no in cursive writing, the whole point is to continue to flow from one letter to the next with no lifting of the pen, apart from to go back and cross your t's and dot your i's after you've finished the entire word. And again, we see the characteristic slant in Bury's letter formation, and the characteristic vertical aspect to the letters in the Openshaw.


      Rs:
      although these are pretty much identical in both, caution is needed because many of the joined up Rs in Openshaw are classic stylized Victorian handwriting. This does beg the question, why is someone with a hand that looks like a village idiot using letters of an educated person that conform to stylistic norms of the times? The same trait is evident in From Hell with the letters that look so much like Bury’s. The answer is provided in the many texts on disguised handwriting – an accomplished and neat writer can easily pull-off the idiot look and this is indeed one of the go to methods of disguise. On the other hand, someone with fundamentally bad handwriting would find it impossible to imitate neat handwriting.
      Click image for larger version Name:	Bury Rs.png Views:	0 Size:	43.4 KB ID:	785126
      A lower case cursive r has a little loop on the upper left corner, so the fact that both show that is neither here nor there. Bury forms his cross stroke at a downward angle, while the Openshaw letter has an upward slant. Bury's exit stroke is at a reduced angle compared to the Openshaw letter, but that could simply reflect the fact that in Bury's letter he is flowing into another letter while in the Openshaw letter the r is the last letter of the word, so the exit stroke will differ.


      Now anyone can suggest their suspect of interest wrote a ripper letter, but with Bury there is more to go on. Aged 16 Bury was working as a factor’s clerk – this required the ability to write neatly, spell accurately and copy text into ledgers. I can’t imagine there were many 16 year olds doing this in the 1870s. By this time Bury must have been something an accomplished hand and this may provide indirect evidence to back up the Rev Gough’s opinion that Bury was ‘very intelligent’. Bury also forged a copper-plate style letter to con Ellen into leaving the east end. Bottom line is, Bury had the skills to pull off the necessary disguise for From Hell and Openshaw, both of which have the same comedy misspelling whilst giving away their secrets in the neat stylized areas.

      I’m pretty sure everyone else will disagree, but I reckon Bury wrote from Hell and Openshaw. Also bear in mind From Hell relates to Eddowes – Bury mutilated his wife’s genitals in a way that was described in a virtually identical fashion by two different medical men at other ends of the country. He is the only suspect that carried out a sexually motivated murder. He slept with a penknife under his pillow, used prostitutes, was violent and abusive, fits many descriptions of the ripper, fits virtually every aspect of the FBI profile of the killer (except letter writing of course - I think the key here is Bury was a clever man who wanted to show his superiority).
      While I'm not an expert in handwriting, what it looks like to me is that we have two people who have been taught the same "hand", so both will form their letters following the same template. However, Bury's penmanship is characterised by a strong slant to his letter formation while the Openshaw's penmanship is far more vertically aligned. Also, Bury shows far fewer pen lifts being employed. The starting position for initial letters also appear to differ between the samples.

      I'm not a handwriting expert by any means but to me it looks more like we have examples from different people who have both undergone a similar school system.

      - Jeff

      Comment


      • #4
        Yes I noticed the slant. However, like you I'm not an expert on this but reading some of the texts on the subject of disguise the very first thing an author will usually change is the slant/slope. One of the others is to use a grotesque hand, can't really see that here but I think it's evident in From Hell. Most of Openshaw looks like some idiot that can barely write wrote it, others are standard and neat, like the D, which as I noted is a odd as it seems a bad handwriter couldn't do that. Same occurs in From hell. The other that thing looks fishy about Openshaw is that the misspellings which are phonetically correct are so well done they make me think the author would have had to know how to spell correctly if that makes sense.

        Also, if the ripper was intent on sending a missive he would want to make sure it got to the correct person/address. So the Openshaw author writes 'dror' for draw 'rite' for right and 'nife' for knife in the body of the letter but then although using a scruffy hand spells 'pathological' correctly and 'hospital' where it the h is dropped i the main letter. Also curator is correct. I think we're looking at an otherwise good speller masquerading as a fool.

