The National Library of Australia’s recent publication Signed by Hand is a lovely snapshot of Australian history highlighting the handwriting and signatures of famous Australians and others who we know from the past such as authors Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
Personal papers including official documents, letters and cards of our ancestors add a real personal connection with our ancestors. Barry Jones writes in his introduction: “Objects, including autographs, can concentrate the mind wonderfully – they take me a different time and space, as I reflect on human history and our struggle for meaning.”
Some researchers have been inspired to have their ancestors handwriting samples analysed
There are quite a few tips online for deciphering old handwriting if you are lucky enough to have more than just a signature.
To be further inspired by other signatures and autographs visit the Internet Archive which has digitised Portraits and autographs by W.T. Stead which was published in 1890. It includes photographs and hand writing samples from famous people of the day starting with Queen Victoria.