The Gutenberg press began a communication revolution that
facilitated the Reformation, ushered in the Renaissance, and
changed forever the way information is disseminated. A recent
description compared the societal influence of a center of
medieval printing in France to the information technology
revolution spawned in Silicon Valley in California today.
Printing presses and printers were to that era what computers
and computer technology are to the information age today.
Printers were scholars, linguists, and craftsmen. Sometimes,
they were all three. In the 15th Century, printers
with their presses introduced mass communication to Western
society and changed forever the future of Western civilization.
Early printer-owner operators protected their workmanship by
identifying it with an elaborate design that branded the printed
item as one that had the high quality and accuracy for which
they wished to be noted. These craftsmen used emblems symbolic
of their business location, craft, name, personal experience, or
ancestry. These emblems are referred to as “marks” or
“colophons.” Colophons were originally put at the end of a
publication and served a purpose similar to the title page. With
the introduction of the title page, the marks became smaller and
were located on that title page.
These artistic and symbolic printer’s colophons (marks) were
popular library decorations during the early part of the
Twentieth Century. As decorative devices in libraries, they were
reproduced in metal, glass, stained glass, wood and plaster.
painted and carved
on ceilings and walls and even reproduced on windows in stained
glass in American libraries. Thus, Ms. Sadie Kent, the
University’s first full-time librarian (years of full-time
service, 1910-1943), chose printers marks for decorations in the
new library . Certainly, the printing press made possible
libraries for the general population. Ms. Kent selected marks
for the windows based on the importance of that printer to the
history of printing. Her explanation given to a reporter for the
Capaha Arrow at that time explained:
“The printers’ marks were
placed here to commemorate the beginning of the art of book
making, an art upon which this institution is founded.”
The decision was made to imitate the stained glass window
treatments at Northwestern's
Deering Library (image),
Duke University Chapel (additional
Yale's Sterling library (additional
information). The stained glass artist for
these works of art was G. Owen Bonawit
of New York. The Deering Library features 68 window medallions,
Yale’s Sterling Library contains 3,301, and Duke University
Chapel has 77 of Bonawit’s creations.
G. Owen Bonawit, a native of Brooklyn, studied at Pratt
Institute in Brooklyn. At the age of 26, he was chosen by the
Architectural League of New York to appear in the 1917 Annual
Exhibition. After receiving this prestigious recognition, his
position as a stained glass artist was secure. He became
affiliated with the architect James Gamble Rogers when they
collaborated on the remodeling of the Mr. and Mrs. Edward S.
Harkness house. After that Rogers was Mr. Harkness’s architect
of choice. Bonawit was Roger’s stained glass artisan of choice.
When Harkness funded
buildings on university campuses, the
hiring of Rogers as the architect was often part of the deal.
This gave Bonawit many opportunities for commissions in stained
glass. According to former Yale librarian, Gay Walker, in her
Brilliance All around: the
Stained Glass of Sterling and Its Maker,
at the Sterling Memorial Library anniversary celebration,
“Bonawit was recognized by his peers as one of the most talented
craftsman and artist of his time.”
(The windows in Kent are mentioned on page 12.)
an artist, he is described by his biographer, Gay Walker in her
Bonawit, Stained Glass, and Yale
as being "well respected in his field . . . shy and modest."
For Bonawit’s stained glass work, he used two methods for his
designs. One method was to create glass designs with colored
glass as in Duke Chapel. The second method was used for much of
his secular work.
For this technique, Bonawit used a medieval method that combined
deep brown paint with silver stain to produce a range of golden
tones when fired to the glass. The designs were outlined or
washed in dark brown paint, which was made of ground glass and a
flux. Yellow and gold colors were produced by applying silver
oxide or chloride stain to the back of the panels in varying
concentrations and by firing the glass. The brown paint wash
used to shade figures was modeled by "stickwork," a medieval
technique in which fine highlights are made by delicate
scratching to remove the wash. This “stickwork” is evident in
many of the panels Bonawit completed for Kent Library.
Bonawit made preliminary sketches of the proposed designs for
the Southeast library for Ms. Kent to present to the board. The
board approved these sketches and the cost.
These sketches were also used to illustrate the 1939 dedication
booklet. Bonawit did drawings of possible placement for the
sketches in some of the windows. Additionally, Bonawit did an
architectural rendering of the south elevation of the library
with the south reading room windows showing possible placement
for the stained glass.
The Bonawit stained glass panes illustrating the history of
printing illuminated the windows of the Kent Library reading
room from 1939 to 1968. In 1968, the panes were put into walnut
frames and displayed on the mezzanine of the renovated library
until 2007 when they were removed for safety during library
*Dates shown are from the date on
the art glass which usually represents when
the press first printed under that printer's
Stained glass panes with
Click on image for larger view.
enlargement from photo at left
This stained glass panel carries the signature
of the artist. This was the library bookplate
based on the college seal and was designed by a
member of Southeast's Art Department. The open
book on the seal reads, "A library is the heart
of the institution it serves," a popular library
motto at that time.
Click on image for night view.
Kent Library as it appeared
shortly after being dedicated on November 7, 1939.
