A study into the ageing and dating of blue ball tip inks on paper using in situ visible spectroscopy with chemometrics
This paper presents a study into the potential of visible spectroscopy with chemometrics as an approach to dating blue ball tip inks on paper documents. Analysis of six inks left under various conditions found that the majority of those kept in the dark could still be matched to the source pen after 32 months of ageing. Conversely, the majority of those exposed to light exhibited rapid spectral changes that continued throughout the 32 month period. Partial least squares regression (PLSR) was used to generate dating models for inks aged with exposure to light. Evaluation using an external test set found absolute dating to be challenging for these ink deposits within the first 2–6 months of ageing. However, predictive accuracy was found to improve for long-term ageing, with two-year old samples yielding age estimates with a maximum error of 6 months. This rapid, non-destructive methodology could assist document examiners in the relative ageing or approximate age determination of questioned documents, as well as the identification of document alterations.