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October 21, 2013

Can you notarize someone’s initials?

Can you notarize someone’s initials?

It is fun to read all of the various notary questions that people have. But, a notary may only legally notarize a signature of a living person who appears before the notary public.

However, it is common for signers to be required (not required by the notary, but required by the document custodian or lender or other entity) to initial all of the pages of a Deed of Trust, Power of Attorney or perhaps a Note. There are other documents that are often initialed as well. It is never a legal requirement to initial a document, but it might be a business requirement for certain financial or business entities just to make sure that pages are not swapped after the notarization.

Initialing pages of a longer document is more of a “best practice” to deter fraud. It is harder to swap a page if there is an initial on it. However, Title companies are known to forge the initials of a signer just to save time — if the signer forgot to. Imagine that documents went to a borrower’s house, and the borrower signed the documents, and had them Fedexed back to the lender. If the borrower forgot an initial, it is a huge pain to bring those documents back. It is easier to commit forgery of an initial even though that is a serious crime!

Getting back to the main point of this article, no, a notary cannot notarize someone’s initials.

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Tutorial on initialing
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October 7, 2019

How often do you do a clean up job because Notary #1 botched the signing?

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 11:21 pm

Most of the more experienced Notaries out there have done clean up signings. It is amazing to see what types of errors the initial Notaries made. Forgetting to have borrowers sign, forgetting to have acknowledgment wording, or forgetting to cross out the pronouns. Sometimes it is missing initials, or missing pages. Many Notaries do not know how to date a Right to Rescind, and I find this out when I test them.

No wonder so many companies want you to fax every page to them. There are so many careless and sloppy Notaries out there. Notaries used to do better on my testing 15 years ago. Things have gone downhill and so have fees. This gives more work for people I call, “The cleaners” — sounds mafia.

What are the sloppiest errors you have seen while doing a clean up job?

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July 8, 2019

Looking Beyond the Notary Section – A case Example

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 3:01 am

The classic examples
We are often told not to notarize a document that contains blank areas. Of course in reality we do exactly that in every loan package. Take a look at the 1003 (the computer version of the loan application). Lots of blank areas there and nary a single N/A. Once I was put on standby for many hours; to notarize the sale of a super tanker. The neatly bound document was thicker than the Manhattan phone book (alas no longer issued). It was about 1500 pages. I did not turn each page in a desperate attempt to find a wayward and un-entered fill in. After about 6 hours of waiting time, I notarized the (approx from recollection) two dozen affiants at the end.

What happened today
The document was an amendment to an incorporation agreement. There were to be eight affiants; even with the nicely preprinted notary sections it totaled four pages. Simple? Well there was an issue. Just prior to naming the trustees, there was the statement that the names and addresses of the trustees would follow. The names were there but not the addresses. I normally don’t read the documents, but wanted to be sure the list of names matched the notary sections. I mentioned the discrepancy to the person managing the signing. I was asked how this should be handled. I covered the I’m not a lawyer issue. They came up with three possible courses of action.

The first would be to simply write in the addresses. Second, would be to redact “and addresses”. The last was to simply ignore the matter. They choose option 2. So, when the “and addresses” had a line drawn thru (not at my suggestion), I felt compelled to raise the issue of the requirement to initial hand written changes.

The first two affiants had left the session after being properly notarized and were not present to initial the change. The other 5 initialed. Hmmmm, 8-2=5? Sorry, but one of the planned 8 could not attend and would be notarized at a later date, and also initial that redaction.

In all probability the infamous “fix it fairy” would provide initials for the two who left early; of course I did not suggest that. But, as unfair as it sounds to me; some were unhappy that I mentioned the discrepancy between the stated text and the data entered. In other words; it seemed to some that I “created a problem” – just by stating the obvious (to me) flaw.

In all probability I goofed In hindsight, as I peck away at the keyboard; away from the seven affiants who want me to resolve the “issue I created” – I shudda kept my big mouth shut. My biggest blunder was to agree on the 3 possible solutions. Perhaps the address is an absolute requirement for acceptance of the document. I truly don’t know. And, the only reason that I sailed into that blunder was by mentioning the issue.

Resolved: At least for me – if it’s not in the notary section, don’t read it, don’t comment on it. And absolutely say nothing about how they should proceed. It’s OK to mention initialing changes, but take no “legal opinion” about “course of action” when modifications are being considered.