        Either way, no handwriting expert would ever put their name to any similarities because I think most of it is very heavily disguised. The differences you note are actually quite small and if the writer was disguising their hand, well
        Last edited by Aethelwulf; 04-28-2022, 06:47 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post

          Well, in cursive writing, a lower case b is supposed to be formed open at the bottom, and it joins the next letter as shown, so both letters are just showing the standard letter formation. What is different, however, is that Bury's script (on the left) has a strong slant to the letter while the Openshaw's "b" are much more vertical. Also note, in 2 of the 3 examples where b is the first letter, Bury appears to start his b at the very top, omitting the loop, while in the Openshaw letter there appears to be a weak loop although it's closed up. Regardless, it looks like the pen started about 1/2 way down, goes up to the top, then back down to form the main vertical stroke in both cases. So while Bury does start in the "correct" place in the last example, the initial upstroke is well left of the main vertical - it's supposed to sort of cross over the main vertical and form an elongated loop at the top of the letter.



          Again, Bury has a much more definite tilt to his D, and he starts the vertical with an upstroke while the Openshaw letter's D starts at the top and comes down, no initial upstroke. The upper case letters in cursive tend to be fancier formations, and these could just be examples of the "proper" letter formation as taught in school at that time. It's a bit different fancier than the upper case D I was taught, but not too much.


          Not sure what you mean by angry looking p's, but the in cursive the lower case p is formed by starting with that initial stroke to the left, and the "exit" is supposed to be at the bottom of the p's "circle" which then flows into the next letter, just as Bury does. However, in the Openshaw letter, only one of the p's is actually linked to the next letter in a smooth stroke. In the first double p, the 2nd p looks to have been started after a pen lift (a no-no in cursive writing, the whole point is to continue to flow from one letter to the next with no lifting of the pen, apart from to go back and cross your t's and dot your i's after you've finished the entire word. And again, we see the characteristic slant in Bury's letter formation, and the characteristic vertical aspect to the letters in the Openshaw.


          A lower case cursive r has a little loop on the upper left corner, so the fact that both show that is neither here nor there. Bury forms his cross stroke at a downward angle, while the Openshaw letter has an upward slant. Bury's exit stroke is at a reduced angle compared to the Openshaw letter, but that could simply reflect the fact that in Bury's letter he is flowing into another letter while in the Openshaw letter the r is the last letter of the word, so the exit stroke will differ.



          While I'm not an expert in handwriting, what it looks like to me is that we have two people who have been taught the same "hand", so both will form their letters following the same template. However, Bury's penmanship is characterised by a strong slant to his letter formation while the Openshaw's penmanship is far more vertically aligned. Also, Bury shows far fewer pen lifts being employed. The starting position for initial letters also appear to differ between the samples.

          I'm not a handwriting expert by any means but to me it looks more like we have examples from different people who have both undergone a similar school system.

          - Jeff
          Some text I mentioned on disguised handwriting that I think could apply well here and with From Hell. Taken from a PhD by Lafone (2014) (https://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint...-Ward14PhD.pdf)

          Slant alteration
          One of the most obvious features of an individual’s handwriting,’ Jamieson (1983) maintains, ‘is its slope or slant’ (p.117), and any changes made to this element of handwriting will significantly alter its appearance. The slant of a handwriting is one of its most prominent characteristics, and is for many writers, Osborn (1946) notes, ‘one of the most fixed of habits’ (p.144). Being such a pronounced and singularly characteristic feature, it is unsurprising that slant should be a favourite target for disguise. Indeed, many commentators, including Halder-Sinn (1992), Slyter (1995), Nickell (1996) and Koppenhaver (2007), agree with Dines (1998) when he states that a marked alteration of the slope or slant of a writing ‘is the favourite, and most common method, of disguise’ (p.278, italics added).

          Adoption of Careless or Unskilled Writing

          It is a well-established principle in the field of forensic handwriting identification that it is not possible for a person to write in a hand more skilled than his or her normal handwriting (Hooten 1990, p.18; Harrison 1966, p.352); but it is also a fact that ‘a skilful hand can very easily pretend to write in an awkward or unskilled manner’ (Hooten, p.18). The anecdotal literature is in general agreement that a common method of disguise is ‘simply to write with a deliberate carelessness or sloppiness’ (Nickell, 1996, p.49). Robertson (1991), Alford and Dick (1978) agree that to adopt a skill in writing that is less than the writer actually possesses is, in fact, one of the ‘most common’ methods of disguise (Robertson, p.245; Alford and Dick, p.421). By writing carelessly or clumsily, the writer will introduce to the text features that are illegible or distorted in an attempt to create evidence of a ‘nearilliterate’ writer (Ellen, 1997, p.32). Feigning deliberate carelessness as a handwriting disguise is, Nickell suggests, often done in the belief that this will make identification of the author difficult or impossible to accomplish (p.49).

