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Title: Old Tavern Signs - An Excursion in the History of Hospitality
Author: Endell, Fritz August Gottfried, 1873-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Old Dutch Signs From a Painting by Gerrit and
             Job Berkheyden]


An Excursion in the History of Hospitality



With Illustrations by the Author

Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
Printed at The Riverside Press Cambridge

Copyright, 1916, by Houghton Mifflin Company
All Rights Reserved

Published November 1916



    For a sign! as indeed man, with his singular imaginative
    faculties, can do little or nothing without signs.

The author’s love of the subject is his only apology for his bold
undertaking. First it was the filigree quality and the beauty of the
delicate tracery of the wrought-iron signs in the picturesque villages
of southern Germany that attracted his attention; then their deep
symbolic significance exerted its influence more and more over his
mind, and tempted him at last to follow their history back until he
could discover its multifarious relations to the thought and feeling
of earlier generations.

For the shaping of the English text the author is greatly indebted to
his American friends Mr. D. S. Muzzey, Mr. Emil Heinrich Richter, and
Mr. Carleton Noyes.


       I. HOSPITALITY AND ITS TOKENS                                 1
      II. ANCIENT TAVERN SIGNS                                      23
          MASTERS                                                  127
     VII. ARTISTS AS SIGN-PAINTERS                                 141
    VIII. THE SIGN IN POETRY                                       167
      IX. POLITICAL SIGNS                                          187
      XI. THE ENGLISH SIGN AND ITS PECULIARITIES                   235
     XII. THE ENEMIES OF THE SIGN AND ITS END                      259
    ENVOY: AND THE MORAL?                                          277
    BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                   291
    INDEX                                                          297


    OLD DUTCH SIGNS                                     _Frontispiece_
        _From a painting by Gerrit and Job Berkheyden_

    ZUM SCHIFF, IN STUTTGART                              _Title-Page_

    ZUM OCHSEN, IN BIETIGHEIM, WÜRTTEMBERG                          vi

    THE COCK, IN FLEET STREET, LONDON                                2

    ADAM AND EVE                                                     5
        _From an engraving by Hogarth_

    ELEFANT AND CASTLE, LONDON                                       7
        _From an old woodcut_

    ENGEL, IN MURRHARDT, WÜRTTEMBERG                                11


    ENGEL, IN WINNENDEN, WÜRTTEMBERG                                24

    ZUM RAD, IN RAVENSBURG, WÜRTTEMBERG                             37

    ZUM WILDEN MANN, IN ESSLINGEN, WÜRTTEMBERG                      38

    ROMAN TAVERN SIGN FROM ISERNIA, ITALY                           43


    LAMM, IN ERLENBACH, WÜRTTEMBERG                                 48

    ZUM RITTER, IN DEGERLOCH, WÜRTTEMBERG                           65

    THE GOOD WOMAN, OLD ENGLISH SIGN                                67

       IN ZÜRICH                                                    71

    ADLER, IN LEONBERG, WÜRTTEMBERG                                 76

    ZUM RÖSSLE, IN BOZEN, AUSTRIA                                   83

    LE CHAT QUI DORT, MUSÉE CARNAVALET, PARIS                       89

    AFFENWAGEN, OLD SWISS SIGN                                      91

    EAGLE AND CHILD, GUILDHALL MUSEUM, LONDON                      100

    KRONE, IN LEONBERG, WÜRTTEMBERG                                102

    THE FALCON, IN CHESTER, ENGLAND                                105

    THE OLD BLUE BOAR, IN LINCOLN, ENGLAND                         115

    ROSE, IN MURRHARDT, WÜRTTEMBERG                                121

    THE ROWING BARGE, IN WALLINGFORD, ENGLAND                      125

    THE TRUMPETER BEFORE A TAVERN                                  128
        _From a painting by Du Jardin in Amsterdam_

    A BAKER’S SIGN IN BORGO SAN DALMAZZO, ITALY                    135

    THE HALF-MOON                                                  136
        _From a painting by Teniers in London_

    ZUR POST, IN LEONBERG, WÜRTTEMBERG                             137

    A SIGN-PAINTER                                                 142
    _From an engraving by Hogarth_

    ENSEIGNE DU RÉMOULEUR, PARIS                                   153

    THE GOAT, IN KENSINGTON, LONDON                                163


    TRATTORIA DEL GALLO, IN TENDA, ITALY                           184

    ZUM LÖWEN, IN BIETIGHEIM, WÜRTTEMBERG                          186

    THE KING OF WÜRTTEMBERG, IN STUTTGART                          188

    ZUR KRONE, IN DEGERLOCH, WÜRTTEMBERG                           191


    THE DOG AND POT, IN LONDON                                     214

    ZUR POST, IN BIETIGHEIM, WÜRTTEMBERG                           218

    AUX TROIS LAPINS, OLD PARISIAN SIGN                            227

    LAMB AND FLAG, IN EAST BATH, ENGLAND                           236

    THE SWAN, IN WELLS, ENGLAND                                    238

    FOUR SWANS, IN WALTHAM CROSS, ENGLAND                          240

    SALUTATION INN, IN MANGOTSFIELD, ENGLAND                       244
        _A club sign from the museum in Taunton, England_

    THE PACK-HORSE, IN CHIPPENHAM, ENGLAND                         246

    ZUM HIRSCHEN, IN WINNENDEN, WÜRTTEMBERG                        253


    THREE SQUIRRELS, IN LONDON                                     262

    ZUR GLOCKE, IN WINNENDEN, WÜRTTEMBERG                          264

    ZUM SCHLÜSSEL, IN BOZEN, AUSTRIA                               267

    THE DOG IN SHOREDITCH                                          270
        _From a woodcut in “A Vademecum for Malt-Worms,”  in the
        British Museum_

    THE QUEEN, IN EXETER, ENGLAND                                  272

    ZUM STORCHEN, A MODERN SIGN IN BIETIGHEIM                      274

    ZUR TRAUBE, IN STUTTGART, KOLBSTRASSE 14                       276

    SONNE, IN NECKARSULM, WÜRTTEMBERG                              278

    AN OLD LANDLORD                                                281
        _From the “Schachbuch,” Lübeck, 1489_

    DEATH AND THE LANDLORD                                         283
        _From a Dance of Death printed in the Fifteenth Century,
        now in the Court Library in Stuttgart_

    ZUR SONNE IN WINNENDEN, WÜRTTEMBERG                            284

    THE GEORGE AND DRAGON, IN WARGRAVE, ENGLAND                    286

    ZUM POSTGARTEN, IN MÜNCHEN, BAVARIA                            289

    _The Cover-Design is from the sign of the “Goldene Sonne”
    in Leonberg, Württemberg_

Old Tavern Signs




Old Tavern Signs



    “Und es ist vorteilhaft, den Genius
      Bewirten: giebst du ihm ein Gastgeschenk,
    So lässt er dir ein schöneres zurück.
      Die Stätte, die ein guter Mensch betrat,
        Ist eingeweiht....”


    “To house a genius is a privilege;
    How fine so e’er a gift thou givest him,
    He leaves a finer one behind for thee.
    The spot is hallowed where a good man treads.”

Without a question, the first journey that ever mortals made on this
round earth was the unwilling flight of Adam and Eve from the Garden
of Eden out into an empty world. Many of us who condemn this world as
a vale of tears would gladly make the return journey into Paradise,
picturing in bright colors the road that our first parents trod in
bitterness and woe. Happy in a Paradise in which all the beauties of
the first creation were spread before their eyes, where no enemies
lurked, and where even the wild beasts were faithful companions, Adam
and Eve could not, with the least semblance of reason, plead as an
excuse for traveling that constraint which springs from man’s inward
unrest striving for the perfect haven of peace beyond the vicissitudes
of his lot.

And as Adam and Eve went out, weak and friendless, into a strange
world, so it was long before their poor descendants dared to leave
their sheltering homes and fare forth into unknown and distant parts.
Still, the bitter trials which the earliest travelers had to bear
implanted in their hearts the seeds of a valor which has won the
praise of all the spiritual leaders of men, from the Old Testament
worthies, with their injunction “to care for the stranger within the
gates,” to the divine words of the Nazarene: “I was a stranger, and ye
took me in.... Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto
one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Our first parents, naturally, could not enjoy the blessings of
hospitality. And still, in later ages, they have not infrequently been
depicted on signs which hosts have hung out to proclaim a hospitality
not gratuitous but hearty. So in one of Hogarth’s drawings, of the
year 1750, “The March of the Guards towards Scotland,” which the
artist himself later etched, and dedicated to Frederick the Great, we
see Adam and Eve figuring on a tavern sign. No visitor to London
should fail to see this work of the English painter-satirist. One may
see a copy of it, with other distinguished pictures, in the large hall
of a foundling asylum established in 1739, especially for the merciful
purpose of caring for illegitimate children in the cruel early years
of their life. This hall, which is filled with valuable mementos of
great men, like Händel, is open to visitors after church services on
Sundays. And we would advise the tourist who is not dismayed by the
thought of an hour’s sermon to attend the service. If he finds it
difficult to follow the preacher in his theological flights, he has
but to sit quiet and raise his eyes to the gallery, where a circlet of
fresh child faces surrounds the stately heads of the precentor and the
organist. At the end of the service let him not forget to glance into
the dining-hall, where all the little folks are seated at the long
fairy tables, with a clear green leaf of lettuce in each tiny plate,
and each rosy face buried in a mug of gleaming milk. This picture will
be dearer to him in memory than many a canvas of noted masters in the
National Gallery.

The present-day tourist who takes the bus out Finchley Road to hunt
up the old sign will be as sorely disappointed as if he expected to
find the “Angel” shield in Islington or the quaint “Elephant and
Castle” sign in South London. Almost all the old London signs have
vanished out of the streets, and only a few of them have taken refuge
in the dark sub-basement of the Guildhall Museum, where they lead a
right pitiable existence, dreaming of the better days when they hung
glistening in the happy sunshine. There were “Adam and Eve” taverns in
London, in “Little Britain,” and in Kensington High Street. In other
countries, France and Switzerland, for example, they were called
“Paradise” signs. A last feeble echo of the old Paradise sign lingers
in the inscription over a fashion shop in modern Paris, “Au Paradis
des Dames,” the woman’s paradise, in which are sold, it must be said,
only articles for which Eve in Paradise had no use.


Gavarni, who spoke the bitter phrase, “Partout Dieu n’est et n’a été
que l’enseigne d’une boutique,” made bold in one of his lithographs of
“Scènes de la vie intime” (1837) to inscribe over the gates of
Paradise, from which the “tenants” were flying: “Au pommier sans
pareil.” Schiller tells us that the world loves to smirch shining
things and bring down the lofty to the dust. This need not deter us
from reading in the old Paradise signs a reminder of the journey of
our first parents, and to enjoy thankfully the blessings of ordered
hospitality to-day.

Until this ordered hospitality prevailed, however, many centuries had
to elapse, and for the long interval every man who ventured out into
the hostile wilderness resembled Carlyle’s traveler, “overtaken by
Night and its tempests and rain deluges, but refusing to pause; who is
wetted to the bone, and does not care further for rain. A traveler
grown familiar with howling solitudes, aware that the storm winds do
not pity, that Darkness is the dead earth’s shadow.” Only the strong
and bold could dare to defy wild nature, especially when there was
need to cross desolate places, inhospitable mountains like the Alps.
So the ancients celebrated Hercules as a hero, because he was the
pioneer who made a road through their rough mountain world.

A still longer time had to elapse ere the traveler could rejoice in
the beauties of nature which surrounded him. The civilizing work of
insuring safe highways had to be done before what Macaulay names “the
sense of the wilder beauties of nature” could be developed. “It was
not till roads had been cut out of the rocks, till bridges had been
flung over the courses of the rivulets, till inns had succeeded to
dens of robbers ... that strangers could be enchanted by the blue
dimples of the lakes and by the rainbow which overhung the waterfalls,
and could derive a solemn pleasure even from the clouds and tempests
which lowered on the mountain-tops.”

No wonder, then, that the literature of olden times, when traveling
was so dangerous an occupation, is filled with admonitions to
hospitality. The finest example of it, perhaps, is preserved in the
Bible story of the visit of the angels to Abraham, and later to Lot.
This story deserves to be read again and again as the typical account
of hospitality. As is the custom to speak in the most modest terms of
a meal to which one invites a guest, calling it “a bite” or “a cup of
tea,” so Abraham spoke to the angels, “I will fetch a morsel of bread,
and comfort ye your hearts.” Then Abraham told his wife to bake a
great loaf, while he himself went out to kill a fatted calf and bring
butter and milk. In like fashion Lot extends his hospitality,
providing the strangers with water to refresh their tired feet, and in
the night even risking his life against the attacking Sodomites, to
protect the guests who have come for shelter beneath his roof.

The feeling that a guest might be a divine messenger, nay, even Deity
itself, continued into the New Testament times, as St. Paul’s advice
to the Hebrews shows: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for
thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” And did not the
disciples, too, at times, receive their Master as a guest in their
homes, the Son of Man, the Son of God? William Allen Knight has dwelt
on this thought very beautifully in his little book called “Peter in
the Firelight”: “The people of Capernaum slept that night with
glowings of peace lighting their dreams. But in no house where loved
ones freed from pain were sleeping was there gladness like in Simon’s;
for the Master himself was sleeping there.”

[Illustration: Murrhardt]

A later type of legend pictures the angels, not as guests, but as
benefactors, preparing a wonderful meal for starving monks who in
their charity have given away all their possessions to the poor, and
have no bread to eat. The tourist, walking through the seemingly
endless galleries of the Louvre, will pause a moment before the
beautiful canvas on which Murillo has depicted this story. The French
call it “la cuisine des anges.” It is a historical fact that many
cloisters were reduced to poverty in the Middle Ages on account of
their generous almsgiving. Not all of them could lay claim to the holy
Diego of Murillo’s painting, who could pray with such perfect trust in
Him who feeds the sparrows that angels came down from heaven into the
cloister kitchen to prepare the meal. The widespread popularity of
these Biblical stories and holy legends need cause no wonder that the
angel was a favorite subject for tavern signs in the Middle Ages, and
that even at this day he takes so many an old inn under the patronage
of his benevolent wings. It has been asserted that the angel sign
originated in the age of the Reformation, simply by leaving out the
figure of the Virgin Mary from the portrayal of the scene of the
Annunciation. But against this theory stands the fact that there were
simple angel signs in the Middle Ages as well as Annunciation signs.
We learn that the students of Paris in the year 1380 assembled for
their revels in the tavern “in angelo.” The records of these same
Parisian students tell us how they lingered over their cups in the
tavern “in duobus angelis,” in the year of grace 1449.

We may remark here in passing that the linen drapers’ guild in London
had as its escutcheon the three angels of Abraham. One need only to
recall the full, flowing garments of Botticelli’s angels to understand
in what great respect the linen merchant would hold the angels as good
customers of the drapery trade.

An angel in beggar’s form brought St. Julian the good news of the
pardon of the sins of his youth. In a wild fit of anger the headstrong
young Julian had killed his parents. As atonement for his dreadful
crime he had done penance and built a refuge in which for many long
years he freely cared for all travelers who came his way. At last the
angel’s reward of hospitality was vouchsafed to him, and in memory of
his good works tavern-keepers chose him as their patron saint.

The stern Consistory of Geneva had evidently forgotten all these
beautiful legends and their deep symbolical meaning, when in the year
1647 it forbade a tavern-keeper to hang out an angel sign, “ce qui est
non accoutumé en cette ville et scandaleux.” Perhaps the grave city
fathers of Geneva remembered their by-gone student days in Paris, and
the handsome angel hostess in the city on the Seine, where a
contemporary of Louis XIV celebrated in song:--

    “Un ange que j’idolâtre
    À cause du bon vin qu’il a.”

The most attractive angel tavern that the author has met in his
travels is in the quiet little English town of Grantham, although he
has to confess, in the words of the German song:--

    “Es giebt so manche Strasse, da nimmer ich marschiert,
    Es giebt so manchen Wein, den ich nimmer noch probiert.”

It was a sharp autumn day. The wind that whistled about the lofty
cathedral of Lincoln had searched us to the marrow, and we were well
content after our ride from the station to find a kindly welcome at
the “Angel.” The façade of the dignified tavern, which once belonged
to the Knights’ Templars, and which saw the royal guests, King John
in 1213, and King Richard III in 1483, entertained within its walls,
is one of the most splendid architectural monuments that we saw in
England. As everywhere in this garden-land, the ivy winds its green
arms around the stiffer forms of the English Gothic, which often lack
the warm picturesqueness of architectural detail that makes the
wonderful charm of the French and the South German Gothic.

Over the lintel of the door of the tavern the sculptured angel shone
resplendent in his golden glory. A charming little balcony rested on
his wings and his hands held out a crown of hospitable welcome to
royal and common guests alike. All these winged messengers of
hospitality seem to say in the words of the Old Testament: “The
stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among
you, and thou shalt love him as thyself: for ye were strangers in the
land of Egypt.”

The bitter experience of their own distress in a strange land planted
in the hearts of the Israelitish people a kindly feeling toward the
stranger. For all that, much was permitted in dealing with a stranger
which was forbidden in the case of a brother Israelite. The stranger
might be made to pay interest, and it was no infraction of the Mosaic
Law to make him and his children men-servants and maidservants.

While, then, the law of the exclusive Jews accorded certain rights to
the stranger which the children of Israel were warned not to impair,
the Græco-Roman world, on the other hand, recognized no claim of the
stranger. “Il n’y a jamais de droit pour l’étranger,” says Fustel de
Coulanges in “La Cité antique.” The same word in Latin means
originally both enemy and stranger. “Hostilis facies” in Virgil, means
the face of a stranger. To avoid all chance of encountering the sight
of a stranger while performing his sacred office, the Pontifex
performed the sacrifice with veiled face. In spite of this, the
stranger met with favorable consideration both at Athens and at Rome,
in case he was rich and distinguished. Commercial interests welcomed
his arrival and bestowed on him the “jus commercii”--(the right to
engage in trade). Yet he came wholly within the protection of the
laws only when he chose one of the citizens as his “patron.”

It seems as if it must have been embarrassing in those days to have
shown one’s “hostilis facies” in foreign lands and cities in the
course of a journey undertaken for pleasure or to seek the cures at
the bathing resorts. Still we know that the Romans, in their
enthusiasm for this kind of travel, built villas, theaters, temples,
and baths at some of the most celebrated watering-places of modern
days, like Nice and Wiesbaden.

The stiff and almost hostile attitude of classical antiquity toward
the stranger was relieved by the hospitable custom which made the
stranger almost a member of the family as soon as he had been received
at the family hearth and had partaken of the family meal. This
function was a sacred one among the ancients, for they believed that
the gods were present at their table: “Et mensæ credere adesse deos,”
says Ovid in the “Fastes.”