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May 16, 2019

Notary Quiz of the day

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 11:30 am

Notaries hate being tested, but love reading Notary tests on blog entries for some reason. I’ll have to ask my psychic why that is. Maybe it is because they are not on the spot with this. Here is a fun quiz of the day.

1. Notaries notarize
(a) Documents
(b) People
(c) Signatures
(d) Signatures on Documents
(e) People’s signatures on documents.

2. Initials. If you initial a change on a loan document, where should the initial go?
(a) To the right of the crossed out text
(b) To the left of the crossed out test
(c) Above the crossed out text
(d) Anywhere around the crossed out text
(e) Below the crossed out text to the right.

The processor I used to work for did not want me to cross out the text, but initial below the text and below the right end of the text. The processing dept. would do the rest according to good old Emily. I wonder how she is.

3. What is the difference between a conflict of interest, interest, financial interest, and beneficial interest? This reminds me of the joke about the Mortgage Broker who left the industry in 2008 because he lost interest.

4. A Notary was asked to notarize a document with no signature line. What should the notary do?
(a) Ask the borrower to write in a signature line.
(b) Tell the borrower that he cannot notarize the document without a signature and signature line.
(c) Write in the signature line himself.
(d) Refuse to notarize the document.
(e) Call Carmen at 123notary and ask for help.

5. A Notary does a job for an old lady at a hospital notarizing a document. The notary asked the lady if she understood the document and she said yes. Two months later all parties were in court because the lady did not understand what she had signed. What should the notary have done?
(a) Ask the lady to paraphrase the document.
(b) Tell the lady how he went to the white house to visit President Johnson and see how she reacts.
(c) Stick to jail signings — they might be criminals, but at least they are in their right mind (whatever that means.)
(d) Start a conversation about current events to do a “reality test.”

6. A Notary was asked to notarize at the peace process. The Palestinians said you can’t have peace without a process. The Israelis said you can’t have peace without security. The Notary said you can’t have a notarization without a signature. After a long discussion, the Palestinians wanted to be acknowledged twice for one signature, Since the Israelis wouldn’t acknowledge the existence of their people, at least a Notary could acknowledge their signature twice to compensate. What is wrong with this picture?

(a) The Palestinians wanted to trade one Israeli signatures they had captive for two hundred Palestinian signatures as a peace initiative.
(b) The signer is the only one who can acknowledge a signature, not a Notary.
(c) An Israeli Notary will not acknowledge a Palestinian signature until they acknowledge the State of Israel’s signature.
(d) Yes, a single signature can be acknowledged multiple times, but it is the signer who does the acknowledging.

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February 20, 2019

Notarizing Multi-Page Documents

Should a Notary notarize every page of a document? How can a Notary or signer safeguard themselves from someone swapping pages in a document after the notarization has taken place? You need answers! Here they are!

1. A Notary Public notarizes signatures on documents, not pages on documents. A particular page or pages might have notary certificates within a document. Or, a certificate could be stapled to the back of a document. Ideally that certificate should identify the corresponding document. If you have a ten page document, there will most likely only be one, and possibly two pages with notary wording.

2. A prudent Notary Public carries what is called an inkless embosser that leaves a raised seal impression. This is in ADDITION to having the legally required inked seal that is used with blank ink. The embosser can be used to emboss every single page in a notarized document. I did exactly that on everything I notarized even if there were 100 pages. I did this for safety reasons. I did not want people to get away with switching pages after the fact and dragging me into court as a result of someone else not liking the idea that a page was swapped.

3. If a signer swaps a page from a notarized document, and that page was embossed, they can still swap the page. However, it will not be legal, and it will be very obvious to the Notary Public if investigated that the new page was not part of the original notarization as the notary embosses all pages — if the notary indeed was the type of notary who embossed all pages — like me!

4. Some people initial all pages. Initialing is a type of precaution. But, initials can be forged easily, and it is sometimes not easy to tell if they were forged.

5. If a document had a page swapped, the staple and staple area in the pages might show evidence of tampering. The degree of evidence depends on how skillful the fraud was at swapping pages. Luckly in my career of 6000 Notary appointments I did not have this issue.

6. If you need to add a page to an already notarized document. What can you do? You have to notarize the entire document all over again. I had that happen. What a pain. The signer wasn’t happy. Sorry — just following the law!

