Holograph: Hand-written manuscripts

Holograph: Hand-written manuscripts

This is post #8 of #BlogchatterA2Z.

This includes blogging every day in April for 26 days, except on Sundays. What’s special about it is that every day’s post will be corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. 

My theme for 2021 is Bookish TriviaIf you liked this post, don’t forget to “roll” me on Blogchatter’s website!

All my #BlogchatterA2Z posts 2021 can be found here.

Do you know what a holograph is?

Don’t confuse it with holography, which is the art of making holograms. In holography, the light scattered from an object is presented in such a way as to appear three-dimensional. Rainbow holograms are used in many places for security purposes, such as driver’s licenses and credit cards.

Holograph Sagan Diaries John Scalzi
Sagan Diaries holograph written by John Scalzi

A holograph is a hand-written document wholly composed by the person in whose name it appears. e.g. a deed, will, letter

It’s also called by other names like autograph, protograph, or original manuscript.

In some countries like France and in some states in the United States, certain holographic documents have legal significance and do not need to be witnessed.  e.g. holographic last will.

Origin of Holograph

The term holograph originated between 1650 and 1660 from the Latin holographus and Greek holographos (holo = whole/entire and graph = drawn/written)

There’s a slight distinction between an autograph and a holograph.

  • An autograph is a document in the author’s handwriting.
  • A holograph is a document written entirely by the person in whose name it appears.

Of course, autograph also means “signature.”

Holograph music sheet
Holographic music sheet

An article in the Encyclopedia Britannica, written by Edward Maunde Thompson in 1911, describes an autograph as “a document signed by the person from whom it emanates.”

He uses supporting evidence to show that the term was used from antiquity to the Middle Ages when a document written by a scribe was said to be “signed” or “autographed” by the person who fixed his seal to it. (Thus, signum = signature)

Edward differentiates holographic documents from autographs by saying that when the entire document is written by the person in whose name it appears, it is a holograph.

Holographs may or may not contain illustrations.

Holograph Collections

Rare holographs written by famous people are considered collectibles.

Holographic letter Michael Faraday
Holographic letter by Michael Faraday

Here’s a list of some existing holographic documents (or autographs) of historical significance:

Take a look at this video to experience the magic of holographic and autographic documents:

A Holographic Will

A holographic will is an alternative to a will created by a lawyer.

It is hand-written and signed by a testator.

Some states in the US recognize the legal legitimacy of a holographic will and have the following requirements:

a) proof that the testator wrote the will

b) evidence that the testator had the mental capacity to write the will

c) the testator’s wish to disburse personal property to beneficiaries should be present in the will

Holographic wills do not require witnesses or notarization.

If you want to read about holographic wills in detail, click here.


1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autograph_(manuscript)#:~:text=An%20autograph%20or%20holograph%20is,overlaps%20with%20that%20of%20holograph.

2) https://www.askdifference.com/holograph-vs-hologram/

3) https://www.biblio.com/blog/2012/05/what-is-a-holographic-document/

4) https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/holographic-will.asp

5) https://picryl.com/media/evening-song-1912-1

13 responses to “Holograph: Hand-written manuscripts”

  1. Interesting! Holographic will do not need a witness. There are a few books and movies where they’ve shown a holographic will. Thanks for the clarification.

  2. another new thing to learn today. it is so interesting to know about the holographic will, and the famous holographic documents. Emily Bronte’s diary intrigues me the most.
    deepika sharma

  3. Wow, this is an interesting information. I remember seeing an episode in Byomkesh Bakshi where a victim is kept captive and to ensure that his correct will is presented to the world he writes it in his own handwriting. Is holographic will valid in India?

  4. Another new word and another comprehensive post Satabdi. Thank you.
    You’ve done a tonne of research to put these together–very impressive.
    ‘Holographic last will’ reads like a three word story to me:)

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