At especially festal meals it was the custom to crown the head with
wreaths, as in the case of the public meals, where chosen delegates of
the city, clad in white, met to partake of the food which was the
symbol of their common life of citizenship; or in the case of the
bridal meals, where the maiden, veiled in white, pledged herself
forever to the bridegroom. There was no rich wedding-cake, like those
common in England and America, but a simple loaf, “panis farreus,”
which after the common prayer they ate in common “under the eyes of
the family gods.” “So,” says Plato, “the gods themselves lead the wife
to the home of her husband.”

The custom of wearing a crown at solemn feasts was founded on the
ancient belief that it was well pleasing to the gods. “If thou
performest thy sacrifice [and the meal was a sacrifice] without the
wreath upon thy head, the gods will turn from thee,” says a fragment
from Sappho. The sense of the nearness of the gods at mealtime and the
beautiful old custom of pouring out a bit of wine for the invisible
holy guest, were preserved down to the time of the later Romans. We
find the custom in vogue with such old sinners as Horace and Juvenal.
We shall recall the significance of the wreath as a symbol when we
meet the ivy wreath later as a tavern sign.

But even in classical antiquity the exercise of free hospitality
demanded certain tokens to preserve it from abuse at the hands of
fraudulent strangers. For example, the so-called “tessera hospitalis,”
a tiny object in the shape of a ram’s head or a fish, was split in
halves and shared by each party to the agreement of hospitality. By
presenting his half of the “tessera” the stranger could always prove
his identity and his claims to a hospitable reception by the family to
which he came.

Other tokens were small ivory or metal hands carved with appropriate
inscriptions. The latter were also sometimes exchanged on the
negotiation of treaties between nations. In the medallion cabinet at
Paris there is one of these treaty-hands in bronze, commemorating a
treaty between the Gallic tribe of the Velavii and a Greek
colony--probably Marseilles. This hand of hospitality, like the
wreath, was a frequent motive in the development of the tavern sign.
In fact, it was so frequent in the German lands that the people were
accustomed to call the tavern, in figurative speech, the “place where
the good God stretched out his hands.” If we recall the deep symbolic
meaning of such signs, we shall not find this naïve expression of the
people shocking, like the Puritan Consistory at Geneva, whose
narrow-minded prohibition of the angel sign we have already noticed.

[Illustration: BESIGHEIM]

Now, before passing to the study of the origins of entertainment for
pay, with its signs (which were really the first tavern signs) let us
turn back to the old Germans, to note their idea of hospitality. The
German fathers, too, tell in a beautiful story of the reception of a
divine guest in the cottage of a mortal, and of a reward like that
which Abraham had for his spirit of friendly aid. In one of the
religious songs of the “Edda,” which probably originated in the
North-Scottish islands, we read how the god Heimdall, in the disguise
of a humble traveler, visited the hut of an aged couple, and was
honorably received by them:--

    “Then Edda brought forward a loaf of graham bread,
    Firm, thick and full of hulls;
    And more, too, she brought to the table,
    And set thereon the bowl of soup.”
                RIGSPULA, 4.

In the sayings of Hars (i.e., of Odin) the Lofty, the rule of
hospitality is stated:--

    “Hail to the Givers! a guest enters.
    Say where he shall sit.
    He cannot stay long
    Who must seek his living in the chase on snowshoes.

           *       *       *       *       *

    He who comes from afar needs fire,
    For his knees are stiff with the cold.
    He who has crossed the mountain cliffs,
    Needs food and clothing sore.
    Water and welcoming greeting he needs
    And the towel to dry him from the bath.”

So even the old Germans had felt the blessings of hospitality, and
received the angel’s reward. An old poet expressed it in a simple

    “A bit of bread, and the offer of the cup
      Won me a noble friend.”



[Illustration: Engel Winnenden, Württemberg]



    “La bourse du voyageur, cette bourse précieuse, contient tout
    pour lui, puisque la sainte hospitalité n’est plus là pour le
    reçevoir au seuil des maisons avec son doux sourire et sa
    cordialité auguste.”

    VICTOR HUGO (_Le Rhin_).

We must now take leave of “holy hospitality” which is written in the
hearts of men and truly needs no outward sign, and must follow Iago’s
counsel: “Put money in thy purse!” For our journey is no longer from
friend to friend, but from host to host and from sign to sign. Regret
it as we may, a hospitality for profit’s sake had to succeed the old
free hospitality of friends. The widening commerce of the Roman
world-empire could hardly have existed without a well-regulated
business of entertainment along those magnificent roads by which the
empire was bound together. The traveler was more and more unlikely,
with every extension of the area of his far journeyings, to find
houses to which he was bound by the friendly ties of genuine
hospitality; while he who remained quietly by his own fireside (“qui
sedet post fornacem”) would find the constantly increasing duties of
the voluntary host growing to be so great a burden that he would be
relieved to see the establishment of public inns. Indeed, he may
himself, at first, have sought relief by charging his guests a nominal
sum to defray their expense. At any rate, it would be very difficult
to fix an exact line between these two forms of entertainment, which
existed side by side for long ages of antiquity. Certain it is that at
some moment, we know not just when, there appeared the Pompeian
inscription over the tavern door: “Hospitium hic locatur.”
(Hospitality for hire.) That was the birth-hour of the tavern sign.

We cannot hide the fact that the beginnings of business hospitality
were of a very unedifying character, under the plague of Mammon. In
Jewish and Gentile society alike they must have been closely akin to
that kind of hospitality against whose smooth speech and Egyptian
luxury the wise old Solomon warned foolish youth in his Proverbs.
Witness the identical word in Hebrew to denote a courtesan and a
tavern hostess; witness Plato’s exclusion of the tavern-keeper from
his ideal republic; witness the reluctance of the respectable Greek
and Roman to enter a tavern. In the Berlin collection of antiques
there is a stone relief which has been pronounced an old Roman tavern
sign. On it the “Quattuor sorores,” or four sisters, are represented
as frivolous women. And there are charges entered on old Roman tavern
bills which could not possibly appear on a hotel bill to-day. Both the
rich and the poor were imbued with the spirit of Horace’s words:--

          “Pereant qui crastina curant,
    Mors aurem vellens: Vivite, ait, venio.”

          (Dismiss care for the morrow,
    Death tweaks us by the ear and says, Drink, for I come.)

This spirit reveals itself in a dance of death, which decorated the
beautiful silver tankards found in Boscoreale, a Pompeian suburb. And
so we must not be surprised to see later, during the Middle Ages, even
on tavern signs the grim figure of Death; as for example, on the
French tavern, “La Mort qui trompe.”

The magnificent frescoes of the rich in Pompeian art show us a
palatial feasting-hall with the inscription, “Facite vobis suaviter”
(Enjoy your life here); and at the same time the tavern guests for a
few pennies woo the philosophy of “carpe diem”--the careless
abandonment to pleasure that knows no concern for the morrow. Another
inscription found in Pompeii makes the tavern Hebe say: “For an as
[penny] I give you good wine; for a double as, still better wine; for
four ases, the famed Falerian wine of song.” To be sure, the wine was
often pretty bad in these greasy inns--Horace’s “uncta popina.” One
guest relieved his mind of his complaint by writing on the chamber
wall: “O mine host, you sell the doctored wine, but the undiluted you
drink yourself.” On the same wall, which seems to have served as a
kind of “guest-book” (“libro dei forestieri”) are the names of many
guests, one of whom complains in touching phrase that he is sleeping
far away from his beloved wife for whom he yearns: “urbanam suam

In spite of the contempt which ancient writers all manifest for these
wine-shops and inns, we remark that men of the senatorial order, like
Cicero, did not scorn at times to stop for a few hours on their
summer journey at some country inn like the “Three Taverns,” in the
neighborhood of Rome, to call for a letter or to write one. This was
the same “Tres Tabernæ” to which the Roman Christians went out to meet
the Apostle Paul, to welcome him with brotherly greetings after the
trials of his Christian Odyssey. We read in the Acts of the Apostles
how great his joy was when he saw them, and how “he thanked God and
took courage.” He had no need, however, of the tavern. The hospitality
of Christian fraternity, which he had praised so beautifully in his
message to the Roman community, now received him with open arms.

The very name “tavern,” which in its Latin original means a small
wooden house built of “tabulæ,” or blocks, indicates the very modest
origins of professional hospitality. And we must distinguish, in the
olden times as in the Middle Ages, between hospitality proper, which
takes the guest in overnight, and the mere charity which refreshes him
with food and drink and sends him on his way.

The original sign of the tavern-keeper is the wreath of ivy with
which Bacchus and his companions are crowned, and which twines around
the Bacchante’s thyrsos staff. As the ivy is evergreen, so is Bacchus
ever young (“juvenis semper”), Shakespeare’s “eternal boy.” As the ivy
winds its closely clinging vine around all things, so Bacchus enmeshes
the senses of men. Thus the custom grew of crowning the wine-jars with
ivy, a custom which Matthias Claudius, in his famous Rhine wine song,
has described thus:--

    “Crown with ivy the good full jars
      And drink them to the lees.
    In all of Europe, my jolly tars,
      You’ll find no wines like these.”

Now, whether a good wine really needed the recommendation of the
wreath was a question on which experts were not agreed. In general,
the ancients leaned to the opinion that “good wine needs no
bush”--“Vino vendibili suspensa hedera non opus est.” The French later
expressed the same idea in their proverb, “À bon vin point
d’enseigne”; though La Fontaine seems to have been of a different mind
when he said, “L’enseigne fait la chalandise.” And Shakespeare enters
the controversy in his epilogue to “As You Like It,” when he makes
Rosalind say, “If it be true that good wine needs no bush, ’tis true
that a good play needs no epilogue.” An English humorist, George
Greenfield of Henfield (whoever he may be), is fully of the opinion
that there is no need of the bush: “No, certainly not,” says he; “all
that is wanted is a corkscrew and a clean glass or two.”

It is perfectly natural that gloomy and distrustful natures like
Schopenhauer’s should have no confidence in the sign. He uses the word
“sign” always as a synonym for deceit. He calls academic chairs
“tavern signs of wisdom”; and illuminations, bands, processions,
cheers, and the like, “tavern signs of joy”--“whereas real joy is
generally absent, having declined to attend the feast.” Wieland shows
the same mistrust in his verses of Amadis:--

    “The finest looks prove only for the soul
    What gilded signs prove for the tavern-bowl.”

On the other hand, happy optimistic natures like Fischart’s, the
author of the famous “Ship of Fools” (“Narrenschiff”), and perhaps of
its jolly woodcuts as well, give full credence to a handsome sign.
“How shall you think,” says he, “that poor wine can go with so brave a
sign displayed, or that so neat an inn can harbor a slovenly host or

We can see what an important business the making of wreaths was in
ancient times by the place which the Amorettes, who were engaged in
this work, had in the favorite Pompeian wall frescoes, which portray
Cupids in varied activities. We look into the workshop where a small
winged figure is working industrially twining garlands; or into the
sale-shop where a tiny Psyche is asking the price of a wreath. The
winged saleslady answers her in the finger language which the Italians
still use: “Since it is you, pretty maiden, only two ases.”

A very favorite tavern sign in the later times also dates from high
antiquity, namely, the pentagram, triangles intersecting so as to make
this figure [* hexagram symbol]. The Pythagoreans held this as a
talisman of health and protection. The Northern myths called the sign
a footprint of a swan-footed animal. They called it the “Drudenfuss,”
and thought it would protect men against evil spirits like the
“Trude,” a female devil-nixie which harassed sleepers. We see the sign
in the study-scene in the first part of “Faust”; and remark how evil
spirits and the devil himself could slip into human habitations if the
pentagram before the door was not fully closed at the apexes--but had
a hard time getting out again. The elfish verses are well known:--

    “_Mephistopheles_: I must confess it! just a little thing
    Prevents my getting out beyond the threshold: That is the
    Drudenfuss before the door.

     “_Faust_: Ah, then the pentagram is in thy way! So tell me
     then, abandoned son of Hell, If that can stop thee how thou
     camest in; Can such a spirit be so tricked and caught!

     “_Mephistopheles_: Look closely! It is badly drawn: one angle,
     The one that’s pointing outward, is not closed.

     “_Faust_: Ah, that’s a lucky fall of fortune then; It makes
     thee willy-nilly captive here.”

Besides wreath and pentagram, we find among the ancients a third
customary sign of hospitality, namely, a chessboard, which invited the
passer-by to a game of draughts along with a draught of wine. The game
was not chess, for that came to Europe from the East in the
post-classical age. Hogarth’s engraving “Beerstreet” shows us that
this sign prevailed in old England, for the characteristic signpost in
front of the tavern door is painted in black and white checkered

Painted and carved animal images also served as signs in Roman times.
We have a few examples left, and the names of a great many more. In
Pompeii there was a little inn called the “Elephant,” in which one
could rent a dining-room with three couches and all modern comforts
(“cum commodis omnibus”). The sign represents an elephant, around
whose body a serpent is entwined, and to whose defense a dwarf is
running. It was an animal scene on an old sign that inspired Phædron
with his fable of the battle of the rats and the weasels; so the
author tells us at the opening of his poem: “Historia quorum et in
tabernis pingitur.” Perhaps the host of the “Elephant” had an ancestor
in the African wars, and in his honor chose the African animal as a
sign; just as the host of the “Cock,” in the Roman Forum, hung out for
a sign a Cimbric shield captured in the old wars against Germania. On
the shield he had painted a stately rooster with the inscription:
“Imago galli in scuto Cimbrico picta.” The choice of the elephant,
however, might be due simply to the preference which tavern-keepers
showed for strange and wonderful beasts. For the traveler would first
stop and stare at the queer animal, and then, like as not, turn in at
the door, half expecting that the wily host might be harboring the
very beast in real life. There was a grand elephant sign on a
Strassburg tavern, which invited to a hospitable table the young
students of the town, especially the law students--among them a young
man named Goethe. The elephant stood erect on his hind legs, and the
toast of the students was: “à l’élève en droit” (à l’éléphant droit).

Among other figures of animals on Roman signs the eagle was a great
favorite. The Romans bore the eagle on their standards, after having
long accorded the honor to the she-wolf, the minotaur, and the wild
boar. The Corinthians likewise carried a Pegasus, and the Athenians an
owl, on their banners. The sign was closely related to the banner: it
was a kind of rigid flag. We shall see later, in the Dutch pictures,
how, at the jolly kermess, flag and shield together invited the
peasant to drink and dance. In mediæval France the tavern hosts hung
out flags on which the sign was painted or woven in colors. The French
word “enseigne” means originally a flag: “Le signe militaire sous
lequel se rangent les soldats,” as the classic definition in Diderot’s
famous _Encyclopédie_ runs. A secondary definition is: “Le petit
tableau pendu à une boutique.”

The Romans seldom had signs that hung free, such as the Cimbric shield
described above. Generally their signs were paintings or reliefs on a
wall. There were in the shops of Pompeii depressions in the wall made
especially to receive these signs. So, too, the so-called “dealbator”
whitewashed a place on the wall for the election bulletins. Sometimes
the painter used wood or glass as the ground for his sign.

We find all the Roman animal signs--storks, bears, dragons, as well as
the eagle, the cock, and the elephant--in the later Christian ages. It
is not impossible that the eagle signs of later days are the direct
descendants of the old Roman eagle; and they probably existed in most
of the old towns founded by the Romans--Mayence, Speyer, Worms,
Basel, Constance. The names that have come down to us are chiefly of
taverns in the African colonies. Here we find, curiously enough, the
wheel (“ad rotam”), the symbol of St. Catherine, which we shall meet
later in Christian lands; for example, in a picturesque sign in the
old town of Ravensburg in Württemberg.

[Illustration: Zumwilden Mann Eßlingen]

In Spain we find the Moor (“ad Maurum”) who kept his popularity for
centuries. In Sardinia, Hercules, the pattern of the later hero with
the “big stick,” as he appears in the German sign at Esslingen. Some
of the inns had names of heathen divinities, like Diana, or Mercury,
the god of commerce, or Apollo, whose emblem the sun shed its inviting
rays from so many a tavern portal in fair and foul weather alike. A
tavern in Lyons was named “Ad Mercurium et Apollinem”: “Mercurius hic
lucrum permittit, Apollo salutem” (“Here Mercury dispenses prosperity,
and Apollo health”). It is possible that these taverns had gods as
signs, just as in the Middle Ages the streets abounded in images of
the Madonna and saints, which invited the traveler to turn in for
profit or pleasure. Tertullian tells us that there was not a public
bath or tavern without its image of a god: “balnea et stabula sine
idolo non sunt.” After the victory of Christianity the images of the
gods were cheap: tavern-keepers could buy them for a few obols. We can
little doubt that among this “rubbish” was many a precious work of art
which the museums of to-day would be proud to own.

It would be hard to say whether an unbroken tradition connects the
signs of the Middle Ages with those of like name in classical
antiquity. Many a sign may have been invented anew. But that we have
learned much directly from the old Romans in the field of hospitality
is proved by a curious fact. The Bavarian Knödel, which every true
Bajuware claims as an indigenous, national institution, are prepared
to-day exactly like the old Roman “globuli,” after the recipes of
Columella and Varro. Such, at least, is the assurance of Herr von
Liebenau in his interesting book on Swiss hospitality.

We remarked above that it was by their roads especially that the
Romans extended their power over all the world. We must notice now
briefly the Roman post-system, the “cursus publicus,” whose coaches
probably carried travelers from tavern to tavern like the modern
mail-coaches. We must, however, curb the imagination of the reader
with a reminder that practically only the state officials used this
service. Not every country bumpkin could mount with market-basket on
his arm, to make a jolly journey over hill and dale to the sound of
the echoing horn. Still the Emperor or his prefect could issue
tickets to private persons; and furthermore, these persons could,
under certain circumstances, get a sort of Cook’s ticket, called
“diploma tractoria,” which included board and lodging as well as
transportation. If the journey lay through a lonely region, where
there were no private taverns to provide shelter for the night, the
traveler might put up at the state inn (“mansio”) which the province
was obliged to maintain at public cost, with all the necessities and
comforts to which respectable Roman travelers were accustomed. One can
well understand how, as the empire disintegrated, the provincials were
glad to throw off this hated compulsory tax for the support of the
state inn. It was not till the time of Charlemagne that the
institution was revived as a military-feudal service along the routes
of the imperial army. Whether these Roman state inns displayed signs
or not, we do not know. It is, however, very likely that they were
distinguished by the sign of the Roman eagle, and so became the type
of the later private eagle inns.

