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Printer's Device (Signet)

Printer's device of N. Kesler Printer's device of O. Scotus

Printers often put a specific woodcut ornamental design on the title page or the last page of the books they printed. This design was used as the trademark of their printing house, and is called the "printer's device." Fust and Schöffer were the first to use a printer's device, which appears in their Biblia Latina (1462) as twin shields hanging from a tree branch. This design became a model for the other printers' devices such as that of U. Han of Rome and N. Kesler of Basel. The successors of N. Jenson of Venice used a different form of printer's device consisting of a circle and straight lines arranged in a rectangle.

Bibliographers started collecting and recording printers' devices in the 18th century. In the 19th century, M.L. Polain and L.-C. Silvestre published a collection of them. In his Typenrepertorium der Wiegendrucke (1905-24), K. Haebler, a German incunabula scholar, described the printer's devices used by each printer. In Der Bilderschmuck der Frühdrucke (1920-43), A. Schramm reproduced almost all of the German printers' devices.

In the early 16th century, prominent publishers such as Aldus, Froben, Giunta and Plantin began to use unique printer's devices, prompting the creation of various designs. Edit16, a database of books published in Italy in the 16th century, includes more than 1,000 printers' devices, making it possible to search for data on printers' devices used in this period.

A collection of printers' devices in J. Ames: "Typographical antiquities" (1749) A collection of printers' devices in P. A. Orlandi: "Origine e progressi della stampa" (1722) A collection of printers' devices in T. H. Horne: "An introduction to the study of bibliography" (1814)
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