Signets, coats of arms, or pictures printed, from engravings, at the end of a book or, later, on the title-page. Their use dates from soon after the invention of printing. The seals of the printers or the coats of arms of the city were frequently employed. The book-mark often suggests the meaning of the name of the printer; e.g., the deer of "Ẓebi." The first well-known book-marks are found in the works printed in the Pyrencan peninsula: the Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim of 1485 has a lion erect on a black shield; the Ṭur Yoreh De'ah of 1487, a lion erect on a red shield; and the Pentateuch completed in 1490 has a lion battling with a horse. The Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim of Leiria, 1495, has a ram with a superscription.Specimens of Printers' Marks.
Italian incunabula have no book-marks. Among the editions brought out at Constantinople in the sixteenth century mention should be made of the "Toledot Adam we-Ḥawwah" (Constantinople, 1516) and Jacob ben Asher's Pentateuch commentary (Constantinople, 1514), the first having a small white lion on a black square at the end of the book, the latter the same device on the title-page. The Soncino editions that appeared at Rimini from 1521 to 1526 have the coat of arms of Rimini—a castle, to which a Hebrew inscription was added. The editions of Gersonides at Prague show the priestly hands with the signature of the printer, a similar device being later in Proops' editions at Amsterdam. In the 1540, and earlier, Prague editions of the Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim there is a crown over a city gate (the coat of arms of Prague). The peacock is found in the editions of Foa issued at Sabbionetta and Mantua, and in those of Di Gara at Venice; a lion with two tails and two imperial globes was used at Safed, 1587, and for a long time in the Prague editions. A beast, half lion and half eagle, with crowns, is found in the Batsheba editions, Salonica, 1592-1605; a griflin, in those of Grypho, Venice, 1564-67; an elephant with the legend "Tarde sed Tuto," in those of Cavalli, Venice, 1565-1568; a deer, in editions of Cracow, Lublin, and, later, Offenbach; fishes, in the editions of Isaac Prossnitz, Cracow; fishes with ewers, in those of Uri Phoebus, Amsterdam. Di Gara of Venice used several book-marks—the peacock, three crowns (used also by Bragadini and in Cremona), and a woman crushing a hydra. The last was used also by Bomberg in the Venice, 1545, Sifre.
The seven-branched candlestick, with signature, was used by Meïr Firenze, Venice, 1545-75. Foa, in Sabbionetta, sometimes used a blossoming palm with two lions depending from it and with an inscription; a similar device was adopted later in Wilhermsdorf. Small or large representations of the Temple were often used—at first by Giustiniani at Venice, 1545, next in Safed and Lublin, and then in Prague, as late as 1627, by Abraham Lemberger. The larger ones bear an inscription taken from Haggai (ii. 9), displayed on an extended scroll. St. George and the dragon appear in Dyhernfurth editions as late as the nineteenth century. The castle, star, and lion found in Benveniste's editions, Amsterdam, were imitated in Dessau, Coethen, Altona, etc. The representation of Cain as Hercules, with an inscription, is found after the preface in two of Back's editions (Prague). In those of Offenbach, Fürth, and Wilhermsdorf the date of printing can often be determined by the book-marks. In the nineteenth centurythe signature of the printer took the place of the engravings, Wolf Heidenheim at Rödelheim, Schmidt at Vienna, and many others marking their editions in that way.
- Steinschneider and Cassel, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. section ii., part 28, pp. 25 et seq.;
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. section iii.;
- Freimann, Hebräische Incunabcln, Leipsic, 1902.