Printers' Marks, Doheny Reading Room

The Doheny Reading Room ceiling contains marks of 14 printers important in the history of book-making.

Read from left to right they are the symbols used by Fust and Schaeffer, Juan de Rosenbach, Juan Froben, Richard Pynson, the St. Albans Printers, Guy Marchant, Jean du Pre, William Caxton, J. Treschel, Aldus Manutius, Juan de Colonia and Nicolas Jenson, John Siberch, Berthold Rimbolt, and again Fust and Schaeffer and Juan de Rosenbach. Above the desk on the side wall the fifth mark is that of John Scolar. Because of William Caxton's importance in English printing, his mark is prominent, above the clock.

The mark of Fust and Schaeffer [Johann Fust and Peter Schoffer] consists of two printer's rules in saltaire on two shields hanging from a stump, the two rules on the right shield forming an angle of 45 degrees. They printed the first book to contain a printer's mark. This was the Psalter issued at Mainz in 1457. This book is noteworthy further as being the third book printed and the first to bear a date:



Juan de Rosenbach, important in book making in Spain, printed in Barcelona in 1493-1498:

Juan Froben, at Basel, printed the works of Erasmus. He employed Hans Holbein to illuminate his texts:


Richard Pynson, issued some two hundred books between 1493 and 1527. He used several marks - the one in the room is one of them:


The unknown printer of St. Albans was the first to use a printers' mark in England. This one was used in the "English Chronicle" printed in 1483:

The Marchant family published in Paris for more than three hundred years from 1481 to 1789. The first of the line was Guy Marchant. His mark, a rebus, is based on the words "Sola fides suffcit". The sola is represented by two musical notes, sal and la, and the idea of one faith is represented by two hands joined:

The du Pre family are likewise celebrated in the history of printing in France. Their activity extends from 1486-1775. The founders, Jean and Galliot are the most celebrated:

On Nov. 18, 1477, the history of printing in English began with William Caxton's issuing of the first book printed in English. He did not, however, use a mark until 1489. His mark is a very beautiful one. It first appeared in his second folio edition of the "Ordinale":

The Aldine family of Venice is important in the history of book-making. The founder, Aldus Manutius, printed from 1494-1515. He first used a mark in 1502 in an edition of "Le Terze Rime di Dante":

Juan de Colonia [JOhannes de Colonia] published in conjunction with Nicolas Jenson:

John Siberch was the first printer at Cambridge:

Bertholt Rimbolt [Berthold Rembolt] is perhaps the first printer in France to use a mark. Of the four devices which he used at different times, the rarest is here reproduced:

John Scolar, an early Oxford printer, was from 1518 the official printer of the university:

Johannes [Jehan] Treschel:

10/1999, updated 04/2016||| Back to Doheny Memorial Library page