The answer is yes if you are famous. Otherwise not so much. Admit it, you practiced your signature back in the day. Your multiple attempts were probably scribbled using a blue ball point pen on the cover of a Pee Chee folder or a denim covered binder. Today, when I sign my carefully honed signature with that fat electronic pen at the register, the electronic result looks like a preschool scribble. But the transaction always goes through. Here’s why. According to T.K. Cheung, vice president of global quality and security for Hypercom Corporation (which manufactures card payment terminals in 130 countries), when you sign your signature, the machine is not looking through a database to confirm a match. Merchants are supposed to check but they don’t. It works this way now because most sales are not contested. Business trumps formality. If a sale is contested, the signature is one more piece of evidence but it is not critical. Now when you use a debit card, your signature is numeric (your pin number) and known only to you. The personal signature does not exist in that transaction.

But while our everyday signatures are becoming obsolete, the market for celebrity autographs is becoming more popular. Value depends generally on how famous is/was the person, the scarcity of the signature and what type of item is signed. Signed photos are worth more than signed scraps of paper and signed books can be valuable depending partly on the inscription.

Courtesy NYT Style Magazine.

1. Picasso 2. Barack Obama 3. Princess Diana 4. George Washington 5. Victor Hugo 6. Al Pacino 7. F. Scott FitzgeraldĀ  8. Eleanor Roosevelt

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