Site Graphics Info

Dolphin and Anchor Device

bleft

The dolphin and anchor device used by the Venetian scholar-printer Aldus Manutius (ca. 1449-1515) "is perhaps the most celebrated of all printers' marks. It is singularly graceful in design, eminently characteristic of the distinguished scholar who first adopted it, and is affixed to a series of works which contributed more than those of any single printer or family of printers to the progress of learning and literature in Europe." (Christie, 247)

The classical motto for which the device serves as an emblem is "Festina lente" (Suetonius, Augustus 25.4, and Aulus Gellius 10.2.5), meaning "hasten slowly."Aldus began to use the device in 1501, and it appears in a second variation in his Dante of August 1502.

The version of the device adopted for use in connection with the Devers Program in Dante Studies appears on the recto of the second title page from the second Dante issued by Aldus shortly before his death with the assistance of his son-in-law, the printer Andrea Torresani, in 1515, where the name "Dante." is set in type above the woodcut device. (Click for larger image.)

References:

  • R. C. Christie, Selected Essays and Papers of Richard Copley Christie, ed. William A. Shaw (London: Longmans, Green, 1902), esp. the study titled "The Aldine Anchor."
  • Harry George Fletcher, New Aldine Studies (San Francisco: Bernard Rosenthal, 1988), pp. 43-59, esp. pp. 48-49, where the variation of the device used on the secondary title page of the 1515 Aldine Dante appears as No. 5.