In this day of virtual transactions and autopens, how important is good handwriting? Very, if you’re the U.S. Treasury secretary.
Jack Lew, the presumed frontrunner to replace Tim Geithner as President Obama’s Treasury secretary, is taking fire today for his messy John Hancock.
The scrawled name which New York Magazine called “the world’s worst signature” would appear on all U.S. dollar bills if Lew is nominated and confirmed as secretary.
Lew is currently Obama’s chief of staff. Asked at today’s press briefing whether Lew was working on his signature, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Geithner worked to improve the clarity in his signature before it was ready for the dollar, he said in an interview with American Public Media’s Marketplace this spring.
Former Secretary of the Treasury John Snow has said it took him several tries to get the one that appeared on countless bills under the Bush administration.
“Right after I was confirmed for my position by the U.S. Senate, I signed my name five times, and one of those signatures was chosen to be engraved by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing,” Snow told ABC’ News in 2004. ”The employees of BEP are terrific artisans and they did a beautiful job with my signature.”
A list of 45 signatures that have graced U.S. currency in the past show that not all secretaries had great penmanship. Henry Hamill Fowler (1965-68) had a neat signature, but it was thick and cartoonish. Ogden Livingston Mills (1932-33) squished his letters tightly together, making it difficult to distinguish one from another.
None, however, are quite so bad as Lew’s.
UPDATE 5:56 P.M.: Handwriting analyst Fiona MacKay Young told ABC News in an email that Lew’s signature conveys that he is “not interested in communicating and…doesn’t want to give away more than necessary.”
MacKay said his choice to use loops instead of letters “also shows open mindedness.”
ABC’s Mary Bruce and John Parkinson contributed to this report.