If so, it could be a find of major historical significance. Not that signatures of the (arguably) greatest playwright and literary figure in history do not exist, it’s just that they are extremely scarce. How scarce you ask? Well, there are only 6 known examples in the world, which typically categorizes it as the most valuable autograph in the world, with any example being appraised in the range of millions of dollars to priceless. This example would be only the 7th if it turns out to be authentic. All known exemplars are held in institutions around the world.
The faded, almost invisible, signature is found scrawled across the top right corner of Archaionomia, which is a compilation of Saxon Laws written during the reign of Elizabeth I, the period in which Mr. Shakespeare also lived.
The authenticity of the signature is being determined by the Lazarus Project utilizing a detailed and technologically advanced process of multi-spectral imaging, a process which can be successful at restoring lost, damaged, faded or otherwise unreadable text. The process has made the signature (written as “Wm Shakespeare”) visible enough to be studied for consistency with the Bard’s known signature examples, as well as to be studied alongside known forgeries.
If the signature is found to be genuine it would no doubt be an incredible historical find, and may shed more light on the life of the great writer. Scholars would use it to garner more information regarding Shakespeare’s reading habits and also to inquire whether or not he may have worked in the legal profession at some time.
It will be interesting to see what the group is able to conclude when their analysis is complete. We will keep an eye on this story and report back when the determination is made.
To see two examples of Shakespeare’s signature in our library click here: William Shakespeare Signature Examples