Almost anyone can produce a convincing forgery with an old thieves' trick—copying a signature upside down.* But forgers who can amass riches are rare. As every detective-story reader knows, most such slippery geniuses blossom in foreign capitals. But last week, with pardonable pride, the Federal Bureau of Investigation added to the list of master forgers the name of Chicago-born Alexander D. L. Thiel (rhymes with steal).

Forger Thiel, a grey-haired, dignified man who bears a striking resemblance to the late John Barrymore, was just another confidence man until he reached middle age. But in the early '30s he turned up...

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