Here let us remark that the post-coaches of our own day, which seem to
us an institution dating from the Deluge, are a comparatively late
invention. The first so-called “land-coach” in Germany was established
between Ulm and Heidelberg in the year 1683. Through all the Middle
Ages and the Renaissance period, we depended on mounted messengers,
traveling cloister brothers, university students, and rare travelers
to carry messages. In Württemberg, where we find to-day the most
abundant reminders of the good old post-coach days, and consequently
the finest old signs, bands of “noble post-boys” are found, including
the distinguished names of Trotha and Hutten.

That the common workman, even in the Roman days, had to use “shank’s
mare” when he went traveling goes without saying. But the well-to-do
burgher or trader who had no license to ride in the state post-coach
rode on his horse or his high mule. Horse and saddle remained for
centuries the only method of travel after the Roman roads had fallen
into that state of dilapidation from which they fully recovered only
in the days of Napoleon. One needs only to look at the coaches of
princes in past centuries to see for what bottomless mud-bogs these
lumbering vehicles were built. Montaigne rode on horseback from his
home in Bordeaux to the baths of southern France and Italy, although
he seems, from the entries in his diary, to have been very much
afflicted with “distempers.”

A late Roman relief found in Isernia (in Samnium)--a kind of tavern
sign--shows us a traveler holding his mule by the bridle as he takes
leave of the hostess and pays his account. The traveler has on his
cloak and hood. The hood, even up to Seume’s time (i.e., up to the end
of the eighteenth century), was generally worn by travelers in Italy,
and especially in Sicily: “My mule-driver showed a tender solicitude
for me,” wrote Seume, “and gave me his hood. He could not understand
how I dared to travel without one. This peculiar kind of dark-brown
mantle with its pointed headgear is the standard dress in all Italy,
and especially in Sicily. I took a great fancy to it, and if I may
judge from this night’s experience, I have a great inclination toward
Capuchin vows, for I slept very well.”


We have had to confine ourselves in the treatment of ancient signs
entirely to Roman examples, for we have very little knowledge of Greek
signs. In fact, the tavern sign seems to have come late into Greece,
through Roman influence. We hear of a tavern “The Camel” at the
Piræus, also of a sailors’ inn having the sign in relief: a boiled
calf’s head and four calf’s feet.

We shall later see what an important part signs played in directing
travelers in a city through the Middle Ages and even in modern times.
They took the place of house numbers and street names. In ancient Rome
a whole quarter was often named after an inn, like the “Bear in the
Cap” (“vicus ursi pileati”). This is the longest-lived bear in
history: he lives even to-day. An excellent German tavern guide, Hans
Barth, writes in his delightful little book “Osteria”: “On the quay of
the Tiber was the famous old inn of the Bear, where Charlemagne
lodged, because the Cafarelli Palace was not yet built; where Father
Dante frolicked with the pussy-cats; where Master Rabelais raised
his famous bumpers of wine.” In Montaigne’s time the Bear was so
frightfully stylish an inn, with its rooms hung with gilded leather,
that the essayist stayed there only two days and then forthwith sought
a private lodging.

[Illustration: Campana and Canone d’Oro Borgo San Dalmazzo, Italy]

In modern Italy there are only a few interesting signs. The most
delightful ones (the Golden Cannon, and the Bell) we found in the main
street of the North Italian mountain town of Borgo San Dalmazzo. The
“White Horse” (“cavallo bianco”) was a little off the main street. The
form of these was probably influenced by the proximity of
Switzerland--a country very rich in beautiful signs.

Seume, who had the finest opportunity for studying taverns and signs
in his walking tour from Leipzig to Syracuse, often mentions the name
of his inn; as, for instance, “Hell” in Imola, or the “Elephant” in
Catania. But there was only one Italian town in which the signs
impressed him: that was Lodi. “The people of Lodi,” he writes, “must
be very imaginative if one can judge them from their signs. One of
them, over a shoemaker’s shop, represents a Genius taking a man’s
measure--a motif which reminds one of Pompeii.”

Our excellent guide, who has an eye for everything picturesque, does
not seem to have met much of interest from Verona to Capri. An
exception was the “Osteria del Penello,” in Florence, on the Piazza
San Martino, a tavern established about the year 1500 by Albertinelli,
the friend of Raphael. On the sign over the door was the jolly curly
head of the founder, who, when the envy of his colleagues poisoned the
work of his brush, here established a tavern. An inscription read:
“Once I painted flesh and blood, and earned only contempt; now I give
flesh and blood, and all men praise my good wine.”

Barth also mentions, by the way, the characteristic wall-paintings of
Italy that rest on the old Roman tradition and yet serve as tavern
signs, like the “Three Madonnas” of the Porta Pincia in Rome: “A
portal decorated with three pictures of the Mother of God leads into
the green garden court.”

Lest the thought of a religious painting serving as a tavern sign
should shock any of our readers, we hasten to turn to the study of
religious hospitality and its emblems.



[Illustration: Lamm Erlenbach, Württemberg]



    “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”

    I Peter IV, 9.

Rome was to conquer the northern Germanic world once more, not with
the sword as had been the case in the olden days of a pagan Rome, but
with the cross and its exponent, the monk. The northward surging
wave of Roman Cæsarism had been followed by the tidal wave,
southward-roaring, of Germanic barbarians. The orderly life of one
vast empire gave way to the restlessness and insecurity of the period
of migration and a shattered empire. Not individuals but whole peoples
go a-traveling with household goods and wife and children, whole towns
and countries become their inns, the standard of the conquerors are
their tavern signs. Then again flowing northward, progressing by
insensible stages, comes the silent throng of monastic brotherhoods,
the Benedictines in the van, who bring forth various orders from
their midst, the Cistercians among others, who dig and reclaim the
soil with their spades and later, as builders, dedicate it to their
God, unknown and now revealed, with high-soaring monuments of worship.

Undaunted by solitude, fearless of the wildness of desolate regions,
they enter the forest primeval to clear it and establish quiet
homesteads for themselves and their worship; their doors are open to
all those who pass their way. For had not St. Benedict, mindful of
repeated apostolic admonitions to the bishops, included hospitality in
the rules of his order? Therefore ere long there lacked not in any
convent certain rooms given over to the comfort of the wayfarer, be it
a “hospitium,” a “hospitale,” or a “receptaculum.” Witness the Hospice
of the Great St. Bernard in the Alps of the Vallais, named after the
pious founder of that earliest of Occidental orders, part of the
convent erected in the ninth century by the bishops of Lausanne, while
the shelter on Mont Cenis is said to date back to a past equally
remote. Beginning with the year 1000, convents likewise erect inns in
the villages, outside of their immediate domains, leasing these
against rental, while in the towns pilgrim inns, poor men’s taverns,
and “Seelhäuser” are endowed for the free housing of pilgrims and
wayfarers, evolving later into town inns.

To the pilgrim, then, who wended his way to the tombs of saints, and,
in the crusade times, to the holiest of graves in Jerusalem, mediæval
hospitality is mainly devoted. The crusaders were agents of especial
power in the development of hospitality, since on his lengthy journey
the pilgrim stood in need, not only of food and shelter, but also of
convoy along roads perilous everywhere. The Knights of St. John set
themselves these two tasks, to care for the pilgrims and escort them
in safety, which is implied by their name “fratres hospitales S.
Johannis.” In the rule of their order (ca. 1118) the foremost duty of
lay as well as clerical brothers was to serve the poor, “our lords.”
With like intent of safeguarding pilgrims the Order of Knights
Templars was instituted in 1119, especially for the care of German
pilgrims. We may venture to assume from their name, “Order of the
German House of our dear Lady in Jerusalem,” that a homelike Madonna
picture adorned their hospitable house as a pious welcome. Shakespeare
has inimitably described the warlike duties of these orders, duties
which went hand in hand with kindly care and hospitality, in the first
part of “Henry IV”:--

    “To chase these pagans, in those holy fields
    Over whose acres walk’d those blessed feet
    Which, fourteen hundred years ago, were nailed
    For our advantage, on the bitter cross.”

These knightly orders, whose hospitable roofs originally sheltered the
pious pilgrims bound for Jerusalem, also opened in welcome the gates
of their proud houses at home, which still adorn more than one old
German town. When Luther was summoned to Worms by the Emperor, in
1521, he stayed with the Knights of St. John. Here in this noble inn
he exclaimed to his friends, after the ordeal, with upraised arms, and
face shining with joy: “I am through, I am through.” Like an enduring
rock he had stood his ground and had expressed his unalterable will to
be a free Christian in those famous words: “Hier stehe ich, ich kann
nicht anders, Gott helfe mir! Amen.”

In like manner Luther had accepted ecclesiastical hospitality on his
journey Romeward, as a young monk, notably on the part of the Order of
St. Augustine. From the pages of that Baedeker of the fifteenth
century, the “Mirabilia Romae,” we can realize how thoroughly a
pilgrimage to Rome was viewed in those days as a pious journey to
hallowed places, relics and tombs of the saints. The work referred to
appeared first as a block-book, with pictures and text both printed
from the same wood block. The youthful monk may well have carried such
an early copy of the “Mirabilia” in his cowl when he entered the holy
precincts of the Eternal City, which revealed itself to his great
disillusionment as an ungodly spot and the seat of Anti-Christ.
Occasionally we also see the great reformer descending at a lay
tavern, such as the famous inn of the High Lily in Erfurt, which
subsequently saw within its walls great warriors like Maurice of
Saxony and Gustavus Adolphus.

To this day there is in England a hospital founded by the Knights of
St. John, in which every wayfarer can obtain bread and ale upon
request. This is the “Hospital of St. Cross without the walls of
Winchester,” as it is called in a document in the British Museum;
ceded by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem to Richard
Toclive, Bishop of Winchester, in 1185, the bishop raising the number
of poor there entertained from 113 to 213, of whom 200 were to be fed
and 13 fed and clothed. Emerson once made a pilgrimage to the
hospital, claimed and received the victuals, and triumphantly quoted
the incident as a proof of the majestic stabilities of English
institutions. In his wake numberless Americans yearly wend their way
to the Hospital of the Holy Cross, and to the beautiful Minster of
Winchester embedded in verdure. There they lodge either at the
“George,” or, more cozily yet, in the ancient “God begot House” of a
type found, perhaps, in England only.

Another American no less renowned, Mark Twain, the “New Pilgrim,” as
he styled himself, has felt on his own physical self the blessings of
clerical hospitality in Palestine, the land of ecclesiastic
foundations, which he celebrates as follows in his “Innocents Abroad”:
“I have been educated to enmity toward all that is Catholic, and
sometimes, in consequence of this, I find it much easier to discover
Catholic faults than Catholic merits. But there is one thing I feel no
disposition to overlook, and no disposition to forget: and that is,
the honest gratitude I and all pilgrims owe to the Convent Fathers in
Palestine. Their doors are always open, and there is always a welcome
for any worthy man who comes, whether he comes in rags or clad in
purple.... A pilgrim without money, whether he be a Protestant or a
Catholic, can travel the length and breadth of Palestine, and in the
midst of her desert wastes find wholesome food and a clean bed every
night, in these buildings.... Our party, pilgrims and all, will always
be ready and always willing to touch glasses and drink health,
prosperity, and long life to the Convent Fathers in Palestine.”

We may well believe that private individuals then as now bid for the
patronage of pilgrims. Shakespeare tells us of a case in point, in his
“All’s Well that Ends Well” (Act III, Sc. V). Helena appears in
Florence in search of her husband gone to the wars, “clad in the dress
of a pilgrim,” and inquires where the palmers lodge. A kindly widow
tells her “at the Franciscans here near the port”; but knows how to
win the fair pilgrim by her words:--

    “I will conduct you where you shall be lodged
    The rather, for, I think, I know your hostess
    As ample as myself.”

If, on the other hand, we consider how pilgrims made their long
journey more toilsome yet, as related by Helena herself,--

    “Barefoot plod I the cold ground upon
    With sainted vow my faults to have amended,”--

we shall appreciate how gratefully the proffer of the good widow must
have been accepted. The hospitality of the monks was not always
lavish; on the contrary, it proved scant and poor, as Germany’s
greatest troubadour, Walter von der Vogelweide, to his sorrow
experienced. Once he turned aside more than four miles from his road
in order to visit the far-famed convent of Tegernsee. The learned
monks, whose library forms to-day one of the treasures of the State
Library in Munich, may have been too deeply engrossed in the
transcription of a classic author, or in elaborate miniature
paintings; at any rate, they did not realize what noble guest sat at
their board and brought him--not the choice vintage which the thirsty
poet expected but simply water:--

    “Ich schalt sie nicht, doch genade Gott uns beiden,
    Ich nahm das Wasser, also nasser
    Musst ich von des Mönches Tische scheiden.”

If guests were thus given cause for complaints of their treatment by
the convents, the monks on their side had no less ground for
occasional displeasure at the abuse of their hospitality. Carlyle
cites an instance of this kind in “Past and Present”; the excellent
abbot, Simon of Edmundsbury, had forbidden tournaments within his
domain. In spite of this prohibition twenty-four young nobles arranged
a knightly joust under his very nose, so to speak. Not content with
that, they rode gayly to the convent at its conclusion and demanded
supper and a night’s lodging. “Here is modesty,” says Carlyle. “Our
Lord Abbot, being instructed of it, orders the Gates to be closed; the
whole party shut in. The morrow was the vigil of the Apostles Peter
and Paul; no out-gate on the morrow. Giving their promise not to
depart without permission, those four-and-twenty young bloods dieted
all that day with the Lord Abbot waiting for trial on the morrow.”
And now Carlyle cites his own source the “Jocelini Chronica”: But
“after dinner”--mark it, posterity!--“the Lord Abbot retiring into his
Talamus, they all started up, and began carolling and singing; sending
into the Town for wine; drinking and afterwards howling
(ululantes);--totally depriving the Abbot and Convent of their
afternoon’s nap; doing all this in derision of the Lord Abbot, and
spending in such fashion the whole day till evening, nor would they
desist at the Lord Abbot’s order! Night coming on, they broke the
bolts of the Town-Gates, and went off by violence!”

Not only had convents to suffer from such exuberant guests; oftener
far they were burdened by those who forgot to depart and continue
their journey. The abbot, Herboldus Gutegotus of Murrhardt, the
convent whose romantic church still ranks among the finest
ecclesiastical monuments in Germany, used to tell such forgetful
guests the following little story: “Do you know why our Lord remained
but three days in his tomb?--Because during that time he was making a
friendly visit to the patriarchs and prophets in Paradise. So in order
not to cause them inconvenience he took timely leave and resurrected
upon the third day.” Evidently the refined abbot knew how to veil
politely the old Germanic directness which finds such clear expression
in the “Edda”:

    “Go on betimes, loiter not as a guest ever in our abode;
    He, though loved, becomes burdensome, who warms himself
      too long at hospitable fires.”

In wild and inhospitable countries, the convents long remained, even
till recent times, the only shelters for travelers. Hence, when Henry
VIII of England began to confiscate monastic property on a grand
scale, a significant revolt for their reinstallment flamed up in the
north of England,--the so-called “Pilgrimage of Grace” of the year
1536, which was suppressed with deplorable sternness. The convents
were very popular in those parts because the monks had been the only
physicians and their doors were always open to all wayfarers.

Chaucer shows us in his “Canterbury Tales” that monks could be
pleasant guests as well as good hosts, for there we read in regard to
the friar: “He knew well the tavernes in every town”; and “What should
he studie and make himself wood?”

Having thus pictured to ourselves the clerical hospitality of the
Middle Ages, we shall not wonder that, in outward signs for the
designation of the houses as inns, religious subjects and their
pictorial presentation were adopted.

Among the saints particularly revered by the pious pilgrims St.
Christopher stands foremost, since he had himself experienced so
perilous a journey. In many mediæval pictures we see him leaning on
his massive staff, carrying the Christ child across a river. The
“Golden Legend” tells us that he was nearly drowned, so heavy was the
burden of this child. “Had I carried the whole world,” he says, when
finally reaching the shore, “my burden could have been no heavier”;
whereupon the child of whose identity he was not yet aware: “for a
sign that you have carried on your shoulders not only the world but
the Creator, thrust this staff into the ground near your hut, and
behold, it will blossom and bear fruit.” Hence the partiality for huge
pictures of St. Christopher, visible afar, such as we find
occasionally to this day in and upon certain churches; for instance,
the spacious mural paintings in the church of St. Alexander at
Marbach, the birthplace of Schiller, close to the tracks on which the
modern traveler thunders past; or the gigantic sculpture on the south
side of the cathedral in Amiens, or the large fresco in the minster at
Erfurt. They give us a conception of similar presentations on Poor
Men’s Inns and ecclesiastical hospices. The belief in the efficacious
protection by the saint, especially from sudden death, is expressed in
the French mediæval saying: “Qui verra Saint Christophe le matin, rira
le soir.” The tenacity of this belief among the people is well
instanced by the fact that the jewelers of so worldly a city as Nice
sell to owners of automobiles little silver plaques, with the picture
of the saint and the inscription, “Regarde St. Christophe et puis
va-t-en rassuré.” Let us hope, in the interest of the rest of mankind,
that these motorists do not feel too reassured in consequence.

American readers might be interested to hear that in their own country
a guest-house of St. Christopher gives refuge to the modern fraternity
of tramps, charitably called the “Brother Christophers” by the Friars
of the Atonement, who founded this house at Gray Moor, near the
beautiful residential district of Garrison, in the State of New York.

Another saint, deservedly in great favor, is St. George, who slew the
dragon, a knightly patron who smooths the traveler’s path and makes it
safe by brushing aside all its threatening dangers. Two of the finest
hostelries still existing are named after him: the “Ritter” in
Heidelberg, and the “George,” more ancient yet by a century, in the
time-hallowed town of Glastonbury. Two miracles have drawn pilgrims to
the latter place since olden times, the “Holy Thornbush,” which had
blossomed forth from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea and bloomed
every Christmas, and the “Holy Well,” in the garden of the cloister
school, now deserted, whose waters were to heal the bodily ailments of
the pious pilgrims. The throng of wayfarers to the convent, whose
gigantic abbot’s kitchen is eloquent of hospitality on a large scale,
made the establishment of a pilgrim’s inn outside the walls
imperative. First they erected the “Abbot’s Inn,” and when this proved
insufficient--at the end of the fifteenth century--the elegant Gothic
structure was erected, which bears to this day the ensign “Pilgrim’s
Inn,” but is popularly known as “The George,” from a likeness of the
saint which once adorned the handsome bracket so happily wedded to the
architecture of the house. The tourist undaunted by fearsome
reminiscences may ask to be given the choice apartment there, the
so-called “abbot’s chamber,” where Henry VIII rested on the day when
he ordered the last abbot hung on the town gate. The fine four-poster,
it is true, has been sold to a fancier of antiquities and replaced by
a new canopied bed, but despite this the room retains its mediæval

About a hundred years later, the delightful Renaissance structure,
“Zum Ritter,” was erected in Heidelberg. Originally the house of a
wealthy Frenchman, it was subsequently changed into a hostelry and
took its name from the knight on the peak of the gable. Doubtless no
one has ever sung the praise of this noble building more worthily than
Victor Hugo, who visited Heidelberg in 1838, and passed by the house
of St. George every morning, as he said, “pour faire déjeuner mon
esprit.” Jokingly he observes that the Latin inscription (Psalm 127,
I) has protected the inn better than the little iron plate of the
insurance firm. As a matter of fact neither the great conflagration of
1635, during the Thirty Years’ War, nor the fires started under Mélac
and Maréchal de Lorges, in 1689 and 1693, could harm this inn, while
“all the other houses built without the Lord were burnt to the

In England the good knight St. George was an especial favorite; even
in the middle of the last century there were in London alone no less
than sixty-six hostelries of that name. Truly, the pious meaning of
old associated with the sign had long been forgotten by hosts and
guests alike, so that as early as the seventeenth century these
mocking lines were penned:--

    “To save a mayd St. George the Dragon slew--
    A pretty tale, if all is told be true.
    Most say there are no dragons, and ’tis said
    There was no George; pray God there was a mayd.”

