About the College Library

Renaissance Printers' Marks

printer's mark is a device used for visual identification of the printer, his business, and, many times, his family. It could be considered as the first form of copyright to protect the intellectual contents and guarantee the quality of a book. In the beginning, during the mid-fifteenth century, these devices were very simple designs. However, by the mid-sixteenth century, they had evolved into a serious art form with ornate and complex patterns. There are fine examples of these marks on the dome of the Main Reading Room above the College Library Reference Desk.

This guide will help to locate and identify the printer; variations in the printer's name, which was often altered to be linguistically consistent with the country in which he worked; his working period; and the first known date of the device, if available.

For further information about the general architecture of the building, please ask at the reference desk for the Powell Library Building guide.