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January 17, 2019

Notary Etiquette 104 — Humorous Edition

Filed under: Etiquette — Tags: , — admin @ 10:11 am

Here is a humorous version of our etiquette course for your laughing pleasure.
Return to Table of Contents for – Notary Etiquette 104

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1. Dress for success
Wearing a smile on your face, but if you are also wearing a polyester jacket from the 70’s with super wide lapels, you might be the only one smiling.

Ladies, if you’re dressed in such a way that on the way to the signing cars pull up to you and ask how much you charge and you say, “$50 for a signing and an extra $25 if it includes eDocuments. I don’t do oral Notary acts like Affirmations though.” — you might need a new wardrobe.

If you wear flip-flips to the signing, you might be able to flip through a lot of documents, but your business will eventually flop.

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2. Arrive on time
It’s okay to be fashionably late if you are going to a cocktail party, but not to a signing.

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3. Animals at the signing
If there is a parrot in the room that says, “Stop forging his signature — bock!” you might want to get out of there. You should avoid doing Oaths for dogs, they prefer to receive Affirmations (or wuffermations). Cats prefer to take a nap on the documents.

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4. Leaving a business card.
When you give clients your business card, if you crossed out the phone number and wrote in a new number in handwriting — it’s time to print out some newly designed cards. If the email address on your business card ends in “aol.com” it might be time to consider retiring.

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5. Answering the phone during a signing
Its’ a bad idea to have phone calls during the signing. It’s an even worse idea to have them hear your heavy breathing. It’s even worse if the phone call is from your borrower’s ex-girlfriend or mistress.

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6. Don’t discuss religion at the signing.
If you start the signing with, “Those damn Quakers, they’re not as friendly as they claim to be, and grey went ou in the 70’s.” — you might be in the wrong profession and should probably convert from Quakerism to Catholicism.

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7. If your signer’s mother tongue isn’t English
It is generally a bad idea to mimic your signer’s accent at a signing. Wait until after the signing. Unless you have a document that is going to the Russian Consulate… then read it with thick Russian accent comrade!

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8. Confirming the signing
When confirming the signing it is a good idea to ask, “Are you high? Are you going to be high at the signing? Can I have some, man?” But, only do that if you are in a state where marijuana is legal otherwise you might be sorry. If you are going over their ID over the phone ask, “Do you look high in your ID photo?”

9. Middle initials
If the signer doesn’t want to sign with their middle initial, give them the finger… the middle finger! Just kidding. Just explain why they need to sign with their middle initial, and then after you are leaving the house, then give them the finger. There is a proper order to these things.

10. Don’t give opinions about the loan.
When you are at a signing, don’t comment about their interest rate such as, “Wow man, that’s a great rate… My brother just got a loan and his rate was way higher than yours. I’m so bummed out about that. I wish we could have gotten 4.5%. I’m going to call my brother right now and tell him what a loser he is.” It’s also not a good idea to say, “Wow, look at those terms, you’re getting ripped off dude, totally ripped off.”

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January 15, 2019

Notary Etiquette 104 — Confirming the Signing & At the Signing

CONFIRMING THE SIGNING & AT THE SIGNING
Return to Table of Contents for – Notary Etiquette 104

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1. Call to confirm the signing.
First introduce yourself on the confirmation call. Then go over all pertinent points. Make sure the ID proves the name on the documents and that all the signers will be there. You should also verify that there is a clean table to sign on. You should go over how long the signing should take, if there is anything going back to the document custodian and if they have used morphine or Jack Daniels within several hours of the signing. Nothing beats a sober signer or a well-organized Notary Public.

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2. Introduce yourself at the door.
It is good to mention that you are Joe the signing agent and that it is your job to facilitate the signing. Mention that they can address all of your questions to you, but that you cannot answer specific questions about their loan, but only general questions about loan documents and Notary procedure.

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3. Small talk is good.
People like a friendly Notary who can talk about small talk. But, avoid any topics that could be controversial such as gender issues, sex, guns, and how born-again Christians should have a second birth certificate for when they were born the second time.

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4. Don’t discuss guns and religion.
Unless you are notarizing the Obamas, don’t bring up Joe the plumber, or religion. But, if you are notarizing the head of the NRA then you might reconsider guns. If you ask him to shoot you an email, don’t be surprised if he asks what you want him to shoot it with! Yee-haw!!!

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5. Don’t park in the driveway.
The driveway is for the residents to park in, not you. You are their humble servant who parks on the street (sorry).

