Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Printer's Device

All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been,
is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of Books.
(Thomas Carlyle)
A printers' device [signet] is a trade-mark or design placed by the printer or publisher on the title page or elsewhere in the text, to distinguish their productions. Their use dates from the 15th century when the printer was usually the publisher of the books, and early devices passed from one printer to another, often with only slight modification.


The design from the shop of Fust and Schöffer of Mainz, the earliest known device, is characterized by their family's two shields. It was first printed in their Biblia Latina (1462). The Fust and Schöffer shields were adopted by printers throughout Europe, including Gerhard Leeu of Antwerp, Peter Drach of Speyer, Johann Veldener of Lyons, Bernhard Richel of Basel, and Wolfgang Stöckel of Leipzig, with only minor alterations.

A collection of printers devices in TH Horne's
An Introduction to the Study of Bibliography 1814

A collection of printers' devices in PA Orlandi's
Origine e Progressi della Stampa 1722









A collection of printers' devices in J Ames'
Typographical Antiquities 1749

3 comments :

michelle said...

this post reminds me of the many years I was a bookseller, why I loved it and how much I still miss it. Fantastic post!

pk said...

Thanks Michelle - it's probably better I don't work in a bookshop. I would either be sacked for theft or failing to do enough work because my head was always in a book.

deallyn said...

I have a belt buckle with the Fust & Schoffer printer's device logo stamped on it? looks like solid silver? but no sterling mark?

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