          I think the sloppy style of openshaw and from hell and misspellings take alongside the neat highly stylised Victorian sections certainly align with the above IMO.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Aethelwulf View Post

            Some text I mentioned on disguised handwriting that I think could apply well here and with From Hell. Taken from a PhD by Lafone (2014) (https://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint...-Ward14PhD.pdf)

            Slant alteration
            One of the most obvious features of an individual’s handwriting,’ Jamieson (1983) maintains, ‘is its slope or slant’ (p.117), and any changes made to this element of handwriting will significantly alter its appearance. The slant of a handwriting is one of its most prominent characteristics, and is for many writers, Osborn (1946) notes, ‘one of the most fixed of habits’ (p.144). Being such a pronounced and singularly characteristic feature, it is unsurprising that slant should be a favourite target for disguise. Indeed, many commentators, including Halder-Sinn (1992), Slyter (1995), Nickell (1996) and Koppenhaver (2007), agree with Dines (1998) when he states that a marked alteration of the slope or slant of a writing ‘is the favourite, and most common method, of disguise’ (p.278, italics added).

            Adoption of Careless or Unskilled Writing

            It is a well-established principle in the field of forensic handwriting identification that it is not possible for a person to write in a hand more skilled than his or her normal handwriting (Hooten 1990, p.18; Harrison 1966, p.352); but it is also a fact that ‘a skilful hand can very easily pretend to write in an awkward or unskilled manner’ (Hooten, p.18). The anecdotal literature is in general agreement that a common method of disguise is ‘simply to write with a deliberate carelessness or sloppiness’ (Nickell, 1996, p.49). Robertson (1991), Alford and Dick (1978) agree that to adopt a skill in writing that is less than the writer actually possesses is, in fact, one of the ‘most common’ methods of disguise (Robertson, p.245; Alford and Dick, p.421). By writing carelessly or clumsily, the writer will introduce to the text features that are illegible or distorted in an attempt to create evidence of a ‘nearilliterate’ writer (Ellen, 1997, p.32). Feigning deliberate carelessness as a handwriting disguise is, Nickell suggests, often done in the belief that this will make identification of the author difficult or impossible to accomplish (p.49).

            I think the sloppy style of openshaw and from hell and misspellings take alongside the neat highly stylised Victorian sections certainly align with the above IMO.
            Sure, but then, those would apply to whomever wrote the Openshaw letter, it doesn't mean that writing that looks different from Bury's must be Bury's writing in disguise! While one might alter the slant, and be more sloppy, I would think some aspects are more automatic, like where one starts the letter formations and those appear to differ. So while the handwriting might be disguised, it still has aspects that seem to point away from Bury given who ever wrote the Openshaw letter appears to have different habits as to where they put the pen to start their letter. You can disguise the slant as you "draw" a letter, and do it with less care, but one i still going to follow the basic pattern of "start here, go up, etc...". Again, the font was standard and everyone was taught to form their letters similarly, and so there will be some similarities due to that. There are some other differences in how they form the p's, for example. Bury does it proper with the tiny loop inside the p's circle, but the Openshaw letter writer does not do that. I think, if I recall correctly, they will look at other more ingrained habits as well, like heights of the ascenders/descenders and letter spacing and so forth. That requires seeing the whole text of course, and the knowledge of what to do with it!

            And in the end, I'm not sure if the claim is that one can detect if handwriting has been disguised (meaning, if it doesn't match one's suspect one can still say "but it could be them") or if the claim is that it is possible to match disguised handwriting with a sample of a person's normal handwriting (i.e. this is clearly Mr. X's handwriting with a deliberate attempt to disguise it). The former doesn't help as that means it could be written by anybody. The latter, if that's supposed to be possible, would require someone with the expertise to do it. Also, I'm not entirely sure of the accuracy of handwriting analysis - how often do they declare a match or nonmatch incorrectly? I'm not suggesting it's chance or anything, I just don't know it's reliability. Any time I've searched, which isn't often, keeps turning up stuff on handwriting and personality traits, which isn't what we're talking about. We're just trying to determine if two pieces of writing were done by the same person, not divine the personality of the person who wrote something.

