How to Identify a Signature


John Howard SignatureIdentifying an artists signature can be a fun and challenging project. With so many artists around doing wonderful and interesting work,  collecting and organizing their signatures is a lifelong project that will never by completed.

Our area of interest is 20th century illustrators from

On this site, we have organized our artist information by first name, last name and monograms. Lots of times, there is only one name, hard to tell if it was meant to be a first or last name. So, be sure to search under for first and last name initial.

Many artists used a symbol or monogram (also called a monograph, chop, caricature, seal or sign). These can be especially frustrating, look under the monogram category and be persistent.

When looking at a signature, here are some first steps to finding out who the artist is.

Gruau signatureIf the signature is on a book or magazine cover, frequently these will have more information about the artist on the table of contents or contributor page. Be sure to look carefully here. This is an easy and quick way to make a positive artist ID.

For advertising and editorial art, the artist name will frequently be in small print below the art, or around the margin of the page.

On framed artwork, sometimes the artist info will be pasted on the back of the work, sometimes under the protective backing paper.

Another good source is to visit eBay. They set the market these days in popular and commercial art.

Good luck in your search, and remember that the chase is half the fun.