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A person's handwriting is really a part of himself. It is an

expression of his personality and his character and is as

characteristic of his general make-up as his gait or his tone of


There is always a direct and apparent connection between the style of

handwriting and the personality of the writer. Another familiar

evidence of this is the fact that no two persons write exactly alike,
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notwithstanding that hundreds of thousands of people learned to write

from the same copy-books and were taught to form their letters in

precisely the same way. Thus, it will be seen, if handwriting bore no

relationship to personality and temperament and was not influenced by

the character of the individual, we would all be writing the beautiful

Spencerian copper-plate we were taught in our school days. But, as it

is, not one in fifty thousand writes in this manner five years after

leaving school.

Like speech or gesture, handwriting serves as a means for the

expression of thought; and in expressing our thoughts we give

expression to ourselves. When once the art of writing is learned we

are no longer conscious of the mental and manual effort required to

form the letters. It becomes, as it were, a second nature to us. We do

it mechanically, just as we form our words when talking, without

realizing the complex processes of mind and muscle that it involves.

Of course, the style of handwriting does not in every case remain the

same throughout the entire life of a man or woman. A man of fifty may

not write the same hand that he did when he was eighteen or twenty,

and if he lives to be eighty or ninety it will in all probability show

further indications of change. This fact only emphasizes the

relationship between handwriting, character, and personality; for it

will always be found that where there is a change in the style of

penmanship there is a corresponding change in the person himself. Very

few of us retain the same character, disposition, and nature that we

had in youth. Experience and vicissitudes do much to modify our

natures, and with such modifications come alterations in our

handwriting. In some persons the change is very slight, while in

others it is noticeably evident.

When a man attempts to change his style of handwriting he simply

alters the principal features of it. If his writing normally slopes to

the right, he will probably adopt a back-hand. He may also use a

different kind of pen; may change the size of the writing, alter the

customary formation of certain letters, and add certain unfamiliar

flourishes. But knowing nothing about the many minor characteristics

of his natural writing he unconsciously repeats them, notwithstanding

his best efforts to veil the identity of his chirography. In this

respect he resembles the actor, who, while he may assume all the

outward characteristics of another individual, still retains certain

personal peculiarities of which he is himself unaware and which render

it impossible for him to completely disguise his own individuality.

The introduction of cheap postage and the immense increase of

every-day correspondence has ruined handwriting and banished forever

the art of composition. The short, modern, business-like letters of

to-day will not bear comparison with the neat, voluminous letters full

of graphic scenic descriptions, which our forefathers were wont to

compile, and were worth keeping and rereading. Now, when similar

correspondence is undertaken, it is dictated to a stenographer, copied

on a typewriter, or printed, for few people will take the trouble to

read manuscript composition of any kind. Looking backward, we find a

marked paucity of ideas and carelessness of writing in correspondence,

getting worse the farther back we go. Few letters are preserved these

days, except those on business, which is a pity, for a letter is

always a unique production, being a correct reflect of a writer and

his times.

There are always two divisions of handwriting, the formal hand

employed for clerk's work, and a freer, less mechanical, less careful

style, used for private correspondence. Writing was a profession only

understood by a few, and as late as the sixteenth century, when it was

necessary to communicate with persons at a distance, a professional

scribe was employed to write the letter. But letter-writing was rare

and did not become general till after the close of the sixteenth

century, and even then it was restricted to the upper classes of


Fashion changes in everything. Every generation had its own particular

type of writing. Compare, for instance, any bundle of letters taken at

random, out of an old desk or library. It is quite easy to sort them

into bundles in sequence of dates, and also guess accurately the age

and position of the writers. The flowing Italian hand, used by

educated women early in the nineteenth century, has now developed into

a bold, decisive, almost masculine writing.

It will be found that most professions have special characteristics in

writing and these are all liable to change, according to circumstances

and writing is the clearest proof of both bodily and mental condition,

for in case of paralysis, or mental aberration, the doctor takes it as

a certain guide.

The most noticeable movement by which cultured people recognize one

another are the play of the features, the gait, talking and writing.

Of these evidences the last named is the most infallible, for by a few

hasty lines we may recognize again a person whom we neither see nor

hear, and enjoy in addition the advantage of being able to compare

quietly and at our leisure the traits of one individual thus expressed

with the characteristics of another. There are not many men to be

found in any walk of life who do not endeavor to conceal to some

extent, however slight, their true views and emotions, when brought

into close contact with their fellow-beings. But the mind photographs

itself unsuspectingly in the movements of the hands, by the use of pen

and ink away from all alien observation, and with the rigid

unchangeable witness in our possession the character of the author of

the manuscript lies open to the gaze of the intelligent reader.