The pictures of the “valiant knight’s” mount were often so dubious
that a connoisseur of horses like Field Marshal Moltke, writing from
Kösen, Thuringia, construed it as the picture of a mad dog. On the
other hand, we have such charming conceptions of St. George as the
sign here shown, from the hamlet of Degerloch, delightfully situated
on the heights overlooking Stuttgart, a notable artistic achievement
in wrought iron, interesting, moreover, for the associations of merry
chase linked with the saint in the mind of the country folk.

[Illustration: Degerloch]

Among other saints frequently chosen for tavern signs, St. Martin must
be mentioned. At times he appears in like manner as does St.
Christopher; for instance, on the large reliefs decorating the façade
of the minster in Basle: a friend of the needy, dividing his cloak
with his sword, to share it with them; thus the pious saint lives on
in the minds of the people. At the season of the new wine, the 21st of
November, the Church commemorates his name: “A la saint Martin, faut
goûter le vin,” is the French saying.

At the sign of St. Dominic too, whose meaning of religious hospitality
had been utterly perverted in the course of time, stanch topers used
to congregate for joyous orgies. Proudly they called themselves
“Dominican”; and

    “Bons ivrognes et grands fumeurs
    Qui ne cessent jamais de boire”

is their interpretation of such strange affiliation, in a song of the
seventeenth century.

St. Urban has likewise figured on many a tavern sign. Once upon a time
he took refuge from his pursuers behind a grapevine, and for that
reason he has become a patron saint of vintners and tavern hosts.
“Alas,” exclaims the refined Erasmus of Rotterdam, “mine host is not
always as ‘urbane’ as he should be to justify this patronage.”

[Illustration: THE GOOD WOMAN]

There is one sign whose religious origin is not self-evident, namely,
the “Femme sans tête.” Yet the figure has its origin, no doubt, in
mediæval representations of saints after decapitation, sometimes shown
with the head in the hands. Whoever has perused the illustrated “Lives
of the Saints” with their many horrible mutilations of the martyrs
depicted in woodcuts, must have realized that their moral influence on
the popular imagination cannot have been of a beneficial nature. Even
great artists did not hesitate to celebrate such awful scenes with the
power of their genius. Among the drawings of Dürer we see the
executioner with his great sword ready to behead St. Catherine.
Nothing so disgusted Goethe in his Italian journey as all the painted
atrocities perpetrated on the martyrs. The most peculiar example of
this form of art is probably that in the Tower of London. It is a set
of horse armor presented, apparently without malice, by Emperor
Maximilian to Henry VIII of England, embellished with the most
gruesome scenes of martyrdom. In the Tower, where so much innocent
blood has flowed, one feels doubly repulsed by such excrescences of
so-called religious art: one is even tempted to accept the popular
conception of these beheaded saints as comforting symbols of
forgetfulness. In fact, the oil merchants chose the “woman without
head” as their sign, as one of the foolish virgins of the parable who
had neglected to provide themselves in good time with the necessary
oil: a warning example to delaying, unwilling customers.

A coarser interpretation of the figure styles it as the “silent
woman,” or as the “good woman,” who can no longer do mischief with her
tongue. Moreover, one finds this most gallant of signs--which should
be unmentionable in these days of woman’s emancipation--not only in
outspoken Holland, with the words: “Goede vrouw een mannen plaag” but
also in Italy; in Turin, for instance, styled as “La buona moglie.”
The most polite people on earth--I do not mean the Chinese, but the
French--have named a street in Paris the “Rue de la Femme sans Tête”
after a tavern of like appellation. Young Gavarni stayed awhile in the
“Auberge de la Femme sans Tête” in Bayonne, as the Goncourts tell us,
and waxed eloquent about the dainty charms of the “vierge du cabaret,”
the tavern-keeper’s daughter.

Ben Jonson, who loved to discuss with Shakespeare in the Siren Club
and to “anatomize the times deformity,” may have been stimulated to
write his comedy “The Silent Woman” by the tavern sign of that name.
In Jonson’s play, a Mr. Morose, an original old fellow, who holds all
noise in detestation, weds a young lady, whose barely audible voice
and scant replies have charmed him. When after the ceremony she
reveals herself a loquacious scold and he gives vent to his
disappointment, she replies with these endearing words: “Why, did you
think you had married a statue, or a motion only? one of the French
puppets, with the eyes turned with a wire? or some innocent out of the
hospital that would stand with her hands thus, and a plaise mouth,
and look upon you?”

But to comfort the feminists we should speak of a host truly gallant,
who had a great white sign made, with the inscription below, “The Good
Man.” To the universal inquiry, “Where is the good man? I can’t see
him,” he made answer, “Well, you see that is why I have left the blank
space; if only I could find him.”

Since there is a saint for every day of the calendar, we must not be
astonished to find names among those adopted for tavern signs which to
us bear no relation to sanctity; such as St. Fiacre over a drivers’
bar, which seems rather the invention of some wag.

We must needs realize that all these religious signs have their origin
in a time when popular imagination was mainly filled with the
happenings of the Bible and the legends of the saints; when religion
had not yet grown to be a Sunday occupation of a couple of hours, but
was most intimately interwoven with the life of every day. Hence we
find among subjects for signs not the saints only, whose human errors
and sufferings have riveted a bond between them and the common
people, but also the Deity itself. “La Trinité” was one of the latter
in mediæval France, as evidenced by this passage in the song of a

    “De la alay plus oultre encore
    En un logis d’antiquité
    Qui se nomme la Trinité.”

Other pilgrim taverns styled themselves “A l’image du Christ.” We also
meet with such inscriptions as “L’Humanité de Jesus Christ, notre
sauveur divin”; the birth of Christ as a child, as in the charming old
Swiss sign “Hie zum Christkindli”; the Madonna and scenes of her life
like the “Annunciation,” called Salutation in England. These and many
other signs, such as “Purgatory,” “Hell,” and “Paradise,” which have
been revived in modern Paris on fantastic cabarets, meet our eyes on
tavern signs. An old enumeration of London bars of the seventeenth
century begins with the words:--

    “There has been great sale and utterance of wine
    Besides beer and ale, and ipocras fine
    In every country region and nation
    Chefely at Billingsgate, at the Salutation....”

And when the author tires of mentioning them all by name, he concludes

    “And many like places that make noses red.”

Finally, we must turn to those signs, not religious at first sight,
which may well have their origin in attributes of the saints. Thus, we
meet in Swiss towns, which have St. Gall as their local patron, with
the sign of the “Bear”; “Crown” and “Star” are the symbols of the
three magi who followed the star to the lowly tavern in Bethlehem; the
“Wheel” reminds us of the martyrdom of St. Catherine; the “Stag” may
be a reminder of the legend of St. Hubert; while the “Bell,” once
used by St. Anthony to drive away the demons by its sound, was
fastened on the neck of animals to preserve them from epidemic
diseases. We often see the bell, in old woodcuts, fastened round the
neck of the little pig which accompanies the saint. The bell assumed a
very worldly meaning, when it called the tipplers to their merry
gatherings, which called forth in England the patriotic rhyme:--

    “Let the King
    Live Long!
    Dong Ding
    Ding Dong!”

The Tower of St. Barbara grew into an independent tavern sign, which,
misunderstood, occasionally changed into a cage. Even the platter on
which rested the head of the Baptist is deformed into the “Plat
d’argent” over a tavern door. Hogarth does not refrain from
introducing a sign in his engraving “Noon,” of 1738, showing the
Baptist’s head on a charger, with the cynical inscription “Good
Eating.” Whether such coarsenesses were actually perpetrated, even
under the lax régime of Charles II in England, when frivolity reigned
after the fall of Cromwell, it is hard to decide. Possibly they may be
set down as brutal outcroppings of the satirist’s truth-deforming
brain. The fact is, that even in the sixteenth century the abuse of
religious subjects for the most disreputable resorts roused the
indignation of serious, thinking men. Thus a certain Artus Désiré
indignantly laments, in a rhymed broadside, that the tavern-keepers
dare place over houses where the great hell devil himself is lodged
the images of God and the saints to advertise their vine:--

    “De dieu les Sainctz sont leur crieurs de vin
    Tant au citez que villes et villages,
    Et vous mettront dessus les grands passages
    Au lieux d’horreur et d’immondicité
    Des susditz sainctz les dévotes images
    En prophanant leur préciosité.”



[Illustration: Adler Leonberg, Württemberg]



    “In bibliis ich selten las
    viel lieber in dem Kruge sass.”

    RINGWALDT, 1582.

The heavy castle gates in mediæval times were gladly opened to the
minstrels who came to charm with their art the banquets of the noble
lords and ladies--troubadours and minstrels, the ancestors of that
vast and still thriving fraternity of poets whose blood runs too
quickly through their veins to keep them content in the quiet monotony
of a home. With the sailing clouds, with the migrating birds, and the
rising sun they wander through woods and fields “to be like their
mother the wandering world.” With Walt Whitman they love the open road
and hate the confinement of the stuffy room:--

    “Afoot and light-hearted, I take the open road,
    Healthy, free, the world before me,
    The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.”

Never do they feel happier than when the long, long road lies before
them, which now seems to dip down into the green sea of the forests
and now to climb straight into the bright blue heaven. Jean Richepin,
himself a “chemineau,” now well settled as an honorable member of the
French Academy, has sung the open road’s praise. All poets feel deeply
the words of Kleist, “Life is a journey.” And how bitter the journey
often was in the days of the minstrels, how glad they were when the
dark forests and unsafe roads lay behind them and the big hearth-fire
of the castle hall brightened face and soul! Gratefully they praised
the noble lord for his hospitable reception and his kindly welcome.
Thus Walter von der Vogelweide, Germany’s greatest minstrel:--

    “Nun ich drei Höfe weiss, wo Ehrenmänner hausen,
    Fehlt mir es nicht an Wein, kann meine Pfanne sausen...
    Mir ist nicht not, dass ich nach Herberg fernumher noch streiche.”

Impoverished knights may have occasionally hung out an iron helmet
over the castle door as a sign that they were willing to receive and
to entertain paying guests: certainly a more honorable method of
gaining one’s livelihood than to plunder the passing merchant or even
one’s own peasants, as was the noble fashion at the end of mediæval
times. But it is more likely that such poor noblemen would first think
of using their city houses for such commercial purposes and not their
lonely and uninviting fortified castles. Here on one of their city
houses, where they used to lodge in time of markets or city
festivities, the first iron helmet perhaps appeared as a knightly
sign. Certain it is that we find inns of such name in France as well
as in Germany, the most famous one in Rothenburg on the Tauber, the
best preserved mediæval city in existence, infinitely more charming
than the much-talked-about Carcassonne, reconstructed by
Viollet-le-Duc with such cold correctness. Here in the quaint hall of
the “_Eisenhut_,” under the glittering arms of knights dead and gone,
we will rest awhile and gladden our heart with the golden Tauber wine.
Let the comfort-seeker go to the modern prosaic hotel outside the city

The iron helmet is not the only martial tavern sign. Other names
sounded equally well to the soldier’s ear: in France “Le Haubert”
(iron shirt), for instance, that might remind us of the old English
inn, “The Tabard,” in which Chaucer gathered his joyous pilgrims for
happy meals and amusing conversations; the sword, St. Peter’s
attribute, was used as tavern sign in his holy city Rome in the
sixteenth century (“alla spada”); the cannon was very popular as
“canone d’oro” in northern Italy; and many others.

Like chicks under the wings of the hen, the little huts of the
villagers cluster around the protecting mountain castle of the
knightly lord. Most naturally the village innkeeper, therefore,
chooses his master’s escutcheon as a tavern sign. And the landlord in
the town feels equally honored when noble guests leave him, as parting
presents, their coats of arms neatly painted on the panels or the
windows of the dining-room as Montaigne informs us: “Les Alemans sont
fort amoureux d’armoiries; car en tous les logis, il en est une
miliasse que les passans jantilshomes du païs y laissent par les
parois, et toutes leurs vitres en sont fournies.” Although a
philosopher Montaigne himself was vain enough to follow the pretty
custom, and occasionally to dedicate his escutcheon to the innkeeper
as a sign of his satisfaction; so in “The Angel” at Plombières,
already a popular resort even in his day, and in Augsburg at “The
Linde,” situated near the palace of the rich Fuggers. Like a good
housekeeper, who daily writes his expenses down, he tells us that the
painter, who did his work very well, received “deux escus” or two
dollars, the carpenter “vint solds” or a whole quarter, for the screen
on which the escutcheon was painted and which was placed before the
big green stove.

The painting of heraldic designs goes back to the time of the
crusaders and soon became the principal source of income of the
painters. In the Netherlands, which grew to be such a wonderful hotbed
of art, the sign-painters were called “Schilderer,” for that same
reason, a name which clings to them to the present day. Whoever has
traveled in England knows that the same custom of the nobility, to
give coats of arms to the landlords, prevailed there too. “Mol’s
Coffee House” in Exeter, close to the beautiful cathedral, is a good
example. Here Sir Walter Raleigh used to sit in the paneled room on
the second floor, drink a cup of the beverage then quite rare, and
chat with his friends. All along the walls the escutcheons of the
noble visitors of days gone by decorate the quaint old room and every
modern visitor admires them duly, especially that of the valiant but
unhappy seafarer.

To come back to the heraldic tavern signs, we find everywhere in
German lands, where once the imperial House of Hapsburg ruled, their
coat of arms, the double eagle, and in the domains of the House of
Savoy and the Dukes of Lorraine, the cross. In France the escutcheon
of the Bourbons, the fleur de lys, hangs over the tavern door, and in
England the white horse of the royal House of Hanover. Long before the
Georges, the white horse was a popular symbol in England. The giant
horse, roughly hewn in the chalk of the “White Horse Hill,” near
Faringdon, still reminds us of Alfred the Great’s victory over the
Danes at Ashdown in 871. In our days the noble white horse has been
degraded into an advertisement for Scotch whiskey--O quæ mutatio

The heraldic meaning of the signs was just as quickly forgotten as
was the pious significance of the religious signs. Only a few notable
animals, such as lions, unicorns, and the like interested the tavern

[Illustration: Zum Rössle Bozen]

More important than the hospitality under the protection of knights
and sovereigns was the hospitality extended to the traveler behind big
city walls. The city government provided not only lodgings for the
poor pilgrims, tramps, and jobless people, but not infrequently
offered hospitality likewise to the merchant who came to display his
wares in the open vaults of the city hall. In the famous “Rathskeller”
every business transaction was duly celebrated by buyer and seller;
the brotherly act of drinking a glass of wine together seemed to be
the essential finishing-touch which clinched the business. These old
cellars are still a great attraction of the town in many German
places, such as Bremen, Lübeck, or Heilbronn, for instance, and all
travelers are glad to refresh themselves in their quiet vaults.

A hospitality of more intricate character was given by the guilds, in
their houses, to all the members of the trade or craft. Most naturally
they choose as signs symbols of the special work of each guild. The
fisher and boatmen loved to see a fish, an anchor, or a ship over
their tavern door; but they did not claim these signs as a special
privilege, every “compleat angler,” to use Izaak Walton’s expression,
as well as every incomplete one, could hang a fish out over his porch
or on his house corner even if he did not keep a tavern. The house
where Dr. Faustus treated his comrades in such miraculous way was
called “Zum Anker” and belonged to a nobleman in Erfurt if we believe
the oldest popular reports of the event. Goethe transferred the scene
to Auerbach’s Keller in Leipzig, which was familiar to him from his
happy student-days. Old sea-captains and blue-jackets cannot resist
the temptations of “The Anchor” even if the signboard does not invite
them so charmingly as the one of “The Three Jolly Sailors” in

    “Coil up your ropes and anchor here
    Till better weather does appear.”

The shoemakers most naturally decorated their guild-house with a
beautiful big boot, a word closely related to the old French “botte,”
a large drinking cup, and its diminutive “bouteille,” the origin of
the English “bottle.” The butchers seldom show the cruel axe, far
oftener the poetical lamb, their oldest sign being the Pascal lamb
holding the little flag of the resurrection. A patriotic English
landlord in the neighborhood of Bath changed the flag into a Union
Jack, forgetting all about the religious meaning of the sign as it
still appears in a French relief “L’Agneau Pascal” in Caen, Rue de
Bayeux. The tavern “Zum guldin Schooffe” in Strassburg, “la vieille
ville allemande” as Victor Hugo called the city quite frankly, is
perhaps the oldest sign of this group. It dates back to the year 1311
at least. Another butcher sign is the ox or bull, most popular, of
course, in the land of John Bull, where the bull appears in the most
surprising combinations as “Bull and Bell,” “Bull and Magpie,” “Bull
and Stirrup,” and the like.

The tavern signs of the bakers, “The Crown,” “The Sun,” or “The Star,”
lead us back to old pagan times in which the cakes offered as
sacrifice to the gods were shaped in the same curious forms which we
observe to-day in our various breakfast rolls. Christian legends of
the holy three kings and the star that stood over the stable in
Bethlehem effaced these pagan souvenirs. On the day of Epiphany
especially beautiful crowns were baked; in France the bakers still
follow the old tradition and offer such a crown to each of their
customers as a present, not without hiding a tiny porcelain shoe in
the dough. The happy finder of this shoe becomes the king of the
company. Dutch masters have represented the merry family scene of the
Epiphany dinner, none perhaps so convincingly as Jordaens in the
famous picture, “The King Drinks,” in the great gallery of the Louvre.

“The Star” has always been one of the most popular signs, its gentle
glow seemed to promise the traveler on the dark road a friendly
resting-place after the long, weary day. Sometimes the modern owner of
such a venerable old star-inn promises even more and advertises his
place, in slangy rhyme, as the landlord of “The Star” in York.

