Whats in a name.

This past week, a piece of stationary from the Rice Hotel bearing some mostly illegible notes from John F. Kennedy sold at RR Auctions for an incredible $34,504. Dated November 21st 1963, the notes and a small doodled half-signature are one of the last handwritten documents from JFK, as he was assassinated in Dallas less than 24 hours later.

To a collector, a piece like this represents a rare opportunity to own an item that came directly from the hand of one of the most collected and certainly most “famous” presidents in US history. It got us thinking about one of the original collectibles - the autograph.

Pre-iPhone, the signature was everything to collectors young and old. You got the attention of a larger-than-life figure for only a few seconds, but it was enough time to hand them a pen and a piece of paper, and get them to pause time and inscribe a name or a few lines of well wishes immortalizing the moment. 

But more than just a quick scribble to encapsulate a chance encounter, the autograph also serves as a window into the personality of the signer. The way you write tells a story…

In early 2022, we had a psychologist and handwriting expert blindly analyze the autographs of famous (and infamous) individuals with no additional context as part of a content exercise that wound up on the cutting room floor. In some cases, that analysis reinforced many of the preconceived notions one might have about the subjects being analyzed. In others, it took some unexpected turns.

Today, this type of analysis has become more controversial than ever before, considered a pseudoscience by many while others consider it a valid method forensic examination. Will this type of analysis be meaningful in the future? With less reliance on physical signatures and more interest in content over written word, maybe not… but it doesn’t make it any less interesting.

In the 132nd installment of Shiny Thing$, we dig into the archives and pull a selection of the outputs from this analysis. The summarized notes below are tied to some familiar faces, and what their (increasingly hard to find) autographs say about them - with a disclaimer as requested by the expert contracted for this exercise: for entertainment purposes ONLY.

Elon Musk 

Signature Analysis: Overall signature indicative of an introvert, impatience, does not like unnecessary details. Last letter of the signatures is plugging right, shows a combative spirit. Angular appearance of the last letter indicates this person often gets defensive, has a strong will, and is disciplined. Threading nature of the signature indicates the tendency to be dishonest. The “m” shows a comprehensive thinking process. Disconnected strokes indicate strong intuition.

Steve Jobs

Signature Analysis: The absence of capitals in represents a tendency to defy rules. The beginning stroke of the letter “s” shows this person has a tendency to oppose the system. The ending strokes of the letter “e” show that a person does not like unnecessary details. Right slanting indicates a tendency to act before thinking. Light pressure of the writing indicates emotions of short depth and duration. The compressed loop of the letter “b” indicates that a person has a critical & questioning attitude. The open loop of the “o” towards the right indicates that a person blunts his/her thoughts out to others.

Marilyn Monroe

Signature Analysis: The left slant of the signature shows that person portrays a friendly facade to cover a detached personality. First/middle/last names indicates one does not mind being widely known. The oversized letters indicate a need for attention / oversized capitals indicate mistrust, paranoia, and apprehension. Signature letters 2X the size of the body indicate confidence. The upper loops tangle with the line above and the lower loops tangle with the line below which shows frustration w/ sexuality. Ornate and flourished capitals indicate a bid for attention. The dot on the letter “i” shows that the person has high imagination, has an exaggerated sense of false confidence, and tries to reach for the unobtainable.

Michael Jordan

Signature Analysis: Large capitals show that a person has an inflated ego, is conceited, and has a strong sense of pride. Full separation of first/last names in the signature show that person is individualistic / wants to be accepted as such. The large and oversized capitals show that a person might be going through some inner conflict. The connected strokes show a person's deductive and methodical thought process. The hook in the capital letter “M” indicates a person’s tendency to desire materialistic gains.  Heavy pressure indicates that a person has strong and long-lasting emotions.

Walt Disney

Signature Analysis: Slight left orientation and two names indicate this person rarely takes the advice of other people. The closed ovals “a” and “o” shows that person’s tendency to overthink, exaggerated behaviors, and irrational fears and/or phobias, and are indicative of paranoia, mistrust, and apprehension. The underscore with a hook shows a person’s desire to acquire more attention. Underscore also has a plunging downward stroke which indicates a tendency to be tenacious, self-assertive, and stubborn. The last letter plugging right indicates combative spirit and aggressiveness. The irregular form of the signature shows a person’s tendency to be careless and lack of work-life balance. Ornate and artificial appearance of the signature indicates vanity, not so-very cultured taste, and a tendency to be snobbish.

Elizabeth Holmes

Signature Analysis: The big hook in the beginning, and illegible letters show dishonesty. Signatures of first name letters-only indicates a person is individualistic, introverted, and egoistic. The confining mark at the end of the signature indicates he/she puts a barrier between him/herself and others. The lowercase “t” appears with a tent and heavy pressure which is an indication of an aggressive personality. The letters are slightly crossed out which might indicate self-harm ideation.

Donald Trump

Signature Analysis: The right slant indicates friendly facade and attempts to cover detached personality. The appearance of letters is illegible and runs together which indicates to be dishonest. The first larger letter of the signature indicates that the person is individualistic, self-reliant, and confident in his/her abilities. The angular appearance of the letters with heavy pressure indicates that person often shows aggression when their meets are not met, gets defensive often, is disciplined, and has a strong will. The angular and pointy tops show tendency towards exaggerated behaviors and irrational fears. The star like appearance of first letter indicates that person is tenacious and forges ahead in spite of obstacles. 

Barack Obama

Signature Analysis: The empty set sign surrounding the letter “m” shows that the person is tenacious with whatever value the letter “m” holds for him/her. The appearance of the signatures shows that a person is individualistic with take-me-as-I-am it or leave attitude. The mixed pressure of the writing shows qualities of being inconsistent, sensitive, indecisive, irritable, nervous, and quick-tempered. The large size of the capital shows an inflated ego, conceited nature, and a strong sense of pride. The encircled last letter shows that the person is reserved and does not trust others easily.

Pablo Picasso

Signature Analysis: Single name indicates that the person is focused on self. The wide and inconsistent spacing between letters shows that a person is generous, courageous, independent, indecisive, confused, and a liberal thinker. Slightly inclined position of the signature shows ambition & optimism. The long underscore indicates a need for more attention and confidence. Omitting full letters on various occasions shows dishonesty. Lowercase “i” indicates that a person does away with unnecessary details.

Princess Diana

Signature Analysis: The capital letter “D” has an open loop which shows that a person is unable to keep secrets. The confining mark at the end of the signatures shows that a person is cautious and puts a barrier between him/herself and others. First name-only indicates a focus on self and is egoistic behavior. The long underscore shows that the person needs attention and a little hook in the underscore indicates that the person has the desire to acquire material things. The closed oval “a” without loops shows that person has a tendency to be paranoid, mistrustful, and apprehensive. 

As a reminder, the most representative examples of autographs were used in this exercise, and this is not meant for official use in ANY way.

Until Next Week…