A colophon or printers mark originated during the Renaissance and usually appeared on the title page of a book.
Perhaps one of the most recognized printers marks belonged to Aldus Manutius, the leading publisher and printer of the Venetian High Renaissance. Manutius is credited with the development of the first italic type as well as small pocket editions (octavos). His mark, of a dolphin and an anchor, similar to the old Doubleday mark, was one of the first, and best known of colophons.
Other well known colophons, such as the Knopf Borzoi and the Random House logo had numerous designs done by the likes of Paul Rand, Rockwell Kent, DW Dwiggins, Rudolph Ruzicka, Bruce Rogers and Chip Kidd.
These particular publishers marks, done mostly in the '40s and '50s, while certainly not classical nor formal, reflect the spirit of the times as well as capturing the nature of the books. The colophons in this collection were compiled by Bruce Black and are a selection from his wonderful site.
Eric Baker Design Associates is a Manhattan-based design firm established in 1986. Eric teaches the history of graphic design and corporate identity at the School of Visual Arts, and has twice received National Endowment for the Arts Grants for independent design history projects. He is inveterate collector of books and ephemera. Editor's Note: All images link to their original source and are copyright their original owners.