Rudolf van Renesse
1940 - 2011
Author of Optical Document Security and the founding chairman of the Optical Document Security conference.
Ian M Lancaster, of Reconnaissance International and the IHMA, and a member of the ODS programme committee since 1996, spoke at Ruud's funeral on 7th December in The Hague.
Optical document security…
3 words which have circled the globe, north to south, east to west, together with the name of the person who first put these words together in to this phrase. These words represent a family of products that defend secure documents such as banknotes and identity documents against fraud.
And the person who coined this phrase, who gave definition to a product and an industry, was Rudolf van Renesse. So I would like to thank Ruud’s family for the opportunity to say these few words. It is an honour, albeit one tinged with sadness, to be here to acknowledge & thank Ruud for his enormous contribution to the world of document protection – and thus his contribution to all our lives as users of banknotes and ID documents.
But mainly I’m here because Ruud was a friend… I’m ashamed to confess that I don’t remember when I first met him; probably in the mid 1980s; I certainly met him in 1991, at a conference here in The Hague. But I know when he entered my life. That was in 1979, when I made my first hologram and developed it in “van Renesse A & B”, his special holographic processing formulae.
Then around 1992 he asked me to be a reader for the manuscript of the book he was editing, titled Optical Document Security, the first formal public use of that phrase. I gladly accepted and was subsequently impressed – amazed! – at Ruud’s command of English. I know the Dutch are excellent linguists, but here was a person writing and editing fluently in a language that was not his native tongue.
That was the beginning of a warm and – certainly on my part – respectful friendship, as well as the beginning of a game we played. I rarely needed to correct Ruud’s English, but I took it upon myself to improve his grasp of the subtlety of the language. I would throw at him the perfect word for what he wanted to say in English; as I’m sure many of you know, English is a very subtle language, with finely nuanced synonyms – subtly different ways of saying the same thing. So I would give him the most appropriate, subtly appropriate word for something he had got not quite right.
Fortunately, he enjoyed this. Ruud had a curious, probing and acquisitive mind, so he appreciated this extension of his command of English. This went on for 20 years - just two weeks ago, in our last conversation, he responded positively to my giving him a word to describe exactly his situation. I remember that conversation – but unfortunately I don’t remember the word itself!
Ruud, my friend… we enjoyed this wordplay together; we enjoyed discussing the finer points of optical security theory and practice; we enjoyed theological and philosophical discussions; we enjoyed a shared love of Bach and Scotch whisky. Indeed, many of these discussions took place late at night over jars of this amber nectar.
And we enjoyed – I believe – working together; certainly I enjoyed working with Ruud. Even though he was a perfectionist who ensured I was never complacent in our joint business activities. He kept me on my toes!
But to return to Ruud’s professional contribution. The book, especially in its third edition, which Ruud wrote rather than edited, became the standard text on the topic. And next month some 200 or more people – from central banks, immigration authorities, security printers, optical security suppliers and others – will gather in San Francisco at the Optical Document Security Conference. Ruud founded this conference in 1996 and since then it has been the global platform for the latest in, and discussion of, optical document security. At Ruud’s invitation I have been on the programme committee from the start, and it is now my responsibility, and an honour, to continue this conference as a lasting and living legacy of Ruud’s achievement. I, the conference committee and the team at Reconnaissance, all of whom admired, respected and loved Ruud, will do our best to live up to Ruud’s standards.
But, Ruud – it won’t be the same without you.