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.
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.
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.
The M shape
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.