Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finding Fingerprints and DNA on Bookplates

You start with one bookplate depicting a fingerprint and then you find another and pretty soon you have five .
It did not occur to me that this was worthy of a blog posting until I stumbled upon this link:

"Inverse fingerprints on paper: Visualization of latent fingermarks by nanotechnology November 5, 2012 
Paper is one of the surfaces most commonly tested for fingerprints in forensics. Unfortunately, it is particularly difficult to make fingerprints on paper visible. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, Israeli scientists have now introduced a new method developed specifically for use on paper. It produces a "negative" of the fingerprint and is, in contrast to conventional methods, independent of the composition of the sweat residue left behind. In many criminal cases, paper evidence plays an important role and it would be useful to know through whose hands checks, documents, or paper currency have passed. Studies have shown that only about half of the fingerprints present on paper can be made sufficiently visible. The main reason that this does not work consistently seems to be the highly variable composition of the sweat left behind on the paper. A team led by Daniel Mandler and Joseph Almog at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has now developed a procedure that avoids these problems. It involves a sort of inversion of an established method in which gold nanoparticles are first deposited onto the invisible fingerprints, followed by elemental silver, similar to the development of a black and white photograph. In the conventional technique, the gold particles get stuck to components of the sweat in fingerprints. In contrast, the gold nanoparticles in the new method stick directly to the paper, not the sweat. This technique uses the sebum from the fingerprints, which effectively shields the paper beneath it from the gold nanoparticles. Treatment with a developer containing silver, which turns the areas with gold on them black, results in a negative image of the fingerprint. The secret to the success of these researchers is a special bifunctional reagent. The head of this molecule is an acylpyridazine group, which can bind to cellulose. The tail is made of hydrocarbon chains with a sulfur-containing group at the end, which binds to gold and attaches the molecule to the surface of the gold nanoparticles. When gold particles coated with these molecules are deposited onto paper with a fingerprint on it, the heads bind to the cellulose in the paper, avoiding the fat-containing lines. Because only the fatty components of the fingerprints are used, the possibly unfavorable composition of the sweat in the fingerprint plays no role in this method. This technique also promises to alleviate another problem: if paper has become wet, it has previously been nearly impossible to detect fingerprints because the amino acids in the sweat, which are the primary substrate for current chemical enhancement reactions, are dissolved and washed away by water. The fatty components are barely effected. More information: Joseph Almog, Visualization of Latent Fingermarks by Using Nanotechnology for Reversed Development on Paper: A Remedy to the Variation in Sweat Composition, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Journal reference: Angewandte Chemie Angewandte Chemie International Edition "

Read more at:

My overactive imagination went into high gear after reading the article posted above.Yes, hundreds of hands may have touched a bookplate in a book   from the library of a president or a signer of the Declaration of Independence.None the less,,emerging technology may enable researchers to find fingerprints of historical figures from the 17th and 18th centuries.
But let me carry this one step further. The reverse side of a bookplate pasted in a book has been untouched since the owner handled it .Surely there must be hidden fingerprints under the bookplate along with DNA samples.
If the technology for isolating such prints and DNA does not exist today it will in time and the bookplates will
be like amber protecting insects and pollen .

 If anyone out there can add to this thread please let me hear from you.


Received 11/26/2012

Dear Bookplate Junkie
On the subject of fingerprints, I hesitate to dampen your enthusiasm, but is it not the case that the majority of pre-1900 bookplates will have been soaked off book endpapers. Even assuming their one-time presence, any latent fingerprints (predominantly of printers and librarians) will doubtless have been washed or rubbed away long ago, leaving only confused traces of indigent booksellers, sequential collectors, anonymous auctioneers, and exorbitantly-pricing eBayers. In regard to exlibris post-1900, the satisfactory matching of fingerprint to owner would no doubt require recourse to well-attested fingerprint records – however, the best official records are those pertaining chiefly to the criminal classes, who are not generally famous for erudite literary study nor the possession of large, bookplated libraries.
But why stop at fingerprints?
Set the minimum standard at a full hand, then you can move into the topic of palmistry.
Or maybe both hands and at least a few toes; yet surely a full footprint or whole body skin imprint would be preferable ?
Furthermore, is it not time to research (for the benefit of posterity) the hitherto unexplored field of anthropodermic exlibripegy ? [See]
We have bookplates on vellum, but are there no bookplates printed on the preserved skins of malefactors or of such household servants as had in all other respects outlived their usefulness ?
Yours very truly
A.W.F. Redivivus

PS: Unlike Bilibald Pirckheimer’s Sibi et amicis - For him and his friends
or Sir Wollaston Franks’s Nunc mihi mox aliis – Now mine soon to others
Dr Cosgrave’s unconvivial tenet is In mea manu maneat - Let it remain in my hand.

12/1/2012 Thumbprint Bookplate sent by Anthony Pincott

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