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The Astronauts - An analysis of those that went to Space

By Scheherazade Q.

The Astronauts


With our brand new Blog, we're catching on with a few of the articles previously posted by our CEO, Sheila Kurtz. Today a marvelous piece on Astronaut handwriting originally published on April 2013, upon the announced auction of a copy of Martin Caidin's book “THE ASTRONAUTS”, signed by its author and by seven of the Mercury Seven astronauts

The Astronauts
By: Sheila Kurtz
Ms. Kurtz is a Master of Graphology and president of

One of the most rare and fascinating original documents in the four-century long history of handwriting analysis is going on the world auction block on the 18th of April.

The handwriting is in the form of nine signatures and a note on the title page and facing page of a 52-year-old book entitled “THE ASTRONAUTS” about the first seven Americans chosen to be rocketed into space in the early 1960s. The title page is signed in ink, one signature below the other, by all seven of the Mercury Seven astronauts: M. Scott Carpenter, John H. Glenn, Jr., Walter W. Schirra, Jr., Leroy G. Cooper Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Donald A. Slayton. At the bottom is the signature of Martin Caidin, the book’s author.

On the facing page is an exuberantly printed “BOY, WHAT A RIDE!” that is signed by “Alan B. Shepard Jr” and dated “5/5/61”. He was the second human being (after the USSR’s Yuri Gagarin) and first American to be shot into space. 5/5/61 is the date he was launched by a Redstone rocket in a capsule called Freedom 7 and retrieved alive.

For graphologists who study the behavioral aspects of handwriting, this collection of signatures is a marvelous coincidence. Seldom are the signatures of several historically significant people, who are all members of the same psychologically select and selected group, found stacked together on the same page. Rare, too, is that the signatures are all clearly readable and in the combinations of them are woven endless stories.

All of the Mercury Seven astronauts shared the classical attitude of knowing themselves well enough to show clearly and willingly and with readable signatures who they are and what they are all about, take it or leave it.

The best graphological comparison in America is the Declaration of Independence, where all 56 rebellious countrymen, who knew they might face death for treason, signed their names clearly and legibly enough “to be read by King George without his spectacles.”

Yet most fascinating and intriguing to behavioral graphologists is that every one of the Mercury Seven astronauts proudly (some even a bit vainly) display full and some outsized upper loops on certain letters that are so numerous and pronounced that we have nicknamed them “the moon loops.”

Graphologists interpret full and ballooned upper loops as a tendency by the writer to soar high into unknown realms, both physical and mental - a trait shared by many mathematicians, musicians, mystics, and, it seems clear, all of the men tested and selected to be American astronauts.

Somehow, teams of NASA psychologists selected (by top secret means) from a field of 110 elite military pilots a cohort of seven men who coincidentally all display large upper loops on numerous letters that rise above the rest of the smaller letters into the realms of abstractions and dreams.

It is also rare to find seven associated signatures with so few signs that any writer uses his intuition or relies on “gut feelings” to reach a decision. With one minor exception (Walter Schirra, who may have been slightly intuitive), the astronauts connect all of their letters. This signals to graphologists that they do not trust to their “gut” nor do they jump to many conclusions, right or wrong. Old pilots tend to share this trait because they are trained to trust their instruments and thus live longer than the “bold” pilots who “fly by the seat of their pants.” [The late John Kennedy, Jr. was a “bold” pilot.]

My company’s graphologists do not ordinarily examine signatures because signatures are, in fact, personal logotypes that are consciously constructed and rehearsed to project how the writer wishes to be seen, or not seen, as the case may be. Natural, textual handwriting when compared to signatures may express contradictory indications. Signatures that are unreadable are unreadable for a reason: the writer does not want others to know her or him, at least not before he or she gets to know others first.  Signatures may also lack many key forms and strokes necessary for even a partially useful analysis.

However, the signatures of all of the Mercury Seven astronauts (who, like the Declaration signers, also faced the enhanced threat of death) were psychologically “out there” enough that they confidently allowed many personal characteristics to show through. Here is a rundown of some of what these signatures express to a graphologist:

Scott Carpenter:
Big upper loops in his t’s, the capital C, and the tall, fat last T in Carpenter. Graphologists regard loops like that as an indication of a tendency toward the mystical, philosophical, abstract mathematical, musical and spiritual thought that may include belief in deities. His investigative, analytical mind probes and questions many different philosophies (the peaked structures of the M and n). His mind is mostly free of insoluble preconceptions and he is open to new ideas (clean, open e’s). He writes the extra-tall t’s that indicate a personal pride that has crossed a line into vanity. This is the kind of vanity flaunted by someone who feels he deserves, but hasn’t yet gotten, full-throated acclaim. [NOTE: When Carpenter penned this signature he had not yet gone into space. He later became the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space, following Shepard, Grissom and Glenn. Carpenter and Glenn are the last living members of the Mercury Seven.]  A very fast thinker (needle points on M and N), enthusiastic with a flair (the T bars swoosh and sweep) with an “almost” sense of humor (the initial banner-like stroke on the capital M, which stands for Malcolm). From a graphological standpoint, there are mysterious blots in the o in Scott and the a in Carpenter. These blots are located in the area usually regarding secrecy, but this murkiness cannot be explained by us.