            - Jeff

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post

              Sure, but then, those would apply to whomever wrote the Openshaw letter, it doesn't mean that writing that looks different from Bury's must be Bury's writing in disguise! While one might alter the slant, and be more sloppy, I would think some aspects are more automatic, like where one starts the letter formations and those appear to differ. So while the handwriting might be disguised, it still has aspects that seem to point away from Bury given who ever wrote the Openshaw letter appears to have different habits as to where they put the pen to start their letter. You can disguise the slant as you "draw" a letter, and do it with less care, but one i still going to follow the basic pattern of "start here, go up, etc...". Again, the font was standard and everyone was taught to form their letters similarly, and so there will be some similarities due to that. There are some other differences in how they form the p's, for example. Bury does it proper with the tiny loop inside the p's circle, but the Openshaw letter writer does not do that. I think, if I recall correctly, they will look at other more ingrained habits as well, like heights of the ascenders/descenders and letter spacing and so forth. That requires seeing the whole text of course, and the knowledge of what to do with it!

              And in the end, I'm not sure if the claim is that one can detect if handwriting has been disguised (meaning, if it doesn't match one's suspect one can still say "but it could be them") or if the claim is that it is possible to match disguised handwriting with a sample of a person's normal handwriting (i.e. this is clearly Mr. X's handwriting with a deliberate attempt to disguise it). The former doesn't help as that means it could be written by anybody. The latter, if that's supposed to be possible, would require someone with the expertise to do it. Also, I'm not entirely sure of the accuracy of handwriting analysis - how often do they declare a match or nonmatch incorrectly? I'm not suggesting it's chance or anything, I just don't know it's reliability. Any time I've searched, which isn't often, keeps turning up stuff on handwriting and personality traits, which isn't what we're talking about. We're just trying to determine if two pieces of writing were done by the same person, not divine the personality of the person who wrote something.

              - Jeff
              Always good to have your thoughts as those of us that have a suspect in mind do tend to go off on our little flights of fancy! There is defo something of a circulate argument in the disguised handwriting line - if it is disguised how the hell do you know who wrote it (which is obviously what the author intended), other that cherry picking at bits and pieces. I should say all those habits you mentioned about beginnings and ends of stokes etc, they are all mentioned in that thesis as fair game for disguise, so back we go around the circle. One other thing about disguise I spotted as discussed in that thesis is an inconsistency in the same letters - look at the Ps in Openshaw I cited, no two are the same in form and slant etc.

              In the grand scheme of things, as reasons to be sus about Bury go this is small fry really, just a 'curiosity' as with the From Hell similarities. Should note though the chalk messages with stupid misspelling and words dropped.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Aethelwulf View Post

                Always good to have your thoughts as those of us that have a suspect in mind do tend to go off on our little flights of fancy! There is defo something of a circulate argument in the disguised handwriting line - if it is disguised how the hell do you know who wrote it (which is obviously what the author intended), other that cherry picking at bits and pieces. I should say all those habits you mentioned about beginnings and ends of stokes etc, they are all mentioned in that thesis as fair game for disguise, so back we go around the circle. One other thing about disguise I spotted as discussed in that thesis is an inconsistency in the same letters - look at the Ps in Openshaw I cited, no two are the same in form and slant etc.

                In the grand scheme of things, as reasons to be sus about Bury go this is small fry really, just a 'curiosity' as with the From Hell similarities. Should note though the chalk messages with stupid misspelling and words dropped.
                No worries. Again, this isn't something I do, but to me they look different enough that they appear to be written by different people. Now, whether or not that means it still could be Bury in disguise I don't know, but even if that were the case I think it probably just means one cannot exclude Bury nor a host of other people who may have disguised their handwriting. Regardless, I think it suggests that the letter doesn't point to Bury, at most one might be able to argue it doesn't point away either but that just means it is uninformative as to Bury's involvement. Of course, we've not even touched upon the issue of whether or not the letter came from the murderer, which is itself not established. So if Bury wrote the letter but the letter is not from the murderer, that would mean Bury is not the murderer! Anyway, it is fun to look at though, and that's a good thing.