    “Here at the sign of Ye Old Starre
      You may sup and smoke at your ease
    Tip-Top cigars, port above par,
      A Host ever ready to please.”

Beside “The Star” and “The Golden Sun,” where you drink “the best beer
under the sun,” we find “The Moon,” especially “The Half-Moon,” as
great favorites of the people. The naval victory of 1571 at Lepanto,
where the united Christian fleet destroyed The Turk,--in those days
not a sick man, but rather a robust and aggressive one,--is perhaps
the cause of the popularity of the half-moon. The Virgin Mary, to whom
the pious sailors ascribed the victory, was often represented as
standing on a half-moon, because she was “the woman clothed with the
sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve
stars” whom the poet of the Revelation had seen in his immortal
dreams. Crowned with her diadem of stars she was dear to the seamen,
the “_stella maris_,” to whom they lifted their anguished soul in
prayer: “Ave Maria, navigantium stella, quos ad portum tranquillum
vocata conducis.” As “light of the world” she was praised in the old
“dialogus consolatorius” where the sinner humbly begs her:--

    “Festina miseris misereri, virgo beata!
    Virgo Maria pia splendens orbisque lucerna
    Per tua presidia nos duc ad regna beata!”

But it is not the half-moon, lying horizontally as a silver bowl in
the Christian presentation of the heavenly queen, which we find on the
tavern sign, but always the standing crescent of the Turkish flag, and
we are glad of it. If we study the life in these half-moon taverns at
the hand of Teniers’ pictures and etchings, we find very little that is
Christian and worthy of the sacred symbol of the Revelation.

Still more popular than the stars of heaven is the animal world on the
tavern sign. The ark of Noah itself and all it contained, every
creeping and flying thing, was welcome over the tavern door in those
days when men and beast, often living under the same roof, as in the
divine inn of Bethlehem, were nearer to each other than they are now.
Nothing less than a tavern zoölogy could give a complete enumeration,
which we prefer to avoid. We will choose only a few which were
especially dear to the people. First of all, naturally, the house
companions,--the cat, “Le Chat qui dort” which found a quiet
resting-place for her old days in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris; the
dog, popular in sport-loving England; the ox and the donkey, even an
elegant mule we find in the “Auberge de la Mule” at Avignon, praised
by Abraham Gölnitz, the Baedeker of the seventeenth century, as a
“logement élégant et agréable.” We have already met the cock in Rome
of old, on the Forum, in Holland we see him occasionally as a cavalier
in high boots. The dove, the symbol of the Holy Ghost, decorates the
“Gasthäuser zum Geiste” one of which stood in the old Strassburg and
saw the remarkable interview between the young Goethe and the poet
Herder. Finally the stork, the true sign of German “Gemütlichkeit”;
the one in Basel was honored by the visit of Victor Hugo: “Je me suis
logé à la Cigogne, et de la fenêtre où je vous écris, je vois dans une
petite place deux jolies fontaines côte à côte, l’une du quinzième
siècle, l’autre du seizième.”

To the Philistine the strange animals of foreign distant lands had a
greater attraction still. In every modern “zoo” you will always find a
larger public before the monkey house than before the cage of the lion
or even the elephant, whose dignity and wisdom find fewer admirers
than does the foolishness of the apes. Early in the Middle Ages we
find this most curious of strange animals on the tavern signs.
“L’Ostel des Singes,” sometimes called “The Green Monkeys,” in
Senlis, France, is first mentioned in the year 1359. Our “Affenwagen”
is a Swiss sign, artfully carved in wood, and dates from the
Renaissance times, as does the inn “Zum Rohraff” in Strassburg, often
referred to in the sermons of Geiler von Kaisersberg.

When the first dromedary made its appearance in Germany, a circular
containing a primitive woodcut invited old and young to see “the
curious animal called Romdarius.” Fifty miles it could run in one day
in the sand sea--i.e., desert--the text said, and in summer it could
live three months without drinking “ohne sauffen.” This last-mentioned
quality seemed to predestine the animal to a temperance sign, but
fortunately the description added, “when it drinks it drinks much at
one time,” and so the tavern-keepers did not hesitate to adopt it as a
tavern sign. As an example we might quote the inn “Zum Kameeltier” in
Strassburg. Somewhat later, in the first half of the seventeenth
century, “The Crocodile” appears over the tavern door in Antwerp, and
this reminds us of the stuffed animals in the pharmacy described by
Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet”:--

    “And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
    An alligator stuff’d, and other skins
    Of ill-shap’d fishes.”

The zebra seems to have been known quite early if we are allowed to
take “The Striped Donkey” as such. In the inn “L’Ane rayé” at Rheims,
the father of Joan of Arc is reported to have lodged when he came to
see the coronation in 1429. One of the last comers of the curious and
rare animals was the giraffe; it appeared in Paris for the first time
in 1827, and was immediately adopted as a tavern sign by a host in
Étampes, near the capital. The “enseigne” represented “le dit animal
conduit par un Bédouin.”

But the most curious animals of creation did not suffice. The
imagination of the people created others still more strange and the
landlords put these fabulous beasts on their signs too: the unicorn,
the dragon, the siren. “The Siren” tavern in Lyons at the time of the
Renaissance was evidently a very attractive place which the traveler
found very hard to leave again, because, as a contemporary tells us,
“il s’y trouve des Sirènes.” In later days, when the popular stories
were forgotten, the sirens were changed to “Six Reines,” the six
queens. In another chapter we shall see how Keats in his poem, The
Mermaid, has celebrated one of these old Siren taverns.

How deeply rooted in the old days was this belief in “Mörwonder” or
ill-shaped fishes and malformations of the human figure will appear at
a glance in Schedel’s “Welt Chronik” printed by Koberger in Nuremberg
in 1493, where we see them in strange woodcuts before us: the man
with ears hanging to the ground and other misshaped creatures.

The same source of popular imagination created “Le Géant,” the sign
“Zu den Slaraffen” in Strassburg, 1435, and the sign of “The Little
and the Great Sleeper” that during three centuries, from 1400 to 1705,
invited the citizens of the Alsatian capital to cross its hospitable
threshold. A charming picture, “The Sleeping Giant of the Woods” by
Lukas Kranach, in Dresden’s famous Gallery, will help us to imagine
how the big sleeper probably looked. Is it the famous “Wild Man” or
“Le Grand Hercule” who sleeps here in the shadow of the forest? One
thing is sure, he has been drinking deeply and is dead asleep; nothing
can wake him up, not even this little army of dwarfs around him who
attack him with lances and arrows, nay, even try to saw into his
strong limbs.

Since the days of the “Roman du Renard,” the first version of which
dates back to the eleventh century, to the days of Goethe’s “Reineke
Fuchs,” shrewd master Fox was a favorite of the people. In old
miniatures we encounter him as a monk, his pointed nose buried in a
prayer-book. His exploits most naturally form good themes for the
tavern sign. Dancing before a hen to seduce the foolish creature by
his graceful charms, he was represented on an old French sign in Le
Mans: “Renard dansant devant une poule.” Preaching to ducks, “Wo der
Fuchs den Enten predigt” is the name of a Strassburg tavern, which
dates only from 1848. His shrewdness before the royal tribunal of the
lion was well known; Montaigne, therefore, warns the tavern-keepers
who desire the patronage of advocates against painting him on the
signboard: “qui veut avoir la clientèle des procureurs ne doit point
mettre renard sur son enseigne.”

Other animals appealed more to the culinary instincts of the
passer-by, among them the swan, “l’oiseau de bon augure,” which we do
not like to see turned into roasts. But in Chaucer’s times it was
evidently considered a fine dish, since he lets the monk in his
“Canterbury Tales” say: “A fat swan loved he best of any rost.” A
picture by David Teniers in The Hague, called “The Kitchen,” shows how
the bird was served in his natural glory, a crown of flowers on his
proud head. This custom to serve fowl in full plumage is proved by
Montaigne’s description of a dinner in Rome: “On y servit force
volaille rôtie, revêtue de sa plume naturelle comme vifve ... oiseaus
vifs (enplumés) en paste.”

To this group belongs the peacock, in the old days the official roast
for marriage feasts. Its picture on the signboard promised large
accommodations for people who wanted to celebrate marriages in true
style. “Le Paon blanc” in Paris, Rue de la Mortelleric, now a rather
shady region, was once a noble inn. Shortly after his marriage,
Rembrandt painted the famous picture in Dresden, where he represents
himself, a glass of champagne in hand, happily holding his beloved
Saskia on his knees. The richly decorated table in the background
still carries the peacock of the marriage feast. Of “The Pheasant” in
Worms, before the days of gas and electricity, Victor Hugo has given
us this amusing picture: “J’étais installé dans l’auberge du Faisan,
qui, je dois le dire, avait le meilleur aspect du monde. Je mangeais
un excellent souper dans une salle meublée d’une longue table et de
deux hommes occupés à deux pipes. Malheureusement la salle à manger
était peu éclairée, ce qui m’attrista. En y entrant on n’aperçevait
qu’une chandelle dans un nuage. Les deux hommes dégageaient plus de
fumée que dix héros.”

Sometimes a living bird served originally as a sign. The parrot of the
pharmacy, “Au Perroquet Vert,” in Lyons, was a real bird, which had
learned even some Latin phrases, as “ora pro nobis,” from the passing
processions, and naturally attracted many people by its wisdom. He
belonged to the living signs to which Balzac refers in “Les scènes de
la vie privée”: “Les animaux en cage dont l’adresse émerveillait les
passants.” Sometimes the cage itself was adopted as a tavern sign and
in Lyons a street was named “Rue de la Cage” for a public-house of
this name. A charming little French rhyme from the beginning of the
seventeenth century introduces us to such a cage-tavern:--

    “Mademoiselle Louizon
    Demeurant cher Alizon
    Justement au cinquième étage
    Près du cabaret de la Cage.”

Not only bird-cages and their musical or scholarly inhabitants, but
any remarkable object that happened to stand before the tavern was
readily interpreted by the people as a sign. In the little English
town of Grantham, where we had already the opportunity of admiring the
noble “Angel Inn,” we saw in a tree before a modest tavern a beehive
with this inscription on a board beneath it:--

    “Stop, traveller, this wondrous sign explore,
    And say when thou hast viewed it o’er and o’er,
    Grantham now two rarities are thine,
    A lofty steeple and a living sign.”

To tell the truth, the lofty tower of St. Wulfram seemed to us the
only remarkable “rarity” of the two, the more so as the church was
beautifully decorated for Thanksgiving Day with flowers and the fruits
of the field, not to mention its unique little library with the
chained old books.

We may infer the great popularity of signs by the ceremonious way in
which they were changed when a guild removed to other quarters. The
sign was carried in solemn procession to the new inn and hung up with
blasts of trumpets. The Swabian poet Mörike has tried to express the
melancholy emotions of the old landlord when he sees the sign changed
and finds it hard to recognize his old inn:--

    “Where is the golden lamb of yore
    So dear to my old guests?
    I see a cock with reddish breast
    Pecked it away from the door.”

An English author even tells us about the burial of a sign, which, he
says, was not an unusual affair in Cumberland. We give the story in
his own words: “It is a function always observed when an inn in the
neighborhood of Lady Carlisle’s estate at Naworth has lost its
license. The inn sign is solemnly removed, and in the dead of night is
committed to the grave, in the presence of the old customers of the
inn. As a rule it is ‘watered’ with tears in the shape of a bottle of
whiskey, and the burial sentence runs as follows:--

    “‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
    If Lady Carlisle won’t have you
            The Devil must.’”

But we shall not end our chapter with this story of rather doubtful
taste. If we review the wealth of popular signs, which we have in no
way exhausted, we may well say that everything on earth may be adopted
by the people as a sign, from the cradle in which we dream our first
dreams to the cross that some day will stand over our “last inn” as a
pious and scholarly man has called our grave. In the beautiful
churchyard that enfolds in its greenery England’s oldest existing
church, St. Martin in Canterbury, we read on the tombstone of Dean
Alford the simple words: “Deversorium Viatoris Hierosolymam
Proficiscentis,” last inn of a pilgrim to the heavenly Jerusalem.




[Illustration: Krone Leonberg, Württemberg]



    “Let us to the Tiger all to dinner!”

    _Comedy of Errors._

Little William, already in the days when he went “with his satchel and
shining morning face creeping like a snail unwillingly to school,” had
ample leisure and opportunity to gaze admiringly at the many signs
which adorned the narrow streets of the quiet little town on the Avon.
The memory of them still lives in some of the Stratford hotels. The
landlady of the “Golden Lion,” for instance, remarks on her bill:
“Known as Ye Peacocke Inn in Shakespeare’s time 1613.” Even the “Red
Horse,” to-day extremely modern and uninteresting-looking, goes back
to these old days. In Washington Irving’s time the place probably
looked more quaint and cozy, if we may believe his praise of the old
inn in his “Sketch-Book”: “To a homeless man, there is a momentary
feeling of something like independence and territorial consequence,
when, after a weary day’s travel, he kicks off his boots, thrusts his
feet into slippers, and stretches himself before an inn fire.”

This picture gallery of the street signs was still more magnificent in
London, where even the theaters had their signs out, as “The Globe,”
“Red Bull,” “A Curtain,” “A Fortune,” “Cross Keys,” “The Phenix,” “The
Rose,” “The Cockpit,” and we may be sure that they made quite an
impression on the lively mind of the young actor. The word “sign”
occurs frequently in his vocabulary. Inclined to see below the
surface, he does not seem to trust the glittering of the sign, as the
words of Iago indicate:--

    “I must show out a flag and sign of love,
    Which is indeed but sign.”

The signs of his birthplace were probably rather poor-looking things,
since he uses the word in his early drama, “Titus Andronicus,”

    “Ye sanguine, shallow-hearted boys!
    Ye white-lim’d walls! ye ale-house painted signs!”

The sign of the “Falcon” was not yet hung out on the old house of
Scholar’s Lane and Chapel Street in those years of 1571 to 1578, when
little Shakespeare went to the Grammar School, in which the traveler
to this day may see the chair of the pedagogue who first introduced
him to the secrets of literature. But the circle of life led him back
to the same narrow street, and opposite the stately building, which
now is the “Falcon,” Shakespeare died. The mortuary house has
disappeared and the ground has been transformed into a garden. Here we
are infinitely nearer to the poet’s soul than in the tiny
birth-chamber disfigured by a huge bust, where the guide drowns all
our thoughts in a flood of empty words. Here in this garden the
genius of the poet seemed to reveal himself most charmingly. Where
once the house stood in which he died we found a little child
peacefully sleeping--all alone, unguarded, but the gentle rose of
youth blooming on his cheeks--under the perfumed shadow of flowers; a
symbol of eternal life conquering death.


If we enter the “Falcon,” Shakespeare’s words greet us from the wall:
“Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used, exclaim no
more against it.” The gentle invitation of the blinking sign to enter
and to share joy and sorrow with friendly comrades, Shakespeare
himself has often followed. A French critic, Mézières, went so far as
to call him “un habitué de la taverne,” politely adding that “he never
lost his self-control and never contended himself with the light joys
of the flying hour.”

The “Red Lion” in Henley-on-the-Thames once owned a window
pane--recently by mistake packed in the trunk of a confused
traveler--into which Shenstone scratched the much-quoted words:--

    “Whoe’er has traveled life’s dull round,
    Where’er his stages may have been,
    May sigh to think he still has found
    The warmest welcome at an inn.”

They are of true Shakespearean spirit and remind us of Speed’s words
in the “Two Gentlemen of Verona” (II, v):--

    “I’ll to the alehouse with you presently, where, for one shot of
    five pence, thou shalt have five thousand welcomes.”

It would seem hardly necessary further to urge such an enthusiastic
lover of the tavern, but Launce thought differently.

    _Launce._ If thou wilt go with me to the alehouse, so; if not,
    thou art an Hebrew, a Jew, and not worth the name of a

     _Speed._ Why?

     _Launce._ Because thou hast not so much charity in thee as to
     go to the ale with a Christian.

We are not surprised to hear the final question, “Wilt thou go?”
promptly answered, “At thy service.”

Most of the tavern names Shakespeare mentions are true products of the
Renaissance times when classical studies were extremely popular. “The
Centaur,” “The Phenix,” “The Pomegranate,”--an ornament we find so
often in the brocades of the sixteenth century,--all are signs of his
own time, simply transplanted from London he knew so well to Genoa or
Ephesus, places he had never put his eye on. “The Pegasus,” by the man
in the street called “The Flying Horse,” decorated still in the year
1691 the house of a jeweler and banker in Lombard Street. In passing,
we may remark that all the signs which to-day surprise the traveler in
this busy street are more or less happy reproductions of the old
signs, hung out there by the great banking firms for King Edward’s

In our wanderings through England we occasionally cross the path
Shakespeare went with his company of actors. The court in the “George
Inn” in Salisbury, to-day transformed into a pleasant little garden,
was once the scene where the “Strolling Players” of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries used to give their performances, and here
Shakespeare himself acted when he visited Salisbury. A police
ordinance allowed only in the “George” theatrical amusements, and
demanded that all plays should be ended by seven o’clock in the
evening. This George Hotel was first mentioned in 1401 as
“Georgysyn.” Oliver Cromwell slept here October 17, 1645, on his way
to the army. The old beams which carry the ceiling of the parlor, and
which a shrewd landlord has discovered in other rooms and freed from
the hiding plaster, are the delight of American travelers, who refuse
to sleep in rooms without beams. In the days of Pepys it was an
elegant hostelry. In his “Diary,” in which he praises Salisbury as “a
very brave place,” he puts down the following remarks: “Come to the
George Inn where lay in a silk bed, and very good diet.” Less pleased
he was with the bill, which he thought “so exorbitant that I was mad
and resolved to truble the mistress about it and get something for the
poor; and came away in that humour.” The result of his protest was not
great. After paying £2 5_s._ 6_d._ for the night he gains just two
shillings for the poor (one for “an old woman in the street”). Similar
privileges for theatrical performances had the “Red Lion” in Boston,
the little English mother of her big American daughter, and the
“Mayde’s Hede” in Norwich. The closed space of these old innyards,
with its staircases leading to the surrounding gallery, was
thoroughly fitted for the theatrical representations, and it is quite
possible that this gallery of the innyard influenced the architecture
of the later theaters. Few of these innyards have survived,
unfortunately, but we have still a wonderful example in the charming
court of the so-called “New Inn” in Gloucester. It was new in the
fifteenth century. How enchanting a Shakespeare play would be in the
frame of its verdure!

In the First Part of “Henry IV,” the poet himself has introduced us
into such an innyard. It is very early morning and everything still
dark. Carters come to look after their goods and to harness their
horses, exchanging remarks in plain language: “I think this be the
most villanous house in all London road for fleas”; or, “God’s body!
the turkeys in my pannier are quite starved. What, ostler! A plague on
thee! hast thou never an eye in thy head?”--a master scene of
realistic observation in the style Lessing and Goethe admired so much,
and Voltaire hated so that he proclaimed: “Shakespeare was a
remarkable genius, but he had no taste, since for two hundred years he
has spoiled the taste of the English nation.”

