Printers’ Marks Society
The Printers’ Marks Society acknowledges the commitment of those individuals who have supported the Library through lifetime contributions in the amount of $5,000 or more. The Society consists of a group of giving “circles,” each designated by the mark or emblem of a prominent Renaissance printer. These marks are contained in a set of 27 stained-glass panels that adorn the windows of the Main Library building. Each one conveys a particular message, as indicated below.
The Printers’ Marks Society is based on total lifetime gifts to the Library. It complements the Library Friends Annual Fund Program. Both groups are critical to sustaining the Library’s mission and its excellence as one of the world’s greatest research collections.
The Verard Circle
A prolific printer, calligrapher, illuminator, and bookseller, Verard published continuously for approximately forty-five years, mostly romances, the first of which was Boccaccio’s Il Decamerone, issued in 1485. At the top of the mark is a shield bearing the French fleur-de-lis that symbolizes the spirit of knowledge. Underneath is a monogrammed heart held by two birds, most likely falcons, customarily used by early Parisian printers in their emblems. The lilies at the bottom of the mark represent France.
The Froben Circle
Froben’s trademark was a caduceus, held by two hands extending from clouds, with a crowned bird and crowned serpents’ heads. He introduced Roman letters in Germany and produced Erasmus’ edition of the New Testament in Greek. In 1520, Erasmus wrote of Froben and his printer’s mark, “If princes on this side of the Alps would encourage liberal studies with as much zeal as those of Italy, the serpents of Froben would not be so much less lucrative than the Dolphin of Aldus…”
The Manutius Circle
Among Italian publishers, none surpassed Aldus Manutius in scholarship, honor, and fame. To this humanist are owed the inventions of italic type (cursive script) and the small portable format of books. Because he wanted to widen the audience for contemporary literary works in the vernacular as well as for texts of classical antiquity, he is responsible, too, for issuing these at reasonable cost. The Aldine family press used a variety of marks throughout its existence (1492-1598), and all incorporate the anchor and dolphin image. This Aldine anchor, as it is known, first appeared in 1502 and is based on an ancient Roman coin or medal with the motto “Festia lente,” meaning “Make haste slowly.” The anchor represents stability, and the dolphin, grace and speed in execution. “Aldus M. R.” stands for Aldus Manutius Romanus to reflect the founder’s pride in being Roman-born.
The Birckmann Circle
In the early sixteenth century, Francis Birckmann established his internationally-connected family press in Cologne in pingui gallina, “at the sign of the fat hen,” in a street named Unter Fettenhennen. His brother Arnold Birckmann took over the business circa 1529 and ran it until his death in 1542. For some 250 years after that, descendents continued publishing humanistic treatises, including Tyndale’s New Testament, Sarum Missals, and other such works. Their mark appears in numerous variants, always with a depiction of a fat hen. The motto on the Library window border, “Utilia semper nova saepius profero,” translates as “I am always bringing forth useful things and often new things.”
University Librarian’s Circle
The University Librarian’s Circle mark was created at the launch of the Library Campaign in fall 2003. It honors the ongoing dedication of members of University Librarian’s Circle, a group originally designated as the University Librarian’s Council. The mark was patterned after the three arched doorways located at Main Library’s east entrance, which is inscribed with the phrase, “The whole world here unlocks the experience of the past to the builders of the future.” The orange orb symbolizes knowledge.