Shop signs, printers' marks and mottos

In order to make themselves easily recognisable by their customers, publishers adopted distinctive signs and symbols. First was the shop sign, which either hung out front or was painted on the shop wall. The image was chosen carefully: the "Soleil d'Or" (Golden Sun) suggested the enlightening qualities of books; the "Ange Lié" (Bound Angel) recalled the name of its owner, Arnoul Langelier; and "La Gallée" (The Galley which reminiscent of both the typesetting tool and the name of the owner, Galliot du Pré.

The printer's mark primarily functioned as a sort of logo, allowing customers to immediately identify who created a book

Bookshops also sought to make their wares easily identifiable, and for this they made use of a printer's mark. This was a woodblock engraving, initially placed at the end of the book along with the colophon, and then later (starting in the early 16th century) on the title page. The printer's mark primarily functioned as a sort of logo, allowing customers to immediately identify who created a book. The images used in marks were not left to chance: sometimes they were rebus-like, suggesting the name of the publisher. Thus, a toret (drill) was used by Geoffroy Tory a cheval (horse) by Claude Chevallon conils (rabbits) by Simon de Colines and the image of Saint Denis by Toussaint Denis. An image could also echo the bookshop's sign: Jean Dallier, who set up shop "at the sign of the White Rose", chose a rose for his mark, and Chrétien Wechel, used a winged horse, which was also the name of his bookshop. More rarely, the mark could directly depict the work of the printer, such as that of Josse Bade, whose printing workshop figures on his printer's mark. Robert Estienne chose an olive tree as a sign of recognition of his grandmother, Laure de Montolivet, who was from Provence, and the motto "Noli altum sapere sed time" (Be not high-minded, but fear").

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