Is a signature something which acts as a guarantee of the authenticity of a letter or some other document, or is it more complicated? Perhaps it’s also a sign of cultural assumptions about value in both the monetary and the moral sense of this word. Two news stories which have been much discussed this week lend credence to this view.
Charles Darwin apparently usually wrote his name in short form, just initials et cetera. A document has come up for sale in which he writes his name in full. The likely purchase price is phenomenal, much more than other documents with short form signatures or none. And see the news item reference below.
The singer and songwriter Bob Dylan also sells his paintings, with limited editions framed and complete with signature. It has just become apparent that a particular set of these has a printed signature, not an actual signature. Purchasers are in uproar! The value of their purchases has sunk, to the extent that he is now reissuing the edition with an actual real signature. An interesting aspect of this is that they can barely be told apart! See the news item below.
Neither of these documents are letters, of course, but something similar can be observed in the marketplace for letters. Letters with signatures, letters with unusual signatures and sign offs, fetch more value. The content is not the key thing with such purchases.

Last updated: 2 December 2022