Printers' and publishers' devices flourished from the 15th century through the end of the 17th century, although they certainly did not fall into disuse; modern presses and fine presses still display devices. They could be simple symbols, allegorical vignettes, rebuses, or symbolic references to the printer's name or self-perception. They could be somber or witty. They were an early trademark and as such, susceptible to forgery and appropriation. One firm could have several different or variant devices. All of them are relevant to the history of the book.
There are many good reference sources for printers' devices, but there is not a unified source and not a comprehensive collection online. This web site is an attempt to provide digital access to printers' devices and solicits participation.
Before searching the database, please look at the Explanation of the Printers' Devices Form before consulting the Help page.
Institutions and individuals who wish to contribute should consult the Guide on how to participate.
The database is currently small, but will continue to grow. An agreement has been reached with the Universitat de Barcelona to collaborate. Their printers' device database, the Marques d'impressor, is very extensive, is linked directly to their online catalog, has active links from both the standard and alternative forms of a printer's name, and the dates of activity. The database is also expanding into modern small and fine presses. The first volume of James Lamar Weygand's three volumes of modern printers' devices has been incorporated. The University of Chicago has given permission to add the devices that appear on the cover of their publication Library Quarterly. These can be accessed as a unit by typing "LQ" in the keyword section of the Search page.
This page is maintained by the Rare Book section of the Dept. of Special and Area Studies Collections at the University of Florida.