                - Jeff
                Last edited by JeffHamm; 04-28-2022, 11:07 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes agree inconclusive but if someone backed me into a corner and forced a yes/no answer out me at gunpoint I'd squeak out a yes (thankfully highly unlikely to happen).

                  Couple of other points. Worth noting Bury does some odd variations. As per the Ps of ship and pitching below in the same sentence – look nothing alike. Doesn’t help with Openshaw but does show the danger of picking and choosing letters to compare. just because Bury does one style of lettering doesn’t mean he can’t change to another (potentially to disguise). I guess there is nothing idiosyncratic enough in Openshaw to say who wrote it.

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                  Although not evident in Openshaw there is something that has been discussed by others about Bury’s conjoined words – apparently this is something relatively unusual and it does occur in From Hell (I took). Note that the focus of Bury’s conjoined words is the t-bar, as in from hell. Clearly the handwriting is different but it is a similarly odd feature. Is it enough that he does this odd thing and it’s in from hell. Who knows? The author of Openshaw seems to want to take credit for the kidney so there is your tenuous link.

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                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aethelwulf View Post
                    Yes agree inconclusive but if someone backed me into a corner and forced a yes/no answer out me at gunpoint I'd squeak out a yes (thankfully highly unlikely to happen).

                    Couple of other points. Worth noting Bury does some odd variations. As per the Ps of ship and pitching below in the same sentence – look nothing alike. Doesn’t help with Openshaw but does show the danger of picking and choosing letters to compare. just because Bury does one style of lettering doesn’t mean he can’t change to another (potentially to disguise). I guess there is nothing idiosyncratic enough in Openshaw to say who wrote it.

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                    Although not evident in Openshaw there is something that has been discussed by others about Bury’s conjoined words – apparently this is something relatively unusual and it does occur in From Hell (I took). Note that the focus of Bury’s conjoined words is the t-bar, as in from hell. Clearly the handwriting is different but it is a similarly odd feature. Is it enough that he does this odd thing and it’s in from hell. Who knows? The author of Openshaw seems to want to take credit for the kidney so there is your tenuous link.

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                    Hmm, I wouldn't call it inconclusive as that sort of implies a degree of confirmation, rather uninformative I think is a better description because if we assume the handwriting in the Openshaw letter has been disguised because of course we don't actually know it has been. I agree there would be a good chance it would be disguised, but that applies whether or not it was sent by the murderer. Given the handwriting doesn't look like Bury's to me, it looks to me more like it isn't his but one cannot conclusively state that because of the possibility that the handwriting might be disguised. And if it is disguised, it could therefore be anybody's disguised handwriting, which means it does not connect the letter to Bury (beyond the fact that Bury was alive when the letter was penned and therefore is one of the people in the world who could have written it). An expert at this sort of analysis, however, might have tools that allow for the comparison to be made nonetheless, but as we don't have such a person available, we're left with no information, making it uninformative.

                    One thing about cursive writing is that letters can be formed differently if they are the first, a middle, or last letter of the word, so the differences in Bury's p's between ship and pitch are not a great comparison. Notice he forms the s at the start of ship quite differently than in short, using a capital S formation in ship but the proper lower case in short. His p in pitch is again another capital where a lower case should be used. One would need to examine his writing with a large number of examples to see if he tended to improperly capitalise things, and if so, if there was any sort of pattern to when he did that (maybe as a way of emphasis or highlighting an important word, etc).

                    His conjoined words don't look at all odd to me. Having the cross bar from a terminal t flow into the next word is a lazy habit that is easy to get into. I do that as well. Of my own writing, I picked up the habit of initial t's, when followed by a letter that requires a "top link" (as in th) to just draw the vertical line and then do the t's crossbar and flow into the h. When t started a word and was followed by a low link, as in tea, I would form the initial t properly, starting at the bottom, up to do the vertical stroke, then back down to then come out the bottom and flow into the "e", and after completing the word go back and cross the t. So my t in "the" was a more "print and link" type letter, while by t in "tea" was a proper cursive t. Sort of like what Bury has done with "the post", but not quite as he links the t to the h in the at the bottom, and goes back to cross the t, while I would lift after drawing the vertical and link the crossbar to the h. In the examples shown, Bury is doing that, using the cross bar to link to the next letter, but he does it when t is the last letter of word and he just flows the crossing of the t into the start of the next word rather than crossing the t and lifting the pen to start the next word (so he's omitting the pen lift). I can easily see someone picking up that habit as it is efficient as it omits a pen lift, though it would get a rap on the knuckles for being improper.

