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Why Obama used 22 pens for a single signature?

You must be aware that US president Obama signed the healthcare bill a couple of days back. But what you might not be aware of is the fact that he used not one or two but 22 different pens to sign the bill! Now that’s strange isn’t it? Even if he writes his complete name Barack Hussein Obama that comes out to be 18 characters. So that means he used more number of pens than letters in his name to sign the bill.

obama signing health care bill

Before you start blaming the White House stationery supplier, let me tell you the reason behind using so many pens.

The use of so many pens to sign was a result of a White House tradition wherein Presidents sign historical bills with multiple pens. The logic is clear. The pen used to sign a historical bill itself becomes historical and then these pens are given as souvenirs to people who played a vital role in creating the history.

The tradition was started by President Franklin Roosevelt and has been followed by others, though some, like George W. Bush, preferred signing bills with only one pen and then offering several unused "gift" pens as souvenirs.

If you think that 22 pens are too many for a signature, consider this- President Lyndon Johnson used 72 pens to sign the Civil Rights Act!

I was wondering how a signature looked like when signed with so many pens. So I searched for some picture showing Obama’s signature on the bill and finally I succeeded in getting one.

Obama's signature on health care bill

Just look at the letter ‘O’- it has so many breaks in it, indicating that the letters were not written in one shot. And for the record, it took one minute and 35 seconds to sign the bill !

Isn’t it interesting to know the various traditions that countries follows? There is one such interesting tradition followed in UK- you can receive birthday greeting from the Queen!!

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