The Roycroft Name and Mark
From An American Original
The name Roycroft and the Roycroft mark have a somewhat fuzzy history. Elbert Hubbard, always the salesman, said the name hearkened back to medieval times and was translated as "Kings Craft." The cross and orb mark, he said, was an adaptation of one used by a Benedictine monk. Supposedly, the circle represented unity and the cross, sincere religious duty and privilege. However, according to Paul McKenna, author of A History and Bibliography of the Roycroft Print Shops, the name Roycroft was already being used by East Aurora printer Harry Taber when Hubbard partnered with him in 1895. McKenna's research found that Taber had gotten the name from a new font that had been developed and named after two brothers who were printers in England during the 16th century. The first Roycroft mark was used on the title page of Song of Songs published by the Roycroft Press in 1895. According to Taber, "The Roycroft Mark was adapted from a similar emblem found in a book of Printer's Marks published by Scribner's about 1894." Taber goes on to write that "I deliberately cribbed this, inserting the letter 'R' in the lower hemisphere of the circle, had it engraved and used it as the Roycroft device." The explanation is not nearly as romantic as Hubbard's but certainly seems much closer to the truth.