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6. Call if you’re going to be late.
If you are going to be late, call and let them know ahead of time rather than keeping people hanging.

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7. Don’t rush the borrowers.
On the other hand, if you have another appointment to go to, let them know when you have to depart. If you are under a time crunch, you can discuss their right to rescind if applicable and remind them that they have borrower copies.

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8. No drinks on the table
Drinks can spill, so unless you want your Deed of Trust drenched, keep the drinks on a chair or a separate table — no exceptions.

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9. Know when to call the Lender.
If the borrower asks questions, you need to know in advance which questions you can answer and which questions to refer to the Lender. You should have the phone numbers for Title, the lender, and any other relevant party. You can answer questions about what information is where in the documents as well as Notary questions. You should not answer questions specific to their loan.

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10. Middle initials
If the signer doesn’t want to sign with their middle initial, politely tell them that they need to sign the way their name reads on title otherwise their loan might not fund.

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11. How long to wait for return calls
If you try to reach one of the contact people for the loan such as Title, Loan Officer, Lender, etc., and they do not answer, try to give them a reasonable amount of time to respond. Twenty minutes to an hour seems reasonable.

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12. Dress for success.
People get very put off if you do not dress like a business professional. Business casual or business formal is fine. Avoid jeans and definitely don’t wear flip flops, shorts, bathing suits, heavy makeup, short skirts, or night club apparel. Signers get in trouble all the time for not dressing for success.

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13. Don’t bring your kids.
Believe it or not, some Notaries will bring their family to the signing. This is very intrusive and rude. Either keep your family at home, or in the car, but don’t bring them to the signing.

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14. Don’t complain.
Don’t tell the customers how bad certain signing companies are or who didn’t pay you. Keep your personal business personal. It makes a terrible impression if you talk about this stuff.

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15. Don’t give opinions about the loan.
The worst thing a Notary can do is to give an opinion, especially a negative opinion about a loan. You can get fired, blacklisted or even sued because of this. Some borrowers might cancel their loan because you told them they were getting ripped off.

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16. Following instructions
If you were asked to sign in blue, then sign in blue. If you were asked to start at page four, just do it, don’t explain or make excuses, just follow instructions. If you are asked to fax back page 1 to 28, don’t complain, just do it.

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17. If you make a mistake
If you make a mistake as a Notary, you might have to go back out there and fix the mistake. So, don’t keep people waiting. Go back out there and clean up after yourself.

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18. The grace period
As a Notary, you might be asked to answer emails after a job is done. There might be a problem, error, or just an inquiry. If you don’t answer your email or phone because you are on vacation or just don’t feel like it, that can cause a big problem.

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September 12, 2018

Redaction – the legal Eraser

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:39 am

Redaction – the legal Eraser

When something needs to be changed, typically the spelling of a name; there are many wrong ways. There is only one right way.

Wrong Redactions

If you wish to destroy, as in making it generally unacceptable for most filing and legal purposes, the surest way is to plaster on the White Out. Equally bad is to simply erase the error (not so easy with LaserJet printouts) but it still can be done with a white ink eraser. There is also the time honored method of obliteration via multiple cross outs. Neater, but equally inappropriate to simply overwrite one letter with a different one. The classic example is adding a second loop to the bottom of a capital P to make it a capital B. Less neat, but still wrong is to simply write a new letter on top of the old one. There are probably other wrong ways, I have not seen them all.

Proper Redactions

Simply draw a THIN line (a Pilot Precise V5 RT pen does this well) thru the middle of the WORD (not a single letter) or phrase that is in error. Thus, “Kenneth A Ebelstein” becomes “Kenneth A Ebelstein”. Note that the thin line allows the underlying text to remain fully readable. Few can draw a thin straight line, use a credit card as a line guide. Initials (more on whose are used later) go at either end of the strikethru line or in the margin at either side of the text. Lastly write the correct value “Edelstein” as nearby as possible. It WILL look bad, you will think a discreet “overwrite” looks better. Perhaps, but that overwrite is never acceptable.

The Two Parts of a Notarized Document

Documents to be Notarized consist of only two parts. There is the document itself, almost always first. The document is followed by the Notary section. One tiny exception is the possibility of the Venue (State of xxx, County of xxx) residing at the top of the document. Even though it is “first” the Venue is always considered as part of the Notary section.

