Sign Here: How To Get A Swashbuckling Signature

I’m going to stray off-topic here a bit with something I’d like to share with you guys.

I have lousy penmanship, and years ago I got an idea to write a piece on how to have a stylish signature. Inspired by a description of the brushwork of one of my favorite artists, Belle Epoque portrait painter Giovanni Boldini, and being a fencer, the word I stuck on was “swashbuckling.”

I finally got the opportunity to write a piece called “How To Get Yourself a Swashbuckling Signature” for Gilt Groupe’s new Park & Bond website.

For research, I interviewed a calligrapher who gave me a good overview on fresh ways to stylize your signature, and it turned out my own handwriting was not irremediable.

After I turned the story in, I stumbled by chance across a YouTube clip from the old TV show “What’s My Line.” Celebrity guests used to sign their name on a chalkboard when they came on stage. There was talk that P&B might be able to cut a video that would allow you to actually watch guys with cool signatures write their names — all the better to copy their strokes — but it didn’t happen.

But I must have watched 40 or so clips, and here are my favorites. Check out the “John Hancock” of these guys:

Peter Ustinov
Yul Brynner
Vincent Price
Jack Palance
Sugar Ray Robinson
James Garner

Now for the Ivy Style tie-in: Below are the signatures of some of the famous men we’ve written about here, along with links to our stories about them.

I think I like Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s signature the best. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

Miles Davis:

John Gavin:

George Hamilton:

Hugh Hefner:

John F. Kennedy:

Peter Lawford:

John Lindsay:

Donald Rumsfeld:

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.:

Adlai Stevenson:

Bobby Troup:

Cyrus Vance, Jr.:

6 Comments on "Sign Here: How To Get A Swashbuckling Signature"

  1. George Hamilton gets my vote

  2. I commiserate re penmanship. I once signed a credit card slip carefully and rather nicely, and, honest to God, the bank called up to verify it was me.

  3. If a shopkeeper ever had to wait for this official signature being appended to a bill, I fear he would go out of business. The most beautiful one I have ever seen – http://www.dkpw.co.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/suleiman-300×168.jpg

  4. For those interested check out the book “An Elegant Hand”.

  5. …what weapon?

  6. I would say that control and structure are first and foremost the things which must be learned, and cultivated, then one must learn to let one’s inner soul and personality shine through.

    I practiced writing quite a bit, having worked as a draughtsman clerk for my mother’s graphic arts firm when I was younger (back when everything was done by hand), I learned structure, form, and the absolute necessity for ease of understanding for my writing. What’s the point of writing something that can’t be understood? Beyond that, I also am an “amateur” artist (I did study fine art, at one of my colleges), and of course, even before then, as an off-shoot of my art work, I had determined to work up several style appropriate signatures with which to “complete” and identify my works, as my own; one was a monogram of my initials; E. A. E., with the last “E.”, facing backwards and forming a rectangle of sorts with the first E, and a single low-slung horizontal running through all three to complete the central strokes of my initials. My other signature is the one which I regularly used for the majority of my artwork, as well as nearly all of the professional and financial documents which I have signed, particularly in my work as an underwriter. My signature is so unique that I’ve never been called to verify it by any bank, though others with whom I’ve worked, have (fraud being a common concern in that industry).

    The most beautiful signature that I’ve ever seen, belonged to my grandmother; I keep a small slip of vellum with her imprimatur upon it, framed over my writing desk.

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