According to an interview with 90-year-old Dikran Çerçiyan in Hurriyet Daily News, Ataturk’s emblematic signature, familiar to everyone in Turkey, was developed by his father, Hagop Vahram Çerçiyan. For 55 years Çerçiyan was a teacher of math and geography at Robert College, which graduated former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, former foreign ministers Selim Sarper and Turgut Menemencioğluları and former Cabinet minister Kasım Gülek. Çerçiyan had also gone to the United States to learn the Palmer Method, a system of handwriting that he then taught at Robert College.
…With the 1934 adoption of the surname law, many of Çerçiyan’s former students-turned-parliamentarians, became convinced of the need for the Republic’s founder to develop a signature to accompany his new name… “The students of my father who were then members of Parliament decided to present him with proposals for a signature.”…
A policeman came to the house with the assignment and Çerçiyan’s father set to work, developing the signature in one night. His son relates, “I was tired of watching him and fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning I saw five models on the table. They were handed to the police officer who came that morning.” (Click here for the full story)
I think this is particularly interesting since the cursive is rarely used in Turkey. Most signs and printed matter are in block letters. I haven’t looked into the incidence or art of letter writing, so can’t say much about it except that I’ve seen little evidence of it. There used to be postcards and greeting cards available for bayram holidays, but even those have largely disappeared except in tourist areas. People phone or visit. Writing by hand, it seems to me, has never been in fashion in Turkey, although texting and computer keyboards have changed that. The increase in literacy makes a difference, of course. I can’t help but wonder, though, whether the familiarity of block letters on a keyboard and the unfamiliarity of cursive writing both as a hand motion and as a visual representation have anything to do with the explosion of digital writing.