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The mythical bird Hamsa , signet of the Burmese King Alaungphaya on the golden letter from 1756.

The signet [ zɪnˈjeː ], also: [ zɪˈɡnɛt ] ( Latin signum " sign ") is a visual sign. The requirements for logos depend on the function, the target group , but also on epoch-making styles. Modern signets or signets are usually made up of basic geometric shapes that can be grasped quickly. The recognition and sympathy are other criteria for Signet design. Signet development is a specialty of graphic design . Heraldry is one of the historical roots of the signet . Lots of modern heraldic symbols are designed as a signet.

In the art trade and in art history, people still speak of the “signet” of a painter, picture or sculpture in relation to the author's signature - pictographic or written .


Signet (1580) of the theologians Thomas Erastus and Johann Jakob Grynaeus

Signet was originally the designation for printer and publisher's marks, which were attached to the end of the book - later on its title - and were intended to guarantee the quality of the product. Medieval notaries have also used their own personal notarial signet since the 11th century . These forerunners have in common with our current company brands or signets that they represent a very complex statement in a simplified, reduced form:

  1. the identification or marking of the manufacturer or service provider,
  2. the function of legal certification ,
  3. the consistent quality of the product, and
  4. the differentiation from the competition.

Signet (trademark)

As trade expanded in the Mediterranean region (from around 800 BC), the use of identifying marks such as pottery, stonemason and goldsmith marks increasingly developed. Other precursors of trademarks were the branding of livestock, which guaranteed the identity of their owners and thus ensured the uniqueness of the animals on the market. Such identification or ownership marks had the pragmatic function of identifying the goods, the owner or the manufacturer. In addition, these marks could also represent the quality value of the products of a particular grower or craftsman. The symbols used have established themselves more as figurative symbols than word symbols in order to be understood beyond national borders. Today trademarks are also called logos.

See also


  • Annemarie Meiner: The German logo. A contribution to cultural history. German Association for Book Studies and Literature, Leipzig 1922 (also: Leipzig, university, dissertation, from January 17, 1922).
  • Angela Nuovo: The book trade in the Italian Renaissance. Leiden / Boston 2013 (= Library of the Written Word, 30)
  • Henning Wendland: printer's mark. In: Severin Corsten (Ed.): Lexicon of the entire book system. LGB 2. Volume 2: Buck - Foster. 2nd, completely revised and expanded edition. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-7772-8911-6 , p. 367.
  • Henning Wendland: Signet. German printer and publisher's mark 1457–1600. Schlueter, Hannover 1984, ISBN 3-87706-189-3 .
  • Anja Wolkenhauer: Too difficult for Apollo. Antiquity in humanistic printer's marks of the 16th century (= Wolfenbütteler Schriften zur Geschichte des Buches. Vol. 35). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2002, ISBN 3-447-04717-8 (also: Hamburg, University, dissertation, 2000).
  • Anja Wolkenhauer: Rassegna delle fonti per lo studio delle marche tipografiche nei libri antichi ('400-'600). Research report in: Paratesto. Rivista internazionale 3 (2006) 61-69.
  • Reinhard Würffel: Lexicon of German publishers from A – Z. 1071 publishers and 2800 publisher's signets from the beginning of book printing to 1945. Addresses, dates, facts, names. Verlag Grotesk, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-9803147-1-5 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Signet  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Entry on Signet in Duden