The arrangement of the 18 1/2" x 24 1/2" stained
glass panes depicting printers' marks is visible in
the nine north facing 15' tall windows of the
original reading room. Two south facing windows
contained three more panes each. These 33 stained
glass panes represent 37 early printers beginning
with a depiction of Gutenberg and his press. G. Owen
Bonawit, a well-known artist of the early 20th
Century, collaborated with Miss Kent and the Board
of Regents on the designs. This was one of his last
major commissions before he closed his stained glass
studio in New York in 1941 and went west to do
photographic work for the government at Parker Dam.
Click image for close-up view.
This view from inside the reading room was taken
from the first west window above the main door of
the original library. Click on the window to view a
detailed photo of the three printers marks located
there. The stained glass window panels are black and
sepia accented with sparing touches of gold and red.
Thirty-three stained glass panels depicting
thirty-seven printers' marks represent European,
English, and American printers. The windows
themselves are approximately 15 feet tall and weigh
one and a half tons. The east and west facing
reading room windows were 17 feet tall. The west
facing window was located where the library mural is
across from the Circulation desk.
According to an email from Gay Walker, former Yale librarian and
G. Owen Bonawit scholar, Bonawit probably
accompanied the windows to Cape Girardeau and did
the installation work himself since at that time he
was in the process of disbanding his studio and no
longer had any artisans employed.
Kent library viewed from the southwest corner during
the 1968 remodeling. Three stained glass window
panels depicting printers' marks were in the back
(south) facing Reading Room window. The west end
window held six stained glass panels. The east end
and southeast Reading Room windows also held stained
glass panels. The east end depicted scenes relating
to Mark Twain and the southeast window contained
three more printers' marks panes. This snap shot was
made about 1968 when the library expansion was being
done. There are
architectural renderings done by G. Owen
Bonawit of the south side of the library. These drawings are housed in Special
Collections and Archives along with an original
photograph of the south view of the library which
contained the stacks.
One of three stained glass
printers' marks located in the original Kent Library
reading room southwest corner window.
Click for larger view of this
stained glass panel.
The translucent stained-glass
panels are much lighter and brighter than depicted
in this particular stained glass photo.
Gutenberg (ca. 1400-1468)
taking a proof from the first printing press. This
stained glass picture is based on painting by L. G.
Ferris. It is not a printer's mark. Gutenberg
invented movable single letter metal type. Movable
type was first used in Mainz, Germany in 1450.
Special Collections and Archives has a facsimile of
the 641 unnumbered page Gutenberg Bible, the first
work of this press. The Library of Congress owns a
first edition of this Bible. This stained glass pane
was located in the southwest window of the original
Kent Library reading room.
goldsmith, loaned Gutenberg money for his press.
Gutenberg could not repay the loan, and Fust took
over the press. In the lower half of the stained
glass pane is the first printer's mark developed by
Johann Fust and his son-in-law, Peter
who worked as a printer for Gutenberg. They were the
first to use a mark. This mark is two shields with
printers' rules. It is usually done in red.
Schöeffer is the first to record the place, date of
printing and name of printer in his books. This mark
is still used today as the emblem of the
International Association of Printing House
Click for larger view of this
stained glass panel.
Caxton's and de Worde's marks
share a stained glass panel because like Gutenberg
and Fust, Caxton's business successor was de Worde.
This stained glass panel shared a place in the
southwest window of the original reading room of
(c. 1415~1422 – c. March 1491), described as a
translator and a publisher, is credited with being
the first printer in England. He printed
nearly all English literature available to him then.
He is the third in date order whose mark is executed
by Bonawit in stained glass for Kent Library.
Caxton's press produced the first book printed in
the English language. "Caxton's chief aim was to
print for English scholars and students the best
literature. . .
Wynkyn de Worde
(died (1534/35) worked for Caxton, England's first
printer. Then he took over Caxton's business upon
Caxton's death. Worde was not a translator or a
scholar. He was interested in the commerce of
printing. He was the first in England to use italic
type(1524). During his career, de Worde used nine
variations of his mark.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia
Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica
Inc., 2013. Web. 05 Nov. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/100766/William-Caxton>.
"Wynkyn de Worde." Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia
Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 05 Nov. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/647956/Wynkyn-de-Worde>
Click for larger view of this
stained glass panel.
Click for view
(1442-1528), born in Augsburg in 1447 and died in
Augsburg in 1527, not an Italian by birth, Ratdolt was
one of the earliest if not the first Venetian
Listed are some of Ratdolt's "firsts:"
used gold colored ink
reproduced mathematical figures in his edition of Euclid in 1482
printed books mainly of mathematics and astronomy
used colored astronomical diagrams
first nudes printed
used ornamental borders on the printed pages
earliest example of title page in 1476
His mark shows Mercury holding entwined serpents.
The star indicates a planet.
First publisher of Euclid
Stained Glass . . .continued on
Researched and written by Linda Zimmer
Kent, Sadie T. with introduction by Parker, Dr. W.W.
sketches by Bonawit, G. Owen.
The Dedication of the New Library Building November 7, 1939.
Cape Girardeau, Mo. 1939.
The original Kent library building photographs used on these
pages are housed in Kent Library Special Collections and
Archives. The digital scans done by Archives of the original
library photographs were of such quality that the pictures
could be enlarged so that original locations of the stained
glass panes could be discerned. The stained glass window
photos were taken by David Glick or were digital copies the