1 A flourish at the end of a signature is called a paraph.
2 Bogus signatures on candidate petitions are as Chicago as peppers on a hot dog. A common tactic is "roundtabling," in which people sit around a table and take turns signing petitions, using names from a phone book or making them up. We might have a different president today if Illinois state Sen. Alice Palmer's petitions had been better in 1996. Instead, they had names like "
3 For a time in the 1980s,
4 Joseph Cosey was one of the most famous forgers in U.S. history. Working in the early 20th century, he specialized in faking the signatures and penmanship of
6 As the Soviet army fought its way into Berlin in April 1945, a middle-aged bureaucrat-turned-soldier named Walter Wagner was brought to a bunker. There he officiated at the marriage of a couple he had never met, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. When Braun signed the marriage certificate, she started to use her old name and had to cross out the B and write "Hitler." Wagner also had trouble with his signature — he wrote a double A in his own last name, which historian John Toland attributes to his nervousness.
7 For years, one of the most frequent tax return errors was forgetting to sign it. The signature was so important that even with the advent of electronic filing in 1986, the
9 The first national group dedicated to collecting autographs was formed in Chicago in 1948. Despite being called the National Society of Autograph Collectors, the group wanted to make one thing clear: Its members were serious historians. The Tribune first reported about the group in a short story headlined, "Do you collect autografs, or merely names?" The group's first secretary, E.B. Long, answered that question, calling name collectors "bobby-soxers who run around asking people for their signatures." The NSAC changed its name to The Manuscript Society in 1953 to further emphasize that its members "are not just autograph seekers."
10 When Chicago author
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the newspaper's weekend editor.