How important the spacious enclosure of the innyard was for the
farmers coming to town with their loaded wagons is shown by the fact
that still to-day many a hotel in Germany is simply called “Hof”
(court) or “Gasthof”; as, for example: “Koelner Hof,” “Rheinischer
Hof,” “Habsburger Hof,” even “Kaiserhof,” sumptuous modern structures,
perhaps, which have only a narrow lighting shaft in the center of the
building and nothing of the large and airy courtyards of the good old

Many of the tavern names Shakespeare mentions in his plays we know
from other sources as signs that actually decorated the streets of
London. “Leopard” and “Tiger” were infrequent, but we hear of a
“Leopard Tavern” in Chancery Lane, which still existed in 1665. The
popular pronunciation was “lubber,” and in this form we find the beast
quoted in “Henry IV” (Part II, II, i), where it is said of Falstaff:
“He is indited to dinner to the Lubber’s-head in Lumbert street, to
Master Smooth’s the silk-man.” Such curious distortions of strange
words are nothing uncommon in popular language; we have only to
remember how the old Yankee farmers used to call the panther by the
gentle name “painter.” Another of Falstaff’s favorite resorts was “The
Half-Moon,” likewise mentioned in “Henry IV” (Part I, II, iv), where
he used to consume countless “pints of bastard” and of dark Spanish
wine. “The Tiger” referred to in the “Comedy of Errors” (III, i) was,
too, an actual sign of the times, as we hear of a “Golden Tiger” in
Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. On the other hand, the name of the
“Porcupine,” which occurs in the same play, is probably invented as a
characteristic sign for a place of ill-fame.

The most renowned of all the Falstaff inns is doubtless “The Garter,”
his real home, so vividly described in the “Merry Wives of Windsor”:
“There’s his chamber, his house, his castle, his standing-bed and
truckle-bed; ’tis painted about with the story of the Prodigal, fresh
and new.” These few words give us an exact picture how a sleeping-room
in an inn looked in his time. The truckle-bed, it seems, was put under
the standing bed and was used by the servant, if we interpret rightly
the old rhyme on a “servile tutor”:--

    “He lieth in the truckle-bed,
    While his young master lieth o’er his head.”

Even the wall paintings, as Shakespeare describes them, are not
invention. In the sixteenth century people loved to paint the story of
the lost son on the walls of the tavern room, just as in the fifteenth
century they pinned up little primitive woodcuts representing St.
Christopher. Later we shall see a painter of talent like Hogarth not
despise the decoration of taverns as below his genius and embellish
with works of his brush the “Elephant Tavern” in Fenchurch Street,
where he stayed for a time.

The name “Garter Inn,” pronounced “de Jarterre” by Doctor Caius, is
historical, too. Later, in the times of Charles I, who added the star
to the insignia of the order founded by Edward III in 1350, the “Star
and Garter” appeared.

A true Renaissance sign we find again in the “Sagittary,” cursorily
mentioned in “Othello” (I, i). The archer, the ninth sign of the
Zodiac, was very familiar to the people from the old calendar
woodcuts. Italian prints, as the beautifully illustrated “Fasciculus
medicinæ” (Venice, 1500), represent him in classical fashion as an
elegant centaur, very unlike the little philistine with round belly,
such as he appears in the earlier “teutsch kalender” of Ulm, 1498. The
common people did not call him “Sagittarius,” but “bowman” (Schütze).
There is good historical evidence of a “Bowman Tavern” in Drury Lane,
London. It is natural that Shakespeare, a true son of the Renaissance,
should call him with the classical name, just as the first German
composer of operas changed his good German name “Schütze” to the more
pretentious form of “Sagittarius.”

In these “Bowman Taverns” the guilds of the archers used to come
together; as, for instance, in the “Hotel de l’Arquebuse” in Geneva,
where the Swiss archers had their joyous reunions after they had
finished their outdoor sport to shoot the “papegex” (the parrot). Here
the king of the archers who had done the master shot “sans reproche”
and “sans tricherie” (without cheating), was celebrated in poetical
speeches, according to the customs of the times:--

    “Je boy à vous, à votre amye,
    Et à toute la compaignie!”


The most famous of all Shakespearean tavern signs is perhaps the
“Boar’s Head.” Washington Irving has told us in his research, “the
boar’s head tavern, Eastcheap” about his investigations on this
important matter. “I sought, in vain, for the ancient abode of Dame
Quickly. The only relic of it is a boar’s head, carved in relief in
stone, which formerly served as a sign; but at present [Irving’s
‘Sketch-Book’ dates from 1820] is built into the parting line of two
houses, which stand on the site of the renowned tavern.” To-day the
relief, blackened by age and curiously looking like Japanese
lacquer-work, belongs to the treasures of the Guildhall Museum in
London. The place where the old tavern stood is marked by the statue
of William IV, opposite the Monument Station of the subway. Merry
souvenirs of good old England are suggested by the boar’s head, which
used to be served on Christmas Day decorated with rosemary and greeted
from the company with the half-Latin song:--

    “Caput apri defero
    Reddens laudes Domino,
    The boar’s head in hand bring I,
    With garlands gay and rosemary;
    I pray you all synge merrily,
    Qui estis in convivio.”

It will be a great disappointment to our readers when we have to
confess that the unlucky fellows called literary critics have found
out that the stage-direction, “Eastcheap. A room in the Boar’s Head
Tavern,” is not Shakespeare’s own remark, since we do not find it in
the early editions of “Henry IV.” Still more so when they hear that
the relief in Guildhall bears the date 1668 and has been chiseled,
therefore, fifty-two years after the poet’s death. A little
consolation we find in the not improbable supposition that it is a
copy in stone from the original wooden sign. Did not the famous fire,
which raged from Pudding Lane to Pye Corner in the year 1666, destroy
nearly all the Shakespearean London, with its old-fashioned frame
houses? For greater security the new buildings were erected in stone
and the old house emblems and carved tavern signs reappeared, too, in
more substantial form. The Guildhall Museum furnishes quite a number
of examples: “The Anchor” of 1669, “The Bell” of 1668, “The Spread
Eagle” of 1669, and others.

And now let us follow Heinrich Heine on his voyage to Italy and hear
from him how in his days the noble palace of the Capulets, Julia’s
paternal home in Verona, was debased to a common tavern. Near the
Piazza dell Erbe “stands a house which the people identify with the
old palace of the Capulets on account of a cap (in Italian ‘cappello’)
sculptured above the inner archway. It is now a dirty bar for carters
and coachmen; a red iron hat, full of holes, hangs out as a tavern
sign.” To-day this disgraceful sign has disappeared and a marble slab
consecrates the popular myth as historical fact. This was then the
house where Romeo for the first time saw his lady love:--

    _Romeo._ What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand
             Of yonder knight?

     _Servant._ I know not, sir.

     _Romeo._ O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
              Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night
              Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear;
              Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!

Shakespeare’s geographical knowledge seems to have been very limited.
If he could have gone, as the citizen of Stratford to-day, to the
Carnegie library, how many shocking errors he had avoided! Here he
could have learned that Bohemia has no seacoast, that Florence is not
a port, and that the forest of Arden neither hides lions nor contains
palms. But would this knowledge have increased his poetical feeling
and his power of representation? Hardly. The northern land with its
“sniping winds,” how well it is characterized; how simple and true to
life his description of the mild climate of Sicily, crowned with
temples, in the “Winter’s Tale” (III, i):--

    “The climate’s delicate, the air most sweet,
    Fertile the isle; temple much surpassing
    The common praise it bears.”

It was not yet the fashion to flee the winter and try to find eternal
spring in the South. Every season is welcome to the poet who loves the
peculiar charm of each one, as he says in “Love’s Labor’s Lost”
(I, i):--

    “At Christmas I no more desire a rose
    Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows,
    But like of each thing that in season grows.”

He probably never traveled far, but how intensely does he feel the
curious sensations of all travelers, the weariness and yet the
eagerness to see the new sights! How perfectly modern sound in the
“Comedy of Errors” (I, i) the words:--

    “Go bear it to the Centaur, where we host,
    And stay there, Dromio, till I come to thee.
    Within this hour it will be dinner time,
    Till that, I’ll view the manners of the town,
    Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings
    And then return and sleep within mine inn,
    For with long travel I am stiff and weary.”

He possessed, like Schiller, who never saw Switzerland, and yet wrote
“Tell,” the wonderful gift of filling the lack of distinct knowledge
with the poetical power of imagination, or, as he calls it himself,
“to make imaginary puissance” and “to piece out our imperfections with
our thought.”

No doubt certain things, details of local civilization, cannot be
imagined. One has to go and study them. We will therefore, to gain a
fuller understanding of the hospitality of the sixteenth century,
follow a contemporary of Shakespeare in his travels, Montaigne, a
clear-sighted observer, who as _grand seigneur_ had the good fortune
to make extended voyages in France, Southern Germany, and Italy.
Although himself rather a spoiled gentleman, he generally is full of
praise for the comforts and elegance of the inns, especially in the
south of Germany. Only once he had to complain about the “liberté et
fierté Almanesque,” and this happened at Constance in the “Eagle.” The
elegance of the Renaissance hostelries was indeed surprising and has
hardly been surpassed in our days of luxurious traveling. Not only
most of the beds were covered with silk, as in the “Crown” at Chalons,
for instance,--“la pluspart des lits et couvertes sont de soie,”--but
sometimes the table silver was richly and artistically decorated, as
in the “Bear” at Kempten (Bavaria): “On nous y servit de grands tasses
d’arjant de plus de sortes (qui n’out usage que d’ornemant, fort
labourées et semées d’armoiries de divers Seigneurs), qu’il ne s’en
tient en guière de bones maisons.” In many places still the wooden
plates and cups were used, sometimes covered with silver; tin plates,
which appear at the end of the fifteenth century, seem to impress
Montaigne as a novelty. He notes at least expressly that in the “Rose”
at Innsbruck he was served in “assiettes d’étain.” In the same very
good “logis” he admired the beautiful laces which decorated the
bed-linen--the pride of the German Hausfrau to the present day. The
sheets had, he said, “quatre doigt de riche ouvrage de passement
blanc, comme en la pluspart des autres villes d’Allemaigne.” Other
things, on the contrary, which one finds to-day in the most modest
lodging-house--as, a stairway carpet--seem to him very strange and a
great novelty, although he used to stop only in first-class houses.
The inn “Zur Linde” in Augsburg--“a l’enseigne d’un arbre nomé ‘linde’
au pais”--possessed this novel luxury, and Montaigne describes it in
this detailed manner: “Le premier apprêt étrange et qui montre leur
properté, ce fut de trouver à notre arrivée le degrés de la vis
(spiral stairway) de notre logis tout couvert de linges, pardessus
lesquels il nous falloit marcher, pour ne salir les marches de leur
vis qu’on venait de laver.”

The linden tree was very popular in Germany as a tavern sign; under
the shadow and in the sweet perfume of the village Linde, old and
young loved to gather to dance and sing. How cozy the inn room looked
at times we may see from his description of the “Crown” in Lindau. A
great bird cage “à loger grand nombre d’oiseaus” was connected with
the woodwork of the comfortable bench that used to surround the big
stove. A look at Dürer’s engraving, “The Dream,” will help our
phantasy to see and feel more clearly the “Gemütlichkeit” of such a
stove-corner. Leaning back in soft cushions, a philistine in
dressing-gown is peacefully dozing, while a beautiful young woman
standing at his side seems to reveal a part of his dream.

The most luxurious hotel Montaigne ever stopped at was one in Rome,
nobly called “Au Vase d’Or.” “As in the palace of kings,” the
furniture was covered with silk and golden brocades. But he did not
feel at home in his royal room, constantly fearing to injure the
costly things, and to get a great bill against him for damages. So he
decided to move to more modest quarters, not without dictating to his
secretary: “M. de Montaigne estima que cette magnificence estoit
non-sulement inutile, mais encore pénible pour la conservation de ces
meubles, chaque lict estant du pris de quatre ou cinq çans escus.”
Most of the Italian inns of his time stood in curious contrast to this
royal sumptuosity. Often the windows were mere holes in the walls,
simply closed with wooden shutters, which darkened the room
completely if one needed to be protected against sun, wind, or rain.
Such was the case of the “Crown” in Siena: “Nous lojames à la
Couronne, assés bien, mais toujours sans vitres et sans chassis. Ces
fenêtres grandes et toute ouvertes, sauf un grand contrevent de bois,
qui vous chasse le jour, si vous en voulez chasser le soleil ou le
vent; ce qu’il trouvoit bien plus insupportable et irremédiable que la
faute des rideaux d’Allemaigne.” This lack of curtains in German
hostelries was still, two hundred and fifty years later, for Victor
Hugo a reason to complain about the “indigence des rideaux.” A real
miserable time Monsieur de Montaigne had in Florence in the
“hostellerie de l’ange,” where certain little creatures drive him out
of bed and force him to sleep on the table: “J’etois forcé la nuit de
dormir sur la table de la salle ou je faisais mettre des matelas et
des draps ... pour éviter les punaises dont tous les lits sont fort
infectés.” A similar experience he has in San Lorenzo, near Viterbo,
the charming little town of countless fountains.

But we must take leave of our noble traveling companion and visit the
painters’ studios of the time to see if we cannot find in their work
pictures of the taverns and signs we have heard so much about.




[Illustration: The Trumpeter before a Tavern From a Painting by Du
Jardin in Amsterdam]



    “Als de vien es in der man
    dan is de wiesheid in de kan.”

Carlyle once complained that the artists preferred to paint
“Corregiosities,” creations of their own fancy, instead of
representing the historic events of their own times. Only the Dutch
painters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in so far as
they keep clear of the Italian influence, may justly be called true
historical painters, certainly with greater reason than the school of
historical painting in the nineteenth century, which tried to
reconstruct events of epochs long past with the antiquarian help of
old armor, swords, costumes, and the like. We will find, therefore, in
the works of the Dutch masters the truest historical documents for our
modest sphere of investigation.

While Greek art reflected, as in a pure mirror, the harmony of worldly
and religious life in Hellas, the mediæval art essentially served
religious ideas, but in giving them a visible form used the worldly
elements of contemporary costume and architecture. Great artists like
Giotto, whose merits the proud words on his tombstone characterize,
“Ille ego sum per quem pinctura extincta revixit,” proved themselves
the best historians, because they possessed, besides deep religious
concentration, the gift of true observation, thus introducing in their
works valuable information about the life of their own time.

Not until the dawn of the Renaissance had freed the worldly spirit
from ecclesiastical shackles did men imbued with a deep-rooted love of
their country, like the Venetian Vittore Carpaccio, or the Florentine
Benozzo Gozzoli, give us true pictures of home life. Out of the solemn
walls of churches and cloisters they lead us into the animated and
picturesque life of the streets, which were not, as some authors try
to make us believe, above all the scene of wild and unbridled
passions, but which we might compare with arteries filled with the red
and healthy blood of social life. In his frescoes from the life of St.
Augustine in San Gimignano, Benozzo shows us how parents present
their little boy to the “magistro grammatice” in the street in front
of the open schoolroom. Little Augustine, crossing his arms over his
breast in an attitude of deference, looks rather inquisitively at his
future master, while in the parents’ faces we read the earnest hope
that the son will make “ultra modum” great progress, and never deserve
such shameful public punishment as we see administered to the little
good-for-nothing on the right side of the picture. But we do not
observe a schoolmaster sign hung out, such as have come down to us
from the German sixteenth century. The Italian painter still delights,
above all, in the architectural beauty of his native city. In the same
way Carpaccio shows us the piazzas and canals of his beloved Venice in
the splendor of processions, solemn receptions of foreign ambassadors,
and the like, decorated with flags and Oriental carpets. The humble
inn of the people does not yet attract the eye of the artist, who
delights in the elegance of palaces and the grandeur of public

The early artists of the Netherlands, too, represent the street, not
filled with the noisy, everyday life of the people, but as a quiet
stage, on which the holy procession of saints solemnly move, as in
Memling’s picture of St. Ursula’s arrival in Rome. In quiet, elegant
rooms the noble donors kneel before the holy virgin, saints unite in a
“santa conversazione,” far from the world. Here and there only a
window looks out on a tiny landscape, with rivers and bridges, roads,
and fortified towns on distant hills, beyond which our “Wanderlust”
draws us. This little section of nature slowly grows larger, the
narrow limitations of architecture fall; crowned only with the
glorious light of heaven, Mary sits in the open green fields, which
give good pasture to the tired donkey. Thus Jan van Scorel has painted
the holy family in a charming picture of the collection Rath in Pest.
Out of pious seclusion the way leads into free nature, to meadows and
brooks, to clattering mills, and finally, for a rest after the long
walk, to the peasant’s inn.

Even earlier, before the Dutch painters, a pupil of Dürer, Hans Sebald
Beham, one of the “godless painters of Nuremberg,” who were exiled
from their native town on account of socialistic tendencies, has taken
us along this road. In one of his larger engravings he pictures the
different stages of a rustic wedding, and for the first time shows us
the signboard, hanging on a long stick, from a dormer window of the
tavern. We might date the painted sign from the invention of oil
painting on wooden panels by the brothers Van Eyck, an art which was
introduced in Italy through Antonello da Messina as late as 1473. The
signs of earlier date we have to imagine as either sculptures, closely
united with the architecture of the house, or as mural paintings such
as we still see to-day in Stein-on-the-Rhine, for instance, on the
house “Zum Ochsen.”

Master Dürer himself once hung out the little tablet with his famous
monogram as a tavern sign over the fantastic ruin, in which he places
the birth of Christ in his beautiful engraving of the year 1504, proud
to have prepared such a cozy inn for Our Lady and her God-given Child.

But the whole wealth of signs, from the natural simple form of the
speaking sign to the most elaborate examples of signs painted or
artfully wrought in iron, reveals itself to us later in the realistic
pictures of the Dutch painters.

The earliest representation of a speaking sign, where the merchandise
itself is still hung out, I have seen in a woodcut illustrating a book
printed in Augsburg in 1536: “Hie hebt an das Concilium zu Constanz.”

It is a baker’s sign: large “brezels” on a wooden stick, a primitive
precursor of the artful baker’s sign we observe in Jan Steen’s
charming picture “The baker Arent Oostwaard” in the Rijks Museum at
Amsterdam. In more modern times the real merchandise is sometimes
supplanted by an imitation of the different loafs in wood and neatly
painted in natural colors, such as we see in an amusing sign from
Borgo San Dalmazzo, a picturesque mountain town near Cuneo in northern

A similar evolution may be noted in other trade signs: first the real
boots, and later a copy in wood, painted red if possible; first the
big pitcher and the shining tin tankard decorated with fresh foliage,
later the imitation in a wreath of iron leaves. Everywhere in the
tavern and kermess scenes painted by Dutch masters, we see real
pitchers and tankards hanging over the doors as speaking signs
inviting the peasants to enter and partake of a refreshing drink. In
northern Germany the “Krug” (pitcher) was so popular as a sign that
the landlord was called after it, “Krüger,” to this day a widely
spread family name.