                    It looks to me, though, that Bury forms his lower case s's very differently from what I think is an s in the From Hell letter (doesn't it say "I send ..." just above "I took..."? That would be an indicator of different authors, though of course one can always claim disguise, one runs the risk of playing that card to the point of culling out any indication that it is not a match and so forces the conclusion, which is a no no.

                    Again, as I say, I'm not trained in this and everything above must be viewed with that in mind. If we had a trained handwriting analyst then I would gladly set my opinion aside if they indicated that I'm looking at the wrong things, or interpreting things incorrectly. One thing I do know is that it is hard to do this by just looking at such tiny comparisons. It would help if we had a full image of Bury's writing, showing the entire thing, along with images of the Openshaw and From Hell letter in their complete form. I realise the latter two can be found elsewhere, but for convenience having all of the questioned documents in one place would make it easier, and the zoomed in bits can be used to focus the reader on specific details when necessary. At the moment, we're missing the forest for the trees.

                    - Jeff

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post

                      Hmm, I wouldn't call it inconclusive as that sort of implies a degree of confirmation, rather uninformative I think is a better description because if we assume the handwriting in the Openshaw letter has been disguised because of course we don't actually know it has been. I agree there would be a good chance it would be disguised, but that applies whether or not it was sent by the murderer. Given the handwriting doesn't look like Bury's to me, it looks to me more like it isn't his but one cannot conclusively state that because of the possibility that the handwriting might be disguised. And if it is disguised, it could therefore be anybody's disguised handwriting, which means it does not connect the letter to Bury (beyond the fact that Bury was alive when the letter was penned and therefore is one of the people in the world who could have written it). An expert at this sort of analysis, however, might have tools that allow for the comparison to be made nonetheless, but as we don't have such a person available, we're left with no information, making it uninformative.

                      One thing about cursive writing is that letters can be formed differently if they are the first, a middle, or last letter of the word, so the differences in Bury's p's between ship and pitch are not a great comparison. Notice he forms the s at the start of ship quite differently than in short, using a capital S formation in ship but the proper lower case in short. His p in pitch is again another capital where a lower case should be used. One would need to examine his writing with a large number of examples to see if he tended to improperly capitalise things, and if so, if there was any sort of pattern to when he did that (maybe as a way of emphasis or highlighting an important word, etc).

                      His conjoined words don't look at all odd to me. Having the cross bar from a terminal t flow into the next word is a lazy habit that is easy to get into. I do that as well. Of my own writing, I picked up the habit of initial t's, when followed by a letter that requires a "top link" (as in th) to just draw the vertical line and then do the t's crossbar and flow into the h. When t started a word and was followed by a low link, as in tea, I would form the initial t properly, starting at the bottom, up to do the vertical stroke, then back down to then come out the bottom and flow into the "e", and after completing the word go back and cross the t. So my t in "the" was a more "print and link" type letter, while by t in "tea" was a proper cursive t. Sort of like what Bury has done with "the post", but not quite as he links the t to the h in the at the bottom, and goes back to cross the t, while I would lift after drawing the vertical and link the crossbar to the h. In the examples shown, Bury is doing that, using the cross bar to link to the next letter, but he does it when t is the last letter of word and he just flows the crossing of the t into the start of the next word rather than crossing the t and lifting the pen to start the next word (so he's omitting the pen lift). I can easily see someone picking up that habit as it is efficient as it omits a pen lift, though it would get a rap on the knuckles for being improper.

                      It looks to me, though, that Bury forms his lower case s's very differently from what I think is an s in the From Hell letter (doesn't it say "I send ..." just above "I took..."? That would be an indicator of different authors, though of course one can always claim disguise, one runs the risk of playing that card to the point of culling out any indication that it is not a match and so forces the conclusion, which is a no no.