In this way handwriting becomes much more individual than any other

active sign of personality. It varies more, it is more free, it

represents the individual less artificially than voice or gesture.

There must exist between the form and arrangements of letters in words

and lines, on the one hand, and certain individual peculiarities of

the writer, on the other, some kind of connection. It is strange that

no scientific writing has ever yet been undertaken, for it seems

conclusive that handwriting is a kind of voiceless speaking,

consequently a phenomenon, and therefore an operation which lies

within the province of physiology.

Yet there are no books or studies on the subject of disputed

handwriting up to the present time, short newspaper and magazine

articles and sketches being the only contributions the public has been

favored with up to the publication of this work.

There is as yet no physiology of handwriting formulated, and that the

further question of the relation of handwriting to the moods of the

writer has not ever been touched upon scientifically. The history of

science teaches us that in case a fact, which is theoretically and

practically important, has been neglected for decades and even

centuries by trained scientists; but the subject will now be taken up

and a place made for it among the prominent and leading studies of the

day. Interest in disputed handwriting and writing of all kinds is

rapidly coming to the front in the United States, and is a study and

research that the business man of the future will be perfectly

familiar with.

It is now no longer the rule to teach to write entirely by the aid of

set copies, as was the case with our forefathers, who wrote after one

approved pattern, which was copied as nearly as possible from the

original set for them; therefore characteristics, peculiarities are

longer in asserting themselves and what is now considered a "formal"

handwriting was not developed till late in life. There were, and still

are, two divisions or classes of handwriting, the professional and

personal; with the first the action is mechanical and exhibits few, if

any, traces of personality. Yet in the oldest manuscripts studied and

consulted there are certain defined characteristics plainly shown. The

handwritings of historical and celebrated personages coincide to a

remarkable degree with their known virtues and vices, as criticized

and detailed by their biographers.

As the art of writing became general, its form varied more, and more,

becoming gradually less formal, and each person wrote as was easiest

to himself.

Education, as a rule, has a far from beneficial effect upon

handwriting; an active brain creates ideas too fast to give the hand

time to form the letters clearly, patiently and evenly, the matter,

not the material, being to the writer of primary importance.

So as study increased among all classes, writing degenerated from its

originally clear, regular lettering into every style of penmanship.

If the subject of handwriting, as a test of personality is carefully

studied, it will be found that immediate circumstances greatly

influence it; anxiety or great excitement of any kind, illness or any

violent emotion, will for the moment greatly affect the writing.

Writing depends upon so many things--a firm grasp of the pen, a

pliability of the muscles, clearness of vision and brain power--even

the writing materials, pens, ink and paper, all make a difference. It

is not strange, then, that with so many causes upon which it depends,

writing should be an excellent test of personality, temperament and

bodily health.

Excitability, hastiness, temperament, personality and impatience are

all seen in the handwriting at a glance. A quick brain suggests words

and sentences so fast, one upon another, that though the pen races

along the page, it cannot write down the ideas quickly enough to

satisfy the author.

Temper depends upon temperament. The crosses of the letter "t" are the

index whereby to judge of it. If those strokes are regular through a

whole page of writing, the writer may be assumed to have an

even-placed temper; if dashed off at random-quick short strokes

somewhat higher than the letter itself, quick outbursts of anger may

be expected, but of short duration, unless the stroke is firm and

black, in which case great violence may safely be predicted.

Uncertainty of character and temperament is shown by the variation of

these strokes to the letter "t." Sometimes the cross is firm and

black, then next time it is light, sometimes it is omitted altogether,

varying with each repetition of the letter like the opinions and

sentiments of an undecided person. The up and down strokes of the

letters tell of strength or weakness of will; graduations of light and

shade, too, may be observed in the strokes.

Capital letters tell us many points of interest. By them originality,

talent and mental capacity are displayed, as well as any deficiency or

want of education. There are two styles of capital letters at present

in use. The high-class style employed by persons of education is plain

and often eccentric, but without much ornamentation. The other may be

called the middle-class, for it is used by servants and tradespeople,

having a fair amount of education, mingled with a good deal of

conceited ignorance and false pride.

With these last, the capital letters are much adorned by loops, hooks

and curves, noticeable principally in the heads of the letters, or at

their commencements.

Therefore to become an expert on handwriting, a careful study must be

made of the writings of those whose life and character, together with

personal peculiarities, are intimately known and understood, and from

this conclusions may be drawn and rules arrived at for future use. Get

some friend to write his name and from your knowledge of his character

follow rules given in this work and you will find that a correct

conclusion will be arrived at. The same correct solution will be found

by studying any signature.

