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Anti-Forgery Techniques

Before World War II, Mr. Rockwell worked as an Illustrator, Staff Artist for Boys Life Magzine, and as a Cover Artist for The Saturday Evening Post.  The Toss is a painting that appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on October 21, 1950.  This painting is being used as my example of the early anti-forgery techniques because it contains two specific shapes that appear in every Rockwell painting between 1916 and 1978. I will refer to these shapes as The Helmet and The M.

Helmet 1.png

The Toss - 1950

At the beginning of his career, Mr. Rockwell signed his works as N. Rockwell or N.P. Rockwell.  Paintings produced at that time had only one anti-forgery shape.  This shape which I will refer to as The Helmet,  holds a jumble of the letters of his last name.

As you can see below, the letters r,o,c,k,w,e,l,l fit nicely inside the space of The Helmet (left). During my investigation, it was noted that Mr. Rockwell had five additional signature styles and used them interchangeably. The helmet shape appears in all paintings. The only variation comes from a difference in the manner in which he signed the picture. He chose the signature style he used for a given piece depending on the form (hat, face, skirt, Helmet, etc.) that the Helmet would take and the signature style most appropriate to create that form. 

Helmet 2.png

A jumble of the letters of the name Rockwell comprise the shape of The Helmet.


In the example above, The Helmet shape takes the form of the marionette's skirt.

Beginning around 1916,  nearly all his paintings were signed as Norman Rockwell.  At that time he added a second anti-forgery technique and once again it was a specific shape.  This time it took for form of a modified "M".    The M was laid out so that it concealed the lettters of his first name: n,o,r,m,a,n.   The term M is a misnomer because this M had four legs as opposed the three legs on a standard M.

The form of the M remained constant throughout his career and the M shape did not vary with the style of his signature on the painting.

M 2.png

The M shape

M shape.png

The M shape as it appears on The Toss

After 1950, Mr. Rockwell continued to use the helmet shape but consolidated the six different signature styles into one that was virtually identical to the helmet shape.  The consolidation of the helmet shapes will be referred to as Metal Letters with Tissue Paper. 

Metal Letters 1.png

The image above shows how Mr. Rockwell merged the six different signature styles into one shape.

The name for this new shape is Metal Letters Attached to Tissue Paper.

Metal Letters 3.png

Image above shows the similarity between the shape of The Helmet and the shape Metal Letters Attached to Tissue Paper.

Tiny TIm.png

Metal Letters Attached to Tissue Paper was initially used as an advertisement for Chiffon bathroom tissue. This seemingly insignificant piece of artwork was Mr. Rockwell's attempt to disclose his early anti-forgery techniques to the foremost individual collector of his artwork, the Rosenberg family. He sent the original to Mrs. Rosenberg as a gift, however, the family donated it back to the Norman Rockwell Museum after Mr. Rockwell's death in 1978, and they never realized its significance!



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