A Signature Style
September 23, 2008 9:25 PM   Subscribe

I want to be able to write an impressive signature, much in the style of some aristocratic 19th century English speaker. But I can't find any images collections with these kinds of signatures, in order look at them and get ideas or mimic them for my own signature. Surely the Hive-Mind knows if there's a source out there with this kind of info?
posted by archae to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I of course meant an English writer above.
posted by archae at 9:26 PM on September 23, 2008

Part of what you need for an impressive signature is the writing tools and the know-how to use them. Along with looking up people's signatures and handwriting, I would go get a calligraphy kit (bookstore, art store, craft store - shop around for the lowest price before you buy) and spend some time fiddling. Obviously, your signature will look different when you use a ballpoint on a check or credit card receipt, but you need to develop the flow with a fountain point first.
posted by bettafish at 9:53 PM on September 23, 2008

Scroll down for a few decidedly un-aristocratic John Hancocks worth studying.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:58 PM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ornamental penmanship
posted by milkrate at 10:07 PM on September 23, 2008

Are you looking for something like this or this?

You need a sharp and flexible nib and a dip pen handle and a LOT of practice. Keep in mind, as roger ackroyd implies, that aristocrats didn't write that way, their secretaries did.

An alternative worth considering is an inexpensive fountain pen. Get a Lamy Safari, and start paying attention to your handwriting. It will amaze you how quickly your handwriting improves when you use a thicker pen that requires less effort to write. If you want to impress people while you are writing, get an expensive Pelikan or Montblanc after you've practiced with the Lamy for a few months. The expensive pens are a pleasure to use, but are far from cost effective. Avoid cheap Chinese pens - quality control is poor, and the Lamy will out perform even the best Hero.

Thicker pens are easier to grip comfortably, unless you have tiny hands. If you are used to writing in pencil or ball point pen, a heavy fountain pen like the discontinued Rotring 600 may be appealing, but the weight isn't necessary at all. A fountain pen with a good nib requires almost no pressure to write, so your fine motor muscles in your hand can focus entirely on making great letters.

Final words: stay away from the "calligraphy" nibs. They are fun toys, but useless for writing.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:23 PM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

one more link.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:26 PM on September 23, 2008

Lamy Safari is good, I loved it but Rotring Core has much better flow (but it looks like transformer toy, Safari looks stylish). Pick up good 25% cotton paper, too. Do you write in large script or smaller script or somewhere in the middle? With small script, you really want a fine nib. If you write for a while with a good fountain pen, stylish writing will come naturally, when you speak about 19th century aristocratic writers you have to keep in mind that they wrote literally shitloads of letters every week. And then signed them with a little flourish!
posted by rainy at 11:53 PM on September 23, 2008

Presumably you could find a picture of the signatures on the Declaration of Independence somewhere online.
posted by Class Goat at 12:10 AM on September 24, 2008

If you want a lot of facsimiles of famous people's signatures, all in one place, I suggest you look at a reference book like the Guinness Book of Autographs (which sounds incredibly cheesy but is actually quite useful). I don't know of any comprehensive online resource, but I do know of several autograph dealers who have scanned their stock and put it online, e.g. Julian Browning and John Wilson. Browse their stock under 'British History' or 'Military History' and you will find plenty of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century signatures to give you ideas. I particularly like Lord Nelson's handwriting, which is pretty impressive when you consider he had to train himself to write with his left hand after his right hand got shot away.
posted by verstegan at 3:12 AM on September 24, 2008

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