Affection is marked by open loops and a general slant or slope of the

writing. A hard nature, unsympathetic and unimpressionable, has very

little artistic feeling or love of the fine arts; therefore the same

things which indicate a soft, affectionate disposition will also

indicate poetry, music and painting, on one or other kindred subjects.

The first of these accompanies a loving, impulsive nature. In

painting, four things are absolutely necessary to produce an artist,

form, color, light and shade. Success in art implies a certain degree

of ambition, and consequently upon its vanity and egotism; hence an

artist's signature is generally peculiar and often unreadable from its

originality, egotism and exuberance of creative power.

Imagination and impulse do not tend to improve handwriting. The

strokes are too erratic. Haste is visible in every line. A

warm-hearted, impulsive person feels deeply and passionately at the

moment of writing and dashes off the words without regard to the

effect they will produce upon the reader.

Truth and straightforwardness give even lines running across the page

and at regular distances from one word to another. Tact is very

essential. This quality requires often slight deceptions to be allowed

or practiced; hence an unevenness in the writing is observed.

Untruthfulness gives greater unevenness still; but do not rush to

conclusions on this point for an unformed handwriting shows this

peculiarity very often, being due, not to evil qualities, but to an

unsteady hand employed in work to which it is unused.

Very round, even writing, in which the words are not closed, denotes

candor and openness of disposition, with an aptitude for giving

advice, whether asked or unasked, and not always of a complimentary


Blunt, crabbed writing suggests obstinacy and a selfish love of power,

without thought for the feelings of others. True selfishness gives

every curve an inward bend, very marked in the commencement of words

or capital letters.

Perseverance and patience are closely allied. In the former the letter

"t" is hooked at the top and also its stroke has a dark, curved end,

showing that when once an idea has been entertained no earthly

persuasion will alter or eradicate it. Such writers have strongly

defined prejudices and are apt to take very strong dislikes without

much cause.

Carelessness and patience also are frequently linked together, more

often in later life, when adversity has blunted the faculties, or the

drill routine of an uneventful existence has destroyed all romance.

Then the writing has short, up and down strokes, the curves are round,

the bars short and straight; there are no loops or flourishes, and the

whole writing exhibits great neatness and regularity.

Economy of living, curiously enough, is marked by a spare use of ink.

The terminals are abrupt and blunt, leaving off short. Where economy

is the result of circumstances, not disposition, only some of the

words are thus ended, while others have open, free curves and the long

letters are looped.

Generosity and liberality may be seen likewise in the end curve of

every word. Where these characteristics are inconstant and variable,

the disposition will be found to be uncertain--liberal in some

matters, while needlessly economical and stingy in others.

When a bar is placed below the signature, it means tenacity of

purpose, compared with extreme caution; also a dread of criticism and

adverse opinions. No dots to the letter "i" means negligence and want

of attention to details, with but a small faculty of observation. When

the dots are placed at random, neither above nor in proximity to the

letter to which they belong, impressionability, want of reflection and

impulsiveness may be anticipated.

Ambition and gratified happiness give to the whole writing an upward

tendency, while the rest of the writing is impulsive without much


Sorrow gives every line of the writing a downward inclination.

Temporary affliction will at once show in the writing. A preoccupied

mind, full of trouble, cares little whether the letter then written is

legible or not; hence the writing is erratic, uncertain, and the

confusion of mind is clearly exhibited in every line. Irritable and

touchy persons slope the nourishes only, such as the cross of the

letter "t" and the upper parts of the capital letters. When the

capital letters stand alone in front of the words and the final

letters also are isolated, it betokens great creative power and

ideality, such as would come from an author and clever writer.

The most personal part of a letter or document is, of course, the

signature, but alone without any other writing it is not always a safe

guide to character. In many instances the line placed below or after a

signature tell a great deal more than the actual name. A curved

bending line below a signature, ending in a hook, indicates coquetry,

love of effect, and ideality. An exaggerated, common-like form of line

means caprice, tempered by gravity of thought and versatility of

ideas. An unyielding will, fiery, and at the same time determined,

draws a firm hooked line after the signature. A wavy line shows great

variety in mental power, with originality. Resolution is shown in a

plain line, and extreme caution, with full power to calculate effect

and reason a subject from every point of view, is shown by two

straight dashes with dots, thus --:--

The personality of a writer can never be wholly separated from his

works. And in any question of date or authenticity of a document being

called in dispute, the value of graphology and its theories will be

found of the utmost importance, for the various changes in the style

of handwriting, or in the spelling of words, although, perhaps, so

minute and gradual as seldom to be remarked, are, nevertheless, links

in a chain which it would be extremely hard to forge successfully so

as to deceive those acquainted with the matter as well as versed in

its peculiarities.

See specimens of handwriting in Appendix with descriptions thereof.