2016 January – Microscopy by Joe Barabe

January 27, 2016

Speaker:   Joe Barabe

Topic:        Microscopy and print process for forensic document examiners


This presentation will discuss the role of microscopy in authentication studies of art objects and especially documents of several kinds, either potentially valuable in themselves, or supporting the provenance of a potentially collectable object.  It is the presenter’s experience that art authentication studies have much in common; these connections will be explored.  For art materials identification, polarized light microscopy (PLM) is a necessary skill, and for documents of all kinds, printing process identification is vital.  Case studies, including the use of these (and more exotic techniques) will illustrate all points made, especially how a lack of these skills can lead otherwise competent FDEs astray.

Speaker’s bio

Joseph G. Barabe is Senior Research Microscopist at Barabe & Associates LLC, at which he does consulting in art, document and historical objects materials analyses. He also has a long-standing interest in printing process identification and other aspects of forensic document examination.  His more important projects include examination of the ink on the Gospel of Judas for the National Geographic Society, the Archaic Mark forgery for the University of Chicago, and the Clementine Hunter forgery case for the FBI.  He has published in scholarly journals of several disciplines. He also teaches workshops in Artist Pigment Identification, Printing Process Identification, Microscopy for Forensic Document Examiners, and Scientific Imaging and Photomicrography at the Hooke College of Applied Sciences in Westmont, IL.

He had the good fortune to study chemical microscopy under the tutelage of Dr. Walter C. McCrone, the founder of McCrone Associates, where Barabe was employed for 24 years as Senior Research Microscopist and Director of Scientific Imaging. He also studied chemistry under Professor Bill Mikuska at Triton College.