                      Again, as I say, I'm not trained in this and everything above must be viewed with that in mind. If we had a trained handwriting analyst then I would gladly set my opinion aside if they indicated that I'm looking at the wrong things, or interpreting things incorrectly. One thing I do know is that it is hard to do this by just looking at such tiny comparisons. It would help if we had a full image of Bury's writing, showing the entire thing, along with images of the Openshaw and From Hell letter in their complete form. I realise the latter two can be found elsewhere, but for convenience having all of the questioned documents in one place would make it easier, and the zoomed in bits can be used to focus the reader on specific details when necessary. At the moment, we're missing the forest for the trees.

                      - Jeff
                      some from hell comparisons. Wiggins did a lot of these and I added a few bits. Not the s is similar as per comment above. One thing about bury that i will post in a bit - he does an awful lot of invasive letters similar to from hell.

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                      Click image for larger version

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                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The "s" are only similar in the sense they are both cursive s's. Again, we see a very pronounced tilt in Bury's that is absent in the From Hell version. Moreover, when Bury starts the downward stroke of the s, it's a fairly direct path from the top of the s to the bottom, while in From Hell the downward stroke is first along the upstroke and then it forms the loop at the bottom. Also, it looks like in the From Hell version (and maybe it's just due to the close up version of the image), that the s was "corrected" and originally joined into the k higher up. It's as if the writer went back and fixed it to include a better bottom loop and rejoined that to the k from the bottom. Again, the similarities look like the fact that both writers learned how to write from a similar education system.

                        Larger "invasive" descenders are not that uncommon. Cursive writing lends itself to flourishes, particularly in the closing (i.e. the y from the From Hell is part of the signing off, and so more prone by anyone to include such a thing). Bury's sample looks to be a return address on an envelope? Not sure if the same might apply, but if so it would be new to me. Regardless, if Bury were in the habit of embellishing his y's and maybe z's (which also have a similar descending loop), then his y's are going to have a high probability of matching with random people's "yours" used in the signature portion of a letter. Again, Bury's letter has a more pronounced tilt. I know the "disguised" argument, but his penmanship has a very noticable and reliable slant (which was also taught) and the fact remains that the From Hell and Openshaw letters do not. Disguised is the hypothesis used to explain why the letters look different, not evidence Bury wrote them.

                        The d's aren't really that similar beyond being cursive. The entry into the d' in the From Hell example is very low on the loop while Bury enters midway up the loop and he also shows a pen that is fluidly flowing into forming the loop, while the From Hell letter almost looks as if the pen was lifted and the loop gets formed to touch the entry line (it's almost a 90 degree shift of pen direction to then go up to form the d's lower circle, and that's not a natural movement; but it would be what you get if you drew the entry line, lifted the pen, and drew the d separately but had the lower circle touch the line you drew before). The exit lines from the d's are markedly different, Bury's is a horizontal with a 90 degree shift to a downward stroke and a small flick of the pen at the end, while the From Hell exit line is diagonally downwards, with a weak shift for the downward stroke. Given Bury appears to have fairly good penmanship for the most part, I suspect that was a taught characteristic of how to form a d. The From Hell author shows evidence of that as well, but their attention to letter formation is less than Bury's. Again, I acknowledge the disguised hypothesis, but again that's offered only to explain the differences that we see.

                        The capital C's are standard cursive formations, and again we see the difference in the slant. Moreover, Bury's C flows easily into the next letter a, which has a nice large circle and there's a fairly wide spacing between, while the From Hell C is followed by a pen lift to then form the a, which is very tight and has a poor circle, and much closer to the C. Again, the C's look to me like people who have been taught by the same system (which of course implies who ever wrote the From Hell letter was probably not a foreigner, unless all countries taught the same handwriting system of course - I don't know if that were the case or not?)

                        And Bury's cross bar for his t spans over 2 lower case letters, while in From Hell it is much shorter (only over 1). Those cannot be said to be alike. Downward flicks were common, both for decoration but also I think they helped prevent smudging and ink running. The fact these show up in the From Hell letter does suggest the author was more than passingly familiar with writing, which of course points towards someone pretending to be illiterate (which the nature of the spelling errors also suggests).