John Glenn: He is dominated by an overweening desire for responsibility (big upper loop of J).  He is elegantly persistent (the shoe-lace-like tie stroke in the H [for Herschel] with a hook at the end that indicates a person with a desire to acquire.  He is open-minded (the clean, open small e) and he will seek, probe, and find his own information. He will carry a secret (right-side loop on the o) to his grave. He is decisive (firm word endings) and enjoys a very full creative imagination. His thinking is extremely fast (needle points on n’s and H). The Greek e formation (like a backward 3) at the end of Jr indicates a fine literary bent. He is probably the most emotionally influenced of the astronauts (the most pronounced right-leaning slant).  [NASA psychologists selected him as the astronaut mostly likely to succeed in Congress; he did so for 25 years.]

Walter Schirra: Seldom does one so clearly see what graphologists call “the self-castigation stroke” than in the final stroke of the r at the end of Walter and the stroke at the end of the  middle initial W, which probably stands for his nickname, Wally, and not his given middle name, Marty.   Both strokes arch over and back like a scorpion’s tail to sting itself. These strokes indicate a person who blames himself for whatever goes awry and worries endlessly about all that can and will go wrong. There is something very alluring yet painful in this handwriting.  He is the most straight forward astronaut (no start-up or hesitation strokes) and the only one who is in the least intuitive (he acts occasionally on trusted “gut” conclusions). His l and t loops are big and other-worldly, in keeping with all the other members of the Mercury group.

Leroy G. [for Gordon] Cooper: From a graphologist’s viewpoint, his handwriting indicates a writer with a closed-mind, unreceptive to all the ideas that are blocked by his hardened preconceptions (no e loops). He also sports the most flagrant “double loops” (loops on both sides of the letters a or o) seen since John Paul Jones also penned them at the time he founded the United States Navy. “Double loops” is indicative to graphologists of a self-deceptive and deceptive mind that creates worlds that don’t exist and applies his hopes and dreams to them, and then treats the real world as if it conforms to his rules. He will see and believe things others can’t or won’t, and when he ventures into the real world his  yes may actually mean no, and vice versa. He, as they say, will tell “tall tales.”

Virgil “I” [for Ivan] “Gus” Grissom: He has large and pertinent upper loops on the l at the end of Virgil and also the capital “I” for Ivan. Both loops stretch high into the unknown. He is loyal to his beliefs and good with details (round, close-dotted i’s) and is the kind of confidant who will never utter a secret to anyone (right-side loop on the o-form). He is generous and sharing (end of M curves up). His thinking is methodical and it requires time (rounded m tops) for him to think a matter through. The small wind-up circle at the beginning of the V indicates an envy or jealousy, as if someone was not in their proper seats.

Alan B [for Bartlett] Shepard:  As with all the others, his upper loops are obviously large and reach up into the same unknown. His emotions are evenly balanced and he is rarely impulsive (slightly right slant). He has the most energy of any of the astronauts and he craves and needs physical activity. He probably feels the most cooped up in a spacecraft. [He became the only Mercury astronaut to walk on the moon, and he got out of the Lunar Lander and hit two golf balls there.]

Donald Slayton: The final signer is very sensitive to criticism and takes very seriously what others say about him. He is resilient to stress (light line pressure) but he hasn’t the stamina of the others. He is both ambitious and objective (high t bars, vertical slant). [He was diagnosed with a heart murmur and became a NASA administrator but never flew a Mercury mission. However at the age of 51, murmur notwithstanding, he flew in space with an Apollo mission.]

There is a final signature on the page. Martin Caidin was a contemporary of the astronauts and the author of science fiction novels and actual aeronautical facts and lore. His signature is illegible, but the tall t stem near the end of “Martin” stretches the outer limits of vanity, the kind that embellishes accomplishments. His harpoon-like t-bar expresses both boundless enthusiasm and limitless acquisitiveness, yet he is mildly withdrawn (slight left slant) and lets no one near whom he doesn’t know well first. He is a near antithesis of the open and above-board astronauts he wrote about.

All the Mercury Seven astronauts signed several copies of Caidin’s book, not always in the same order and some with different pens with different inks and at different times.

The auction of “The Astronauts” is being handled by Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas at where detailed information is available. The reserve price at the beginning of April was roughly $5,000. Similarly signed books have reputedly sold for more. Auction prices partly depend on the condition of the book and its cover. But even if the cover has some scuffs or tears or discoloration on it (we don’t know, but Heritage will), for anyone interested in handwriting and human behavior these pages are an immodest treasure.

[Image composed by GCG. Original image courtesy of Heritage Auction]
Copyright. Graphology Consulting Group. 2013.

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