Who makes Changes Where

This is simple. Only the notary can make changes to the Notary Section (including a top most Venue). Affiants make changes as needed outside of the Notary Section. I have been told to “correct the name spelling everywhere it appears” and refuse to do so. I do not make any writing of any type outside of “my” area. Nor, do I permit others to make changes in “my” area. Any change to the body of the document should be made by someone who will be signing THAT document, and by nobody else. Thus, you MUST teach them proper redaction procedures.

Who Initials in the Notary Section

I’m sure you guessed this one. ONLY the notary. Correcting a misspelled name in the Notary Section is NOT initialed by anyone else. I have had “low IQ” persons tell me that the named person should initial a name correction in the Notary Section; sometimes they want me to ALSO initial the fix, I do not allow anyone other than me to write anything, including initials in my area.

Who Initials in the Body of the document

ONLY persons whose signature appears at the end of the document, never the Notary. Take care to check who will be signing. Often one spouse is on some documents, but not all; and that is the one needing name correction. If they are NOT signing – even though their name is in the body of the document they do NOT initial the correction.

This can lead to strange looking corrections with a split signing. The prior affiants will not be initialing changes made during the “second session” – that’s one for the attorneys to argue.

Some Parting Thoughts

Get the initials right. When I change a Venue it’s KAE as my middle initial is on my stamp. The same applies to affiants. If the signature line of the document has Jr. Sr. III or similar, those attributes follow the regular initials EG: KAE Jr. or KAE II. As the name attributes are part of the legal name, they follow into the legal initials.

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August 26, 2018

Are you practicing law by drawing a signature line?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:14 am

Are you practicing law by drawing a signature line?

As usual my opening ambiguous answer: it depends. Depends on what you are probably thinking. Well IMHO it depends on where that line is to be drawn. I view items to be notarized as consisting of two sections. The document and the notary section, the former is outside of my “sphere of influence. Conversely, the notary section is my domain exclusively.

I have a simple policy regarding the document area, I don’t touch it, nada; not at all. If a correction is to be made in the document, the affiant(s) make it, and they initial it. That rule applies to additions, changes and redactions. Often I have been requested to change something in the document section; I request that in writing. Then, the instructions are passed to the affiant(s) as “requested” modifications; with the source of the request explicitly shown.

Of course if the signature line where I as the notary should sign is missing I, using a credit card as a straight edge, draw it in. Not so for the document itself, that is a job for the affiant(s). Am I carrying my “keep out of the document” policy to an extreme? Probably, but it’s a slippery slope when violating a basic rule.

Often the notary section is split. The Venue (State of: & County of:) might appear at the very top. That is still part of the notary section and must show where the notary signed. We all know to either fill it in if blank, or redact the inappropriate entry (notary initials at one end of the redaction line) and neatly prints the correct value(s). The affiant(s) do not initial changes to the Venue. Thus, the document section and the notary section(s) are “touched” only by their owners.

Back to that missing affiant signature line. It’s not really required. Often there is just a box for the signature or only an indication of where the affiant is supposed to sign. Would I really ask them it draw that silly line? Probably I would give them the option to do so; and let them decide if they want to. It has happened to me a few times. They are split on the option; some do, some don’t – it matters not a bit to me.

Let me stress the major “take away” from this article again. Don’t write, not even a tiny bit outside of the notary section. Pass along requests, but do not make the marks yourself. The affiant(s) will be initialing those modifications and they should be in “affiant handwriting”.

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The Notary of the Future
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August 11, 2018

Names for Notaries to name their children

Filed under: Humorous Posts — Tags: — admin @ 11:31 am

We think of Notary work as something that we just do. But, what if we encourage our children to become Notaries? It might help if they had a Notarial sounding name to do well in the industry. Here are my ideas.

Sealmore
Venuetta
Juratella
Stampella
Enenay
Affi-David — you can name his brother Affi-Goliath
Rescinda / Rescindo
Stamper
Affirma — sounds like a health product or hair care.
Embosston — sounds more like a city.
S. Crow
S.S. — comes next to the venue.
Oatha
HUD-son
Journal — keep it simple
Signarturo
Notario — just don’t use this name in Texas without a disclaimer.
Durresto
Witnessino
Ginnie Mae
Hague
Heloc
Lockworth
Manual(a)
Non-conformito
Paula Ursula Davenport — initials would be PUD.
Respa
Rider
Ferdinand Harry Armstrong — initials would be FHA.
A. Paul Steele

Feel free to leave your comments if you have any other ideas.

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