At the end of the summer we completed cataloguing the Private Presses within the Cardiff Rare Books collection. With a wide range of presses represented we also had a delightful array of (modern) printer’s devices. Printer’s devices are symbols or vignettes that identify the printer or press, acting as their trademark. Fust and Schöffer were the first to use such a device in 1462 and by the end of the 15th century the idea was firmly established. Ranging from simple designs based around initials, to much more elaborate engravings, devices were useful and popular for several hundred years. Originally conceived to help prevent against the pirating of books, the opportunity to produce ornamental designs was soon grasped. Placed in the colophon or on the title-page the devices advertised who was responsible for the book. In the modern period the printer’s device has mainly been replaced by publisher’s logos, and even by the end of the 19th century they were not utilised to a great extent.
The exception to this was with the private presses that emerged as part of the Arts and Crafts movement, and were attempting to create books that were objects of beauty. The presses embraced the concept of printer’s devices and devised many artful creations, reflecting their names, intials, locations and concepts.