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Gentlemanly Handwriting

15 January, 2013

There was much chatter and amusement (and some petty outrage) last week about the signature that might adorn US dollar bills.  Can you spot the letters that make up the name of Jacob J Lew, President Obama’s nominee for Treasury Secretary?

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The signature, which looks more like rolling tumbleweed than a collection of vowels and consonants, reminds the author of this amusing passage from George Elliot’s Middlemarch. Lew seems like a proper gentleman.

‘At that time the opinion existed that it was beneath a gentleman to write legibly, or with a hand in the least suitable to a clerk. Fred wrote the lines demanded in a hand as gentlemanly as that of any viscount or bishop of the day: the vowels were all alike and the consonants only distinguishable as turning up or down, the strokes had a blotted solidity and the letters disdained to keep the line—in short, it was a manuscript of that venerable kind easy to interpret when you know beforehand what the writer means.’

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