It is hard to imagine in this age of facsimile, photocopies and even rubber-stamped signatures that many years ago company officials actually signed the certificates issued by their company. Even the great financial barons like John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt and many others actually penned their signatures to make them legal.
Today, those signatures provide the basis for what is unquestionably the most vital determinant of scarcity, desirability, market value, and overall collectibility—namely autograph appeal. In most cases, famous signatures like those mentioned above are obvious and readily recognizable to the most untrained eye.
A little research into an unknown signature often will reap impressive rewards, as the individual may have been a local or state politician, financier, railroad baron, or military statesman with a rich historical past. Tracing a person’s history is a challenge, and an integral and fascinating attraction of the world of scripophily.