[Illustration: Panetteria Borgo San Dalmazzo·]

Unfortunately the Dutch artists loved the interior of the tavern still
better than its façade, otherwise we should find still more of the old
signs in their pictures. Jan Steen, a genius in the art of living as
well as in the art of painting, was a brewer’s son and occasionally he
played the landlord himself, in 1654, in the tavern “Zur Schlange,”
and in 1656 “In der Roskam,” both in Delft. In his latter days, when
he had returned to his birthplace, Leyden, where he once was enrolled
as a student of the university, he obtained a license from the city
fathers “de neringh van openbare herbergh.” Who could deny æsthetic
influence to tavern rooms bedecked with genuine Steens? Other artists
like Brouwer paid their tavern debts in pictures, and thus created an
artistic atmosphere in which young artists like Steen himself felt
most naturally at ease.

In a picture in Brussels, “The Assembly of the Rhetoricians,” the
president of a debating society reads the prize poem to the peasantry
assembled outside a tavern, the speaking sign of which, pitcher and
tankard, is hanging out on a large oaken branch. More frequent than
this bush is the wreath--known to us already as a sign in
antiquity--surrounding the jolly pitcher as we see it in Du Jardin’s
sunny picture “The Trumpeter before a Tavern,” in Amsterdam.

David Teniers gives the preference to the half moon and rarely omits
to place a pitcher above the signboard. Sometimes he decorates his
moon tavern with the escutcheon of Austria and the imperial eagle; for
instance, in a picture in Vienna. In his great painting in the Louvre
we see a mail-stage-driver’s horn, a kind of hunting-horn, although
the master, who died in 1690, did not live to see the mail-coach

[Illustration: The Half-Moon from a painting by Teniers in London]

In the representations, then so popular, of corporations assembled at
festive meals, we sometimes remark in the background, through an open
window, the stately guild-houses crowned with their signs; the little
lamb with the flag, for instance, in Bartholomæus van der Helst’s
superb banquet of the city guard in the Rijks Museum at Amsterdam. But
perhaps no other artist has given us a more vivid impression of the
beauty of the street with its various glittering signs than the
brothers Berkheyden in the picture of which we reproduce a section in
our Frontispiece. The street itself has been the painter’s real
object, the play of light and shade on its various architectural
features fascinates him more than the people passing through it, who
once acted the principal rôle and are now treated as mere accessories
valuable for accenting the perspective of the picture. Gerrit
Berkheyden has painted the same market-place of Harlem again in his
sunny picture of 1674 in the London National Gallery, but this time
the street, gayly decorated with signs, is more distant and lost in

Fifty years later Hogarth gave us a picture of London streets and
their fantastic signs, but not in the Dutch spirit of naïve
truthfulness. There is hardly an engraving among his numerous
productions representing a street scene, without a tavern sign. All
forms are represented, the detached signpost characteristic of
England, such as the “Adam and Eve” sign on the large engraving “The
March to Finchley,” or the sign of “The Sun” hung out on a bracket in
his engraving of “The Day,” dated 1738; again, a painted board,
fastened against the wall, as we see it over the door of the Bell
Tavern, in one of his earliest prints dated 1731 in the cycle “A
Harlot’s Progress.” In the same plate we notice over another tavern
door a large chessboard, familiar to us from the old Roman taverns.
Usually this cubistic pattern decorates the signpost standing in front
of the alehouse, as seen in our design of the sign-painter from the
engraving “The Day.” Hogarth’s sarcastic mind was inclined anyway to
distort life’s pictures like a comic mirror, and it will be difficult
to determine how much further he has caricatured the actual signs he
saw in the streets of London which, themselves, were very often the
creations of a cartoonist. Most of his signs seem true copies from
life; others, like the barber sign in the engraving “The Night,” or
the above-mentioned “Good Eating,” I am inclined to think
exaggerations or fanciful inventions, although, to be sure, the carved
frame around the gruesome pitcher of St. John the Baptist’s head shows
a distinct historic style, somewhat plainer and of more recent date
than the richly carved Renaissance frame of the Adam and Eve

While to Hogarth the sign seemed to be an excellent medium wherewith
to increase the bitterness of his satire, the German romantic artists
of the nineteenth century, Moritz von Schwind and Spitzweg, loved to
introduce it in their pictures as a fairy element. The golden pattern
of a star sign is woven into the soft lines of their compositions:
“The Farewell,” by Spitzweg, and the famous “Wedding Journey,” by
Schwind, in the Schack Gallery at Munich. A friendly star is twinkling
over both the lovers who part with tears, and those who are starting
upon their journey in the dewy morning of life.



[Illustration: A Sign-Painter from an Engraving by Hogarth]



    “Ou il n’y a pas d’église je regarde les enseignes.”


Good old Diderot, who to-day sits so peacefully in his armchair of
bronze on the Boulevard Saint-Germain and observes with philosophical
calm the restless stream of Parisian life passing him by day and
night, was once a severe critic. We might call him the father of
critics, since he reviewed the first French Art Exhibition arranged in
the Salon carré of the Louvre. From this salon the modern French
Expositions in Paris derive their name, although they have grown into
bewildering labyrinths of art and have long ago lost the intimacy and
elegance inherent in a salon. When Diderot intended to hurt the
feelings of an exhibiting artist, he used to call him a “peintre
d’enseigne,” and he was cruel enough to use this term rather
frequently with those painters “qui ne se servent de la brosse que
pour salir la toile.” In the famous encyclopædia which, together with
d’Alembert, he edited in 1779, and which brought them the honorary
title of “Encyclopédistes,” he gives two definitions of the French
word for sign, “enseigne”: first, a flag; and second, condescendingly,
“petit tableau pendu à une boutique.” As we see, the great critic did
not appreciate sign-painters and their works very highly; and in this
respect he only shared the general opinion of the public, which liked
to poke fun at these “artistes en plein vent.”

Charlet, who usually celebrates in his lithographs the soldiers of the
great Napoleon, is the author of an amusing cartoon on our poor
sign-painters. “J’aime la couleur” is the title of the spirituel
design which leaves us in doubt which color the sign-artist really
prefers--the red on his large palette or the red of the wine in the
glass he is holding.

In similar vein Hogarth represents him as a poor devil in rags and as
a conceited fellow evidently very proud of his mediocre work. Like his
French colleague he loves a drink in this cold, windy business of his;
at least the round bottle hanging on the frame of the signboard
contains to our mind, not varnish, but something in the Scotch
whiskey line.

To the “Musée de la rue” his immortal works were dedicated, said a
malicious Frenchman; but after all, was this really so degrading at a
time when excellent artists did not hesitate to exhibit their work in
the open street? Monsieur Georges Cain, the director of the Carnavalet
Museum, who knows all the “Coins de Paris” so well and with whom it is
so entertaining to promenade “à travers Paris,” tells us that in the
days before the Revolution the young artists who were not yet members
of the official academies used to show their paintings on the Place
Dauphine, once situated behind the Palais de Justice. If Jupiter
Pluvius did not interfere, the exhibition was arranged on the day of
the “petite Fête-Dieu.” Great linen sheets were pinned over the
shop-windows and formed the background for paintings of such eminent
artists as Oudry, Boucher, Nattier, or Chardin, works of art which
to-day are considered treasures of the Louvre, as “La Raie,” exhibited
by Chardin for the first time in 1728 in this museum of the street.
“Quel joli spectacle,” says Cain in his “Coins de Paris,” “devaient
offrir la place Dauphine, les façades roses des deux maisons
d’angle et le vieux Pont-Neuf--décor exquis, pittoresque et
charmeur--encombrés d’amateurs, de badauds, de critiques, de belles
dames, d’artistes, d’aimables modèles en claire toilette, se pressant
affairés, babillards, enthousiastes, joyeux, par une douce matinée de
mai, devant les toiles fraîches écloses des Petits Exposants de la
Place Dauphine!”

Our respect for the “artistes en plein vent” can but increase, when we
hear that three famous painters have begun their career with the
composition of a sign: Holbein, Prud’hon, and Chardin. All kinds of
tavern anecdotes are in circulation regarding Holbein, who was rather
a gay bird in his youth. According to one of them he once got so tired
of painting the decoration of a tavern room that he concluded to
deceive the landlord, watching eagerly his work, by counterfeiting
himself standing on a scaffold before the wall busily engaged in his
work. Thus he was able to skip out and have a good time in another
tavern, while the good landlord, every time he looked through the
door, was pleased to see him ever diligently working. One of
Holbein’s earliest works was a sign for a pedagogue representing a
schoolroom; this is still preserved in the Museum at Basle.

Who would have thought that Prud’hon--the artist who dwelled in
romantic dreams, and whose wonderful creation of Psyche, borne away by
loving wind-gods, lives on, a pleasant fancy in our minds--had begun
his artistic career by painting a sign for a hatter in his native
town? This, we suppose, was the first and last time that he painted
such an unpoetical thing as a hat. Like Holbein he was just fourteen
years old at the time when he produced this picture, which likewise
has come down to us; at least it still existed when the École des
Beaux-Arts in Paris arranged a Prud’hon Exhibition in 1874.

The third great artist who gained his first success by means of a sign
was Chardin. A friend of his father, a surgeon, who did not disdain to
play the barber as a side issue had given him the order. It was not
unusual for doctors to hang out a pretty sign; if they were poetically
inclined, they ventured a little rhyme on it, as shown by this Dutch

    “Den Chirurgijn
    Vermindert de pijn
    Door Gods Genade.”

For this respect the barber and hair-dressing artists showed no less
talent, as this French verse will sufficiently prove:--

    “La Nature donne barbe et cheveux
    Et moi, je les coupe tous les deux.”

Well, our “chirurgien-barbier” followed the general custom of his time
and ordered a sign. Naturally he expected Chardin to paint on it all
his knives, his trepan, and other instruments of torture, and was not
a little surprised to find something very different. The proportions
of the signboard, which was very long, twelve feet long by three feet
high, had suggested to the young artist an animated composition which
he styled “les suites d’un duel dans la rue” and for which all the
members of his family had been obliged to pose as models. Only one
part of the picture, where the wounded was carried to a surgeon’s
office, referred to the business of his father’s friend. Fearing,
therefore, a possible objection on his part, the artist took the
precaution to fasten the sign in the night to the doctor’s house, who
was awakened in the morning by a big crowd assembled before it,
evidently admiring the chef d’Œuvre. Unfortunately this early work
of Chardin’s no longer exists. His paintings, so much more serious and
solid than the frivolities of Boucher and Lancret, the idols of the
public of his time, have only recently, in our democratic times,
received fully the appreciation they deserve.

But the most famous of signs painted by a great artist is without
doubt the one which Watteau, in 1720, shortly before his death, made
for the art dealer Gersaint, in three days, “to limber up his stiff
old fingers.” It is one of the most beautiful things Watteau ever
produced and is now in the possession of the German Kaiser. French
critics, however, think that it was executed by a pupil, from the
original sketch of the master, which has been found and which shows
more “loose qualities,” to use an artist’s term. However that may be,
the picture that Frederic the Great purchased through his art agent in
Paris is a beauty. A good friend of Watteau’s, a Monsieur de Julienne,
the first possessor of the sign, and owner of another painted by
Watteau for Gersaint’s art shop, entitled “Vertumnus and Pomona,” was
very proud of this new possession, as we might judge from the fact
that he asked the engraver Aveline to engrave it with this

    “Watteau, dans cette enseigne à la fleur de ses ans
    Des Maîstres de son art imite la manière;
        Leurs caractères différens,
    Leurs touches et leur goût composent la matière
        De ces esquisses élégans.”

These words refer to a picture gallery in Gersaint’s shop which
Watteau carefully reproduces in the sign, but which to our modern eyes
is less fascinating than the elegant customers, ladies and gentlemen,
and the amusing eagerness and enthusiasm of these aristocratic

Another sign by Watteau, the loss of which we have to deplore, was the
property of a “marchande de modes.” No doubt it tempted many a
“Parisienne” to buy rather more of the charming Watteau costumes than
were strictly necessary.

A modern French artist who sometimes has been honored with the name
“Watteau Montmartrois,” the illustrator Willette, has produced in our
days the sign for the famous cabaret, the “Chat Noir” prototype of
all cabarets in France and elsewhere. Two other signs by his
master-hand, “À l’image de Notre Dame” and “À Bonaparte,” may still be
seen in Paris on the Quai Voltaire and on the corner of the Rue
Bonaparte and the Rue de l’Abbaie.

Other great French artists have painted signs occasionally: Greuze did
the “Enseigne du Huron” for a tobacco merchant--which may remind us of
the wooden Indian, guarding similar American shops in the old days;
Carle Vernet and his son Horace Vernet; Géricault, the great
sportsman, whose career as an artist was cut short by a violent fall
from a horse, is the author of the “Cheval blanc,” which once adorned
a tavern in the neighborhood of Paris; Gavarni, the great
lithographer, painted a sign, “Aux deux Pierrots,” and drew it later
on stone; Carolus Duran’s “enseigne brossée vigoureusement sur une
plaque légèrement courbée” was first exhibited in the Salon de la
Société Nationale before it was placed over the door of a
fencing-school; and many others.

Among the French sculptors Jean Goujon, perhaps the greatest of them,
the creator of the Fontaine des Innocents in Paris and its charmingly
graceful figures, is mentioned as the author of a sign, “La chaste
Suzanne,” which once embellished a house in the Rue aux Fêves. To-day
a plaster cast has been substituted for the original, bought by an art
collector. In the old streets of Paris we may still discover here and
there sculptured signs of artistic charm, such as “La Fontaine de
Jouvence” in the Rue de Four Saint-Germain, 67, and the fine relief of
the “Soleil d’or” in the Rue Saint-Sauveur. The little Bacchus riding
so gayly on a cask, who once decorated the “Cabaret du Lapin blanc,”
spends to-day a rather dull existence, together with other retired
colleagues of his, in the Musée Carnavalet. Our little “Rémouleur,”
from the Rue des Nonains d’Hyères, who does not fail to amply moisten
his grindstone, is not only a suggestive symbol, but in his dainty
rococo dress a very amusing piece of sculpture.

We cannot end our chat on signs by French artists without mentioning
the name of Victor Hugo, to whom we owe so much information about the
wealth of signs that still existed at his time in France and the
countries bordering on the Rhine. He was himself a clever draughtsman
and occasionally sketched “des dessins aux enseignes enchevêtrées,”
reminiscences of the real signs he used to admire on his wanderings.
The following quotation may show how great was his love for signs: “À
Rhinfelden, les exubérantes enseignes d’auberge m’ont occupé comme
des cathédrales; et j’ai l’esprit fait ainsi, qu’ à de certains
moments un étang de village, clair comme un miroir d’acier, entouré de
chaumières et traversé par une flotille de canards me régale autant
que le lac de Genève.”

[Illustration: Enseigne du Rémouleur·Paris]

Among the great Dutch masters Paulus Potter, Albert Cuyp, and
Wouwerman are cited as occasional sign-painters. Even Potter’s famous
“Jonge Stier” in The Hague is claimed as a butcher’s sign. It would
perhaps seem like doing too much honor to the art of sign-painting if
we numbered this remarkable work of the twenty-two-year-old artist
among them. And what beautiful white horses, bathed in mellow
sunlight, Cuyp may have painted for the “Rössle” taverns! Another
Dutch artist, Laurens van der Vinne (1629-1702), is even called the
Raphael among sign-painters. We do not know much about his work, but I
am afraid he did not take this title as a compliment.

To find Rembrandt’s great name in connection with our art seems
stranger still, but there is a tradition that copies of his
pictures--we may think of his good Samaritan arriving with the wounded
man before an inn--were used as signs. As we shall see later, his own
portrait was occasionally hung out by a patriotic and art-loving
landlord over the tavern door.

Among English artists Hogarth, whom we already know as a keen observer
of London signs, deserves the first place. He is supposed to be the
author of a sign, not very gallant to the fair sex, called “A man
loaded with mischief.” It represents a wife-ridden man. All kinds of
delicate allusions hidden in the background of the composition seem to
hint at the sad fact that this impudent woman on his back holding a
glass of gin gets sometimes “drunk as a sow.” I doubt if Hogarth
engraved this plate himself; it is signed “Sorrow” as the engraver and
“Experience” as the designer. It would do little honor either to
Hogarth the man or the artist.

All satirical art has this great deficiency, that it is hard for the
public to judge whether the satire means to combat seriously the vices
and errors of men or whether the smile of the satirist is not a smile
of complacency. But such doubts must not detain us from visiting with
good humor an exhibition of signs, the spiritual promoter of which
Hogarth seems to have been. At any rate, he contributed quite a few of
his own works under the transparent pseudonym “Hagarty.”

Bonnell Thornton, who, after a brilliant journalistic career as editor
of “The Connoisseur,” “The St. James’s Chronicle,” and other
publications, received the greatest honor accorded to Englishmen, a
final abode in Westminster Abbey, was the originator of this curious
exhibition. Hogarth was at least on the “hanging committee.” The fact
that the gates of the Signboard Exhibition were opened in the spring
of 1762, at the same time as the official Exhibition of the Society
for the Encouragement of Arts, provoked the anger of the “Brother
Artists” and was the signal for a perfect storm among the newspapers.
Furious articles stigmatized the enterprise as “the most impudent and
pickpocket Abuse that I ever knew offered to the Publick.” “The best
entertainment it can afford is that of standing in the street, and
observing with how much shame in their Faces People come out of the
House. Pity it will be, if all who are employed in the carrying on
this Cheat, are not seized and sent to serve the King.” In those days,
“to serve the King” was evidently a severe punishment. The
sign-painters in their turn hurried to protest their innocence and to
refute “the most malicious suggestion that their Exhibition is
designed as a Ridicule on the Exhibition of the Society for the
Encouragement of Arts. They are not in the least prompted by any mean
Jealousie to depreciate the Merits of their Brother Artists, ... their
sole View is to convince Foreigners, as well as their own blinded
Countrymen, that however inferior this Nation may be unjustly deemed
in other Branches of the Polite Arts, the Palm of Sign-Painting must
be universally ceded to Us, the Dutch themselves not excepted.” The
committee even reprinted the articles and letters abusive of the
Exhibition, “thanking the critics for so successfully advertising
their efforts.”

