Norwegian Jan Syvertsen has an unusual hobby — collecting signatures of state officials across the world. It all started in 1980 when he began collecting all kind of celebrities’ signatures. Later on, he specialised in politics. “I have always been interested in both internal and foreign affairs. I collect mainly royal family members, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and the leaders of non-sovereign states.”
His three Facebook friends – Rune Moe (Norway), Michal Dominik (Slovakia) and Maciej Olbert (Poland) also happened to have the same hobby so they decided to meet in Krakow, Poland, where they founded the World Leader Autograph Society (WLAS) in 2013.
They have grown over the years and now have members in 13 countries and regular annual meetings. “We are continually looking for collectors in different countries, but it is difficult because there are not so many of us. Most collectors collect film stars, musicians and sport signatures,” says Jan.
The hobby consists of writing to the politicians’ office. According to Jan, it is possible to find a lot of addresses if you really search the internet. “The members of WLAS can also cooperate exchanging signatures or help each other with addresses. I have about 2000 signatures from about 185 countries including leaders of non-sovereign states like Greenland, Scotland, Faroe Island etc.”
This is only a personal hobby for personal use, but they hope to make an exhibition one day somewhere. “We always try to get some countries complete,” he added.
The next meeting is due to be held in Belgrade, in August 18-20. Jan says that they will be enjoying friendship, exchanging signatures, discussing new ideas and how to get more members, as well as exploring the city. “We will also make an effort to invite a few politicians to meet with us if possible and sign some pictures for us.”
So far, they have signatures of Dobrica Cosic, Milan Milutinovic, Milan Panic, Ivica Dacic, Zoran Zivkovic, Nebojsa Covic, Ivan Mrkic, Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, Vuk Draskovic…