Signing off: is handwritten signature already dead?

handwritten signature

It first appeared as a sign of power, primarily as the signature of a lord, and was inseparable from other signs of power such as the cross or the royal seal. But considering the rapid spread of signing documents in different ways among various walks of life, the history of the handwritten signature is now becoming a history of its decline. 


From the very beginning…

By the colonial period, people started to use the signature as a distinctive way to protect against fraud. With the spread of large-scale literacy in 19th-century, the signature became a mark of individuality. But that all began to change with the growing popularity of the typewriter. 

Still, about 20 years ago, even children could still carefully forge the signatures of their parents. But despite this fact, handwritten signatures were still the most common way to witness/certify any legal act. You could basically turn a cheque with little squiggle on it into money. 

A signature, as a way of expressing identity, was still full of diverse meaning, but…the end was obvious.

90% of handwritten signatures actually do not display the name of the signer. 

It’s just a meaningless scrawl. We are so accustomed to using modern means of verification, whether it be fingerprint recognition or just passwords and PIN codes, that the idea of simply jotting down our name seems almost ridiculous.

No need for graphology anymore

Therefore, it’s not surprising that a significant part of us no longer have a clear, consistent signature to use ourselves. In fact, many of us can’t even remember when we last signed our name. 

  • Contracts can be legally formed online, and that purely electronic evidence has to be treated the same as paper
  • In federal courts, many filings are considered “signed” when one’s name is typed onto an electronic submission in a specified manner. 
  • Chip, pin, and biometrics are much more secure for payments today.
  • E-signatures are financially savvy. A paperless business cares not only about its own interests, but also about the time and money of clients.

Digitalization is sacrificing the handwritten signature.  But actually, the inscription of your name is no longer able to express your personality. 

Celebrities were always those identity holders whose signatures were kind of souvenir. However, selfies are now more preferred.