A person’s signature is an extension of their identity. Every wet signature is unique, highlighting certain aspects of the individual’s personality. They add a personal touch to any document or memorabilia. People have been collecting the signatures of famous individuals for centuries as a way of honoring their legacy. While handwriting and the wet signature aren’t as popular as they once were, we’re taking a moment to reflect on some of the most famous signatures throughout history and the individuals they represent. Take a look at what made these signatures so distinct.
The master of the mouse house himself was known for having one of the most unusual signatures in history. His signature featured bubbly, curly letters, as well as a picture of Mickey. This loveable cartoon character become so much a part of Disney’s identity that he eventually added it to his personal signature. The wide loops in the “W” in Walt became instantly recognizable and remain so to this day. His wet signature even became a part of the official Disney logo, capturing the imagination of audiences for generations to come.
A towering artistic figure throughout the 20th Century, Pablo Picasso was known for working in a variety of different mediums, including painting, sculpture, set design printmaking, and even poetry. He is the father of modern abstraction and the Cubism movement, inspiring countless artists throughout history.
But his wet signature was often considered a work of art all on its own. The artist regularly left his first name out of his signature, relying on the name recognition of “Picasso” alone. He spelled out his last name with thick, oddly shaped letters and a bold underline, driving home the artist’s significance in the art world. Museums and galleries featuring the artist’s work regularly include his signature as part of the exhibition.
Jay Leno may not have the same social and cultural significance as some of the other names on this list, but his signature still attracts plenty of attention. In addition to being one of the longest-running late-night hosts in TV history, Leno is also known for having one of the most unusual signatures.
Leno’s odd facial features have been a blessing and a curse throughout the comedian’s life, making him one of the most instantly recognizable celebrities in the world. So, it should be no surprise that Leno even added these features to his personal signature. He writes his name with just a few marks, including an elongated “J” and “L”, and then he adds an upside-down triangle with a wavy line at the top that’s supposed to resemble his face and his unusual chin line.
The one that started it all. Asking someone for their John Hancock is a common phrase that’s still used today. That’s because John Hancock, one of the founding fathers of America, gave us one of the most famous signatures in history when he added his name to the U.S. Constitution, the first step towards gaining independence from Great Britain.
Hancock’s signature has been burned into the country’s collective unconscious, appearing in museums, history books, movies, and TV shows. If you look at his wet signature, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about. He wrote his name using a fountain pen with strong, bold marks, detailing every letter of his name. He finished his signature with a seal at the bottom, which only adds to the historical significance of the image.
One of the greatest authors of all time also had one of the most unusual signatures of all time. Kurt Vonnegut was known as a peculiar fellow, writing controversial novels and giving animated interviews of the years. The same was true of his signature. His signature features a garbled mess of letters all crammed together with the “T” standing tall above the rest.
But he was also known for adding a drawing of himself to the outside of his signature, trapping the letters in what looks like his brain. The drawing is a profile of Vonnegut, highlighting his long nose and mustache. If you read his novels, you wouldn’t expect anything less from one of the greatest minds in the 20th Century.
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In some cases, these famous signatures are just as important the people they represent. Looking at these unique marks only reinforces the value and significance of the art of handwriting. Despite the digital revolution, wet signatures and fountain pens will never go out of style.