                        Anyway, as with most things, it is always best to look at things to see what doesn't fit with an idea. If the idea is correct, very few things will be found that don't fit. Yes some things will seem not to fit because weirdness happens of course, but those will be rare. Looking to see how the evidence can fit is less productive, as there is always a way to make something fit. The problem is, there is always a way to make something fit multiple ideas, and if it can fit multiple ideas then the one being offered is only one of many. The question under examination is "Did Bury write these JtR letters"? so we approach it by seeing if the letters can be shown to be different. Similarities may just be due to same education system (as I've been suggesting). And to me, there are so many differences that it appears most probable that Bury is not the author, disguise hypothesis notwithstanding. But again, my opinion is not based upon any expertise or training in the forensic examination of documents and handwriting. I've seen a few discussions on it, and I know there are a lot of factors that have to be considered, and I'm trying to recall them as I look at these examples. However, in the end, this really is something that requires a level of expertise that neither of us have, and as a result, neither of us is going to change the mind of the other. I mean really, why should you believe me when I'm not qualified to do this sort of thing? and vice versa - as a result, we're both wise to stick with our own opinion. Ahhh, the joys of Ripperology!

                        - Jeff

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                        • #13
                          Like Jeff, I am not qualified in this area, but my handwriting has always been cursive, and I have to agree with his assessments. The only similarity that I am seeing is in that they are all cursive. Beware the dreaded cognitive bias. Were a Bury advocate shown these samples as having been written by Druitt his conclusions may be entirely different.

                          Cheers, George
                          “Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

                          Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again. - Andre Gide

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                          • #14
                            thanks for this Wulf im away for work and noticed this, along with some great feedback. i read in detail later
                            but also when i get round to it will put the Ealing comparison up like you said. Doubt it will be to this standard though.

                            the other thing is yes suspect driven people would always want to link their favourite suspect with the jtr handwriting but another anomaly with Bury is there is a contemporary account that his handwriting matches the ripper, Berry reported that one of the detectives declared this. So from being cliched speculation as you might think its actually work thats needed and foolish not to look at this.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wiggins View Post
                              thanks for this Wulf im away for work and noticed this, along with some great feedback. i read in detail later
                              but also when i get round to it will put the Ealing comparison up like you said. Doubt it will be to this standard though.

                              the other thing is yes suspect driven people would always want to link their favourite suspect with the jtr handwriting but another anomaly with Bury is there is a contemporary account that his handwriting matches the ripper, Berry reported that one of the detectives declared this. So from being cliched speculation as you might think its actually work thats needed and foolish not to look at this.
                              Also worth pointing out that Ellen Bury's sister testified that Bury could write in several different hands.

                              There are good reasons I think for questioning the authenticity of the penmanship in Openshaw and From Hell
                              • On the Openshaw envelope potentially tricky words like pathological and curator and spelled correctly. As is hospital - in the main letter hospital appears as 'ospitle'. The good speller of pathological and curator can only manage dror, nife, wil, hoperate and rite for draw, knife, will, operate and right. Note also that after the first 'wil' in the very next line the correct spelling is used.
                              • In most of Openshaw the handwriting is crude (e.g. 'throte' which is hardly legible,) yet the same person manages a very neat, stylistic upper case D for dr. As noted in the reference further up, it seems a well established fact that someone with poor handwriting cannot mimic a more skilled hand, whereas the opposite is true for a good hand.
                              • Many of the same things apply in from hell. Something Jeff mentioned about conjoined words, they are done out of habit to minimise pen lift. You can see it with Bury's - they seem effortless and look like something a regular and good writer would do. It seems odd that the typically appalling, barely literate handwriter of from hell would hit on something so fluid and habitual. The start of from hell is also very grotesque (the 'mister lusk sir' bit). Grotesque handwriting is something that is noted as a disguise method.
                              Of course all of that doesn't mean Bury had anything to do with the fakery involved, but Bury is a known faker (the job offer letter) with testimony that he could write in different hands. So could he have done it, yes, is there nay proof, no. Bury's DNA is on file from his vertebrae - could it be matched to anything on the letters I wonder? Although if the ripper and handwriting is shakey ground, DNA is a veritable chasm to the center of the earth.

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