Printer's mark

Some of the first printer attached to their works in order to identify their origin clearly known printer brands (also: signets printer, printer character ) at. This author evidence should first act mainly as a right symbols and protect documents against illegal reprint by third parties. In the absence of a binding copyright but the printer brands could not fulfill their intended legal function. Therefore, increasingly lost its original function, but developed into an important part of book decoration. As a result, they served exclusively decorative and representative purposes.

Printer's marks are to be distinguished from print marks.

Development and function

The oldest printer Signet used probably Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer anno 1462 in its 48 -line Latin Bible. The first printer brands were made ​​of wood or metal cutting, as these high-pressure techniques could be combined perfectly with the typographic letterpress.

The printing units of the incunabula period still appeared without title page. Instead, often the first printer added their writings a final text in containing further information about the authorship and the detailed circumstances of the creation of the work. The information in the so-called colophon (also: Explicit) but were not always complete. Only in the last three decades of the 15th century complete imprints were common, containing the name of the printer, the donors and the publisher, the place of publication and an exact date. In connection with these pressure notes pictorial representations and symbols, which apportion publications as a product of a very specific workshop appeared more frequently as early as the incunabula period. This pictorial copyright certificates are referred to as printer brands, printer character printer or signets.

At the time of their creation, the printer brands mainly served as legal symbols, which should protect the products against the Offizin a very widespread illegal reprint. In addition, the logos were regarded as symbols that vouched for craftsmanship and quality of content. The fundamental difference to the trademarks of the merchants was the vividness of the printer brands. While the trade marks were quite simple noticing signs and served merely as property and proof of origin, lived elaborately designed printer Signeten still holds a deeper meaning. Your imagery referred to the educational aspiration of printing and symbolized the close intellectual connection between the author and the work.

In the incunabula period and the following centuries there still existed no generally valid and binding copyright, printer's marks were their original function to protect the printing works as a legal symbol against illegal reprint, do not meet in a satisfactory manner. Therefore, the application, meaning and design of the printer character developed into a whole new direction. They were now the representation for the signet leading companies and have been an integral part of the artistic and aesthetic book design. Accordingly, the still quite simple Signet forms and motifs of the 15th century's most emblematic and narrative representations of the 16th century developed. To what an important part of book design, the printer brands and its successor, the publishing signets were, can be gauged from the fact that in the 16th and 17th century books without signet impression formed the absolute exception.

Historical Development

Although the earliest publications mostly still closely which are basically in their typographical and artistic design of the manuscripts of the Middle Ages, the printer brands have no direct model in the manuscript tradition. They are without a doubt a development of the printing workshops of the 15th century. According to current knowledge, the oldest printer brand is under the colophon of the completed on August 14, 1462 48 -line Biblia latina from the Mainz Offizin by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer. Fust and Schöffer Signet, which showed two hanging on a piece of branch coats of arms, was soon taken from other printers model for the design of your own printer character.

During the 15th century, the printer brands still had relatively small sizes and were mainly formed from coat of arms or house brands, logos created in the following century with diverse and richly ornamented image content. Due to the functional change of the printer brands of legal representative symbols for book decoration is an artistic competition got under way, in which all signet leading companies were trying to develop a particularly beautiful, artistically independent and individually tailored printer character. Thus, a variety of graphic miniature works of art was created during the 16th century, which were rich in symbols, allegories, and figurative representations. This led sometimes even cause the actual logo design was urged by the exuberant decorative elements in the background.

While in the early days of printing the professions of printer, publisher and bookseller were mostly still united in one and the same person ( printer publisher ), it came in the sequence with respect to this type of activity to an extensive specialization. In the course of this development occurred in the late 16th century printer's marks in favor of publishing signets (also: publisher brands) back. With the beginning of the 17th century was accompanied by an increasing flattening of the artistic design of the signets. In the 18th and 19th century, this then took more and more the form of small vignettes. Soon it was completely dispensed with them. It was not until the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, the publishing signets came on again. As motives mostly simplifications historical logo, simple symbols or monograms were elected. Printer's marks were already long gone at this time from the books.