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Melvin Harris and his Examination of the Diary

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  • Melvin Harris and his Examination of the Diary

    In his article "THE MAYBRICK HOAX: A FACT-FILE FOR THE PERPLEXED" from April 1997, Melvin Harris wrote (bold added):

    "In August and October 1993, independent visual examination of the Diary ink, by myself, by Dr Joe Nickell, by Kenneth Rendell, by Maureen Casey Owens and by Robert Kuranz, revealed no signs of ageing. We were all viewing a fresh, washed-out looking ink, that gave signs of having been diluted. So at that time there were six examinations that all pointed to one conclusion: the ink was new."

    In response to this, it has been suggested that Harris was lying and that he never viewed the Diary. Thus, in a post in Casebook on 18 March 2005, the year following Harris's death, it was said:

    "Hi RJ,

    I have just been reminded that the only occasion Melvin was in the same room as the diary was the October 1993 press conference.

    The diary was protected by a security guard, and not much more than a glance was afforded to all those present who ventured forward to have a butcher's. There was no opportunity for anyone to 'examine' the document, in the usual sense of the word.

    I also understand that Melvin was positioned at the back of the room, and made no apparent moves to face his bete noire at the front.

    And it appears that Melvin never did request another opportunity to see what he missed.

    I must say I find it absolutely extraordinary, if true. Not because it would have changed anything at all if he had gone over it with a fine-toothed comb - I'm sure it wouldn't; but because of what it says about the sheer repellent power this document seems to have had over professionals you wouldn't normally think of as being easily repelled by any object they recognise as being within their area of expertise.



    To the extent that Melvin might have somehow got a glimpse of the Diary, it is suggested it was very limited. Thus, we were told by the same person as above on 30 April 2018:

    "Melvin's examination in October 1993 was indeed 'limited', if the diary was opened at just one page for attendees of the book launch to see. Even more limited if it was displayed for people to look but not touch, as is my understanding."

    However, I have found a note written by Melvin Harris in 1996 in which he says this (with my bold):

    "But the ink in the Diary is not bronzed in the way that an ink of that age would be. It is (or was in 1992-93) a washed out blue-black in hue. At that time it looked fresh and new, with perhaps evidence of a degree of dilution, a fact I remarked on when I examined it (courtesy of the security guard) at the end of the book launch."

    So it seems clear that there was more to it than those in the room that day were aware of and that Melvin made some kind of arrangement with the security guard to examine the Diary in private following the public book launch. Furthermore, in a separate note, Harris stated this:

    "I used a Zeiss hand-glass, bloomed and fully colour-corrected, to scrutinise the ink and I too found bronzing absent"

    That indicates to me that he did, in fact, have a close look at the Diary.

    It's easy to besmirch the reputation of the dead but, whether he was right or wrong about the Diary, I believe that Harris was a man of truth and integrity and I hope this puts the record straight.

  • #2
    Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
    It's easy to besmirch the reputation of the dead
    Well if we couldn't there wouldn't be much point in this site!

    Well done Dave, Melvin was a cantankerous old git, I liked him, nice to clear his name on this issue.
    My opinion is all I have to offer here,


    Smilies are canned laughter.


    • #3
      Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
      I believe that Harris was a man of truth and integrity and I hope this puts the record straight.
      Back in the day, there was so much crap written about the Diary I would look forward to Harris's periodic reports. At the time I took his conclusions as the last word on the matter.

      Funny thing was, he also wrote a suspect book on JtR, which was disappointing to say the least.
      After I read it I thought that if he had applied the same criticism to his own theory that he applied to others, he would never have written it.
      Some will say I'm wrong of course....
      Regards, Jon S.