No doubt, this exposition was a rare treat. Not only were all the
painted signs “worse executed than any that are to be seen in the
meanest streets, and the carved Figures,” as one of the curious who
visited the show tells us, “the very worst of Signpost Work, but
several Tobacco Rolls, Sugar Loaves, Hats, Wigs, Stockings and Gloves,
and even a Westphalian Ham hung round the room.” “The Cream of the
whole Jest,” or, as the French would say, the “clou de l’exposition,”
were two boards behind blue curtains with the warning inscription:
“Ladies and gentlemen are requested not to finger them, as blue
curtains are hung over in purpose to preserve them.” Since it was the
custom in those days to hide pictures of too indelicate a nature in
this fashion, the ladies, of course, did not dare to gratify their
curiosity. But lascivious gentlemen who did not hesitate to lift the
curtains found only the mocking words: “Ha! Ha! Ha!” and “He! He! He!”

The amusing catalogue of this extraordinary Exhibition has been
published in full in the Appendix of Larwood and Hotten’s “History of
Signboards.” It mentions many of our old acquaintances like “The
Salutation, or French and English manners”; others are new to us, as
“The Barking Dogs,” “a landscape at moonlight, the moon somewhat
eclipsed by an accident.” The peruke-maker’s sign, “Absalom hanging,”
is again an old friend of ours. But the rhyme underneath--

    “If Absalom had not worn his own hair
    Absalom had not been hanging there”--

seems to us not quite equal in poetical value to the following we read
somewhere else:--

    “Oh Absalom! oh Absalom!
      Oh Absalom! my son,
    If thou hadst worn a periwig
      Thou hadst not been undone.”

Some of Hagarty’s contributions have moralizing titles--as, “The
Spirit of Contradiction,” representing two brewers with a barrel of
beer, pulling different ways--which do not amuse us any more to-day.
“The Logger-Heads,” or, “We are Three” (add: fools), is an old sign to
which Shakespeare alludes in his “Twelfth Night” (II, iii), where the
Fool comes between Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and,
taking each by the hand, says: “How now, my Hearts, did you never see
the picture of We Three?” In country taverns sometimes two asses were
painted on the wall, with the inscription: “We three asses.” The
newcomer used to spell these words with great seriousness, to the
delight of the old customers. Another sign by Hagarty, “Death and the
Doctor,” evidently goes back to the popular scenes of the “Dance of
Death” and reminds us of other gruesome signs, the above-mentioned
French signs, “La Mort qui trompe,” “La Fête de Mort” in Lyon and “La
Cave des Morts” in Geneva. This physician’s sign probably resembled
the rude woodcuts of the first printed editions of the “Dance of
Death” from the fifteenth century: the doctor very unwilling to follow
his colleague, “the sure Physician,” as Shakespeare has called Death.
Some such picture was in the poet’s mind when he wrote the words in
“Cymbeline,” V, v:--

    “By medicine life may be prolong’d, yet death
    Will seize the doctor too.”

This exhibition of Signboards inspired by Hogarth was the first and
most amusing of its kind. More than one hundred years later an
“Exposition Nationale des Enseignes parlantes artistiques” was
arranged in Brussels with one hundred and forty-one different signs,
and in 1902 the Prefet de la Seine organized in the City Hall of Paris
a great “Concours d’Enseignes.” Both represent serious and idealistic
efforts to improve the artistic side of trade-signs, and by this means
to ennoble the picture of the street so often disfigured by vulgar
advertisements. Well-known artists, as the sculptors Dervé and
Moreau-Vauthier, the painters Willette, Bellery-Desfontaines, Félix
Régamey, and the popular collaborator of “Le Rire,” Albert Guilleaume,
contributed to this exhibition and thus stimulated their colleagues to
work for the Museum of the Street. Henri Détaille, the famous painter
of battle scenes and pupil of Meissonier, was the spiritual author of
the competition. In a letter to Grand-Carteret, the writer of a great,
luxurious publication on the signs of Lyon, he had expressed the hope
to educate and refine the artistic instinct of the masses through this
medium of noble signs: “L’enseigne amusera la foule: rien n’empêche
même qu’elle soit instructive tout en restant une très pure œuvre
d’art.” He ends his letter with the following lines that give credit
to his good heart and his sympathy for the common people: “Que les
enseignes les plus belles les plus artistiques aillent surtout dans
les quartiers pauvres, populeux et privés, de toute manifestation
d’art.” If we reflect that indeed the posters often are the only
touches of brightness in the gray monotony of the poor quarters, we
will heartily join Détaille in the wish that these posters might be
pure and noble creations of art. Certain German posters, lithographed
by such artists as Cissarz, seem to approach this ideal. The recent
German War-Poster, “Gedenket Eurer Dichter und Denker,” may find an
honorable mention in this connection.

In England the advice Détaille gave to the artists “à reprendre la
tradition” has never been entirely forgotten, and even to the present
day well-known artists have not disdained to paint signs occasionally.
But before we enter the amiable society of contemporary artists we
will show due honor to the great master Grinling Gibbons, who, so to
speak, is an honorary member of the Sign-Makers’ Guild. To no visitor
of London is the name of this sculptor unfamiliar. His master-hand
carved the choir stalls in St. Paul’s Cathedral and many elaborate
wood-sculptures in royal castles. One of his works is the famous
golden cock in “Ye Olde Cock Tavern” in Fleet Street. When the old
house was torn down to make room for a branch office of the Bank of
England, the noble bird was obliged to move across the street, where
he now occupies the seat of honor in a large and rather dull room. I
am sure he would prefer to roost in the little paneled room, up
another flight, where Tennyson wrote the poem that made the creature

[Illustration: ·THE·GOAT·IN·KENSINGTON·]

Among the living English artists who painted signs we may mention
Nicholson and Pryde, both experts in the art of the poster. Our
illustration “The Goat,” which hangs out on High Street, No. 3, in
London, is attributed to them, but even the greatest admirer of
Nicholson’s woodcuts will not find it worth while to pay a visit to
this unattractive ale-house. There is more charm in “The Rowing
Barge,” a signed work of G. D. Leslie, member of the Royal Academy, in
Wallingford on the Thames, where we found it in the neighborhood of
the old Norman Church of St. Leonhard.

It took even two Academicians, Leslie and L. E. Hodgson, to produce
the “George and Dragon” sign in Wargrave, a fascinating little place
buried amidst the greenery of giant trees. The damp climate has
effaced and darkened the sign considerably; the owner of the inn has
therefore taken it in and placed it on the garden side of the house,
under the protection of a balcony. Wargrave has a few other remarkable
signs, such as the one of the “Bull Inn,” which seems to be inspired
by the beautiful picture of young Potter.

But not the least beautiful among signs are the works of unknown
artists. All the admirable signs in forged iron, from the eighteenth
century and the beginning of the nineteenth, in southern Germany,
belong to this group. Benno Rüttenauer, to whom we are indebted in
many ways, has praised these pure works of art in an article on
“Swabian Tavern Signs”: “They are a joy to the eye and caress it as
the melody of a folk-song caresses the ear.” From what invisible
sources springs their beauty? we ask, just as we do before the great,
miraculous flowers of Gothic cathedrals rising mysteriously from the
plain cornfields of northern France. Simple artisans were their
inventors and creators, men who dared to let their own ideas grow in
the free play of glowing, flexible iron, not yet disturbed by
pattern-books and school wisdom.

More beautiful still than these are the eternal signs with which
Mother Nature, the only real teacher of all true artists, invites the
weary pilgrim to rest: the moon, the gentle shining stars, and the
blossoming trees under whose perfumed branches we sleep so sweetly.
This is the oldest inn; the Germans call it “Bei Mutter Grün,” and the
French speak similarly of “loger à l’enseigne de la lune”; “coucher à
l’enseigne de la belle étoile.” Nobody has sung the charms of this
natural inn more sweetly than the Swabian poet Uhland in his song,
“Bei einem Wirte wundermild,” which we beg permission to quote in W.
W. Skeat’s happy translation:--

    “A kind and gentle host was he
      With whom I stayed but now;
    His sign a golden apple was
      That dangled from a bough.

    “Yea! ’t was a goodly apple-tree
      With whom I late did rest;
    With pleasant food and juices fresh
      My parching mouth he blest.

    “There entered in his house so green
      Full many a light-winged guest;
    They gaily frisked and feasted well
      And blithely sang their best.

    “I found a couch for sweet repose
      Of yielding verdure made;
    The host himself, he o’er me spread
      His cool and grateful shade.

    “Then asked I what I had to pay,
      Whereat his head he shook;
    O blest be he for evermore
      From root to topmost nook!”



[Illustration: Zum Goldnen Hirsch Leonberg, Württemberg]



    “Er ging nicht in den Krug,
    Er wohnte gar darinnen.”


Like a prophetic star the sign seems to stand over the birth-house of
many a poet. Or shall we not agree with Chateaubriand who saw in the
eagle on the house in Bread Street, London, where Milton was born, an
“augure et symbole”? And is it not a curious coincidence that the
greatest French comedy-writer was born “à l’enseigne du Pavillon des
Cinges dans la Rue des Étuves Saint-Honoré” in Paris? One of the most
ingenious reconstructions of Robida (the architect of Vieux Paris,
never to be forgotten by any visitor of the Parisian World’s Fair of
1900) was this birthplace of Molière’s that took its name from the
mighty corner-beam, covered with carved monkeys. Truly, Milton had
hoped less from the eagle on his father’s house than from the gentle
star of Venus under which he was born. In his family Bible, one of
the many autograph treasures of the British Museum, he has registered
his birth with his own hand: “John Milton was born the 9th of
December, 1608, die Veneris, half an hour after 6 in the morning.” It
availed him little to be born on the day of Venus, and the promise
given to the “children of Venus” by an old German calendar of 1489,
“They shall sing joyfully and free from care,” was not fulfilled in
his life. His marriage was an unhappy one. Taine said of him: “Ni les
circonstances ni la nature l’avaient fait pour le bonheur.” But the
eagle on the house of his childhood proved to be a true symbol of his
great future, for like an eagle he soared to the highest heights of
poetical creation. Schiller was born in Marbach in the neighboring
house to the “Golden Lion,” whose landlord his grandfather had been.

Considering that all houses in earlier times were distinguished by
such symbols, even the most pious could not help being born under a
sign. Calvin, the French Puritan, was even born in an inn, the “grasse
hôtellerie des Quatre Nations” at Noyen in Picardy. On the other hand,
merry souls seem to have preferred saints as patrons of their
birthplace, for Gavarni, the ingenious cartoonist, came into the world
at Paris “à l’enseigne de Sainte Opportune, Rue des Vieilles

Sometimes Fate seems to mock the highflying ambitions of a great poet,
by changing the house of his birth into a common public-house, as
happened in the case of Chateaubriand, “the gentilhomme né” and his
birthplace in the Rue des Juifs at Saint-Malo. On the other hand,
Rabelais’s birthplace in Chinon, which became a tavern after his
death, should have been one from the first hour of his life; for his
was like the “étrange nativité” of his hero Gargantua: “Soubdain qu’il
fut né, ne cria comme les aultres enfans: ‘Mies, mies’; mais à haulte
voix s’escrioit: ‘À boire, à boire, à boire!’ comme invitant tout le
monde à boire.” A little poem tells us the story how his study was
transformed into a wine-cellar for merry revelers:--

    “Là chacun dit sa chansonette
    Là le plus sage est le plus fou

           *       *       *       *       *

    La cave s’y trouve placée
    Où fut jadis le cabinet,
    On n’y porte plus sa pensée
    Qu’aux douceurs d’un vin frais et net.”

The oldest poetical tradition of tavern signs we find, perhaps, in the
songs of Villon, who sometimes has been called the Paul Verlaine of
the fifteenth century, on account of his similar vicissitudes in life.
A child of the people, he is not ashamed of his low origin:--

    “Sur les tumbeaux de mes ancestres
    Les âmes desquels Dieu embrasse,
    On n’y voyt couronnes ne sceptres.”

Living the life of the common people, he mingles freely with them, and
in his wordly poems many a tavern adventure is told with zest. As a
roaming scholar he wanders from place to place and, having rarely a
penny in his purse, he acquires easily the art of dining without

    “C’est bien trompé, qui rien ne paye,
    Et qui peut vivre d’advantaige,
    Sans débourser or ne monnoye
    En usant de joyeux langaige.”

And although he arrives at the tavern door riding shank’s mare, poor
devil that he is,--

    “Il va à pied, par faulte d’asne,”--

he is rich in fascinating stories to win the landlord’s favors and to
secure ample credit. Full of self-assurance, he demands always the
best of everything, “boire ypocras à jour et à nuyctée” (day and night
to sip Hypokras), one of Falstaff’s various favorite drinks.

Curious sign-names Villon mentions; as, the tin plate,--

    “le cas advint an Plat d’estain,”--

or, the golden mortar (“le mortier d’or”), and even “the pestle.” The
mortar was really a chemist’s sign. To-day, even, we may see, in a
little French provincial town over the door of a druggist, a bear
diligently braying some wholesome herb, in a mortar, an “Ours qui

    “Or advint, environ midy,
    Qu’il estoit de faim estourdy;
    S’en vint à une hostellerie
    Rue de la Mortellerie,
    Où pend l’enseigne du Pestel
    À bon logis et bon hostel;
    Demandant s’en a que repaistre.
    Ouy vraiment, ce dist le maistre,
    Ne soyez de rien en soucy
    Car vous serez très bien servy,
    De pain, de vin et de viande.”

The animal kingdom is represented by the mule, “la Mulle,” an inn
frequented by Rabelais, too, the red donkey (“un asne rouge”), and
the white horse that, like all the painted horses, had the bad habit
of never moving (“le cheval blanc qui ne bouge”). We have seen above
that the “White Horse” was popular in Italy, too, although an old
Italian proverb pretends that it is just as capricious as a beautiful
woman and a source of continual annoyances:--

    “Chi hà cavallo bianco e belle moglie
    Non è mai senza doglie.”

The most famous of all the cabarets immortalized by Villon is “le trou
de la Pomme de Pin,” as he usually calls it. In the “Repues Franches,”
from which we quoted the story of the Hotel du Pestel we read:--

    “Et vint à la Pomme de Pin

           *       *       *       *       *

    Demandant s’ils avoient du bon vin,
    Et qu’on luy emplist du plus fin
    Mais qu’il fust blanc et amoureux.”

We see that our poet-tramp hated adulteraters of wine (“les taverniers
qui brouillent nostre vin”) not less sincerely than his old Roman
colleague Horace. In his older days he regretted the dissipation of
his youth, sadly reflecting upon what a comfortable age he could have
now if ...

    “J’eusse maison et couche molle!
    Mais quoy? je fuyoye l’escolle,
    Comme faict le mauvays enfant....
    En escrivant cette parole
    A peu que le cueur ne me fend.”

The tavern of the “Pomme de Pin” stood near the Madeleine Church--not
the famous one we all know, but an old building in the “cité,” Rue de
la Lanterne, which was pulled down in the time of the Revolution.
Rabelais loved the place and praised this pineapple higher than the
golden apple that young Paris once gave to Venus, thus creating
endless troubles among men and gods:--

    “La Pomme de Pin qui vaut mieux
    Que celle d’or, dont fut troublée
    Toute la divine assemblée.”

Sainte-Beuve has called this tavern, connected with so many proud
names in French literature, “la véritable taverne littéraire, le vrai
cabaret classique,” a title which to-day is deserved by the “Cabaret
du Chat Noir,” the creation of such gifted artists as Henri Rivière,
Willette, and, last but not least, Steinlen, the painter of its sign.

Next in literary celebrity stands “La Croix de Lorraine,” where
Molière used to relax from his strenuous life as poet and actor and
get merry over the blinking glass, “assez pour vers le soir être en
goguettes.” Among the guests ponderous Boileau sometimes appeared,
although he seems to have taken his admonition in the “Art poétique,”
“connaissez la ville,” rather seriously and to have made quite
extensive studies of the Parisian public-houses. We find him in the
“Diable,” who had his quarters in those days very near the Sainte
Chapelle, and in “La Tête Noire,” a counterpart of “The Golden Head”
in Malines where Dürer lodged on his journey through the Netherlands.

It would be amusing to count how many immortal works have been created
over a tavern table. Have we not heard that in our days Mascagni wrote
the incomparable overture to his “Cavalleria Rusticana” on the little
marble table of a modern café? Racine is supposed to have written his
“Plaideurs” on the tavern table of the “Mouton Blanc” in Paris, and
this happy circumstance seems to have affected his style very
agreeably and to have made the play easier for a modern reader than
the solemn dramas which are so difficult to enjoy if one does not
happen to be a Frenchman. How attractive a place this “Mouton Blanc”
was we might imagine from the little rhyme:--

    “Ah! que n’ai-je pour sépulture
    Les Deux Torches ou le Mouton!”

What gifted fathers earned through tavern creations the prodigal sons
sometimes lost again in gambling. Louis Racine spent the little
fortune his father had left him in the “Epée de bois,” the same place
where the comedy-writer Marivaux once gambled away his paternal
heritage, regaining it soon, to be sure, by new and charming
productions. It is mostly the stimulating company of comrades and
fellow-artists, the freedom from petty household cares, that draws the
poet to a quiet tavern corner; but sometimes, too, a charming landlady
is the attractive force which may become so irresistible as to bind
him forever in marriage bonds. Maybe, too, the tavern-bill was growing
so hopelessly big that the poor dreamer saw no other solution. This
was the reason why La Serre married the landlady of the “Trois ponts
d’or,” it being understood that “contrat de mariage valait quittance
alors entre cabaretière et poète,” as Michel-Fournier expresses the

The tender relationship between the landlady and the poet-guest has
given birth to numerous songs, from which we select the famous German
Lied by Rudolf Baumbach:

    “Angethan hat mir’s dein Wein
    Deiner Äuglein heller Schein
    Lindenwirtin, du junge!”

and the not less charming poem of Molière’s successor, Dancourt,
composed in honor of the landlady of the “Cabaret du petit père

    “Si tu veux sans suite et sans bruit
    Noyer tous tes ennuis et boire à ta maîtresse,
    Viens, je sais un réduit
    Inaccessible à la tristesse
    Là nous serons servis de la main d’une hôtesse
    Plus belle que l’astre qui luit,
    Et mêlant au bon vin quelque peu de tendresse,
    Contents du jour, nous attendrons la nuit.”

The classical literary tavern of England was without doubt “The
Mermaid Tavern,” once situated in Bread Street not far from Milton’s
birthplace. Here the famous club, founded by Ben Jonson, in 1603,
assembled, among them the immortal Shakespeare. The fascination of
this mermaid was still in the nineteenth century so great as to
inspire Keats with his charming “Lines on the Mermaid Tavern,” which
we feel inclined to quote in full from Anning Bell’s illustrated
edition, where it stands under a graceful reconstruction of the

    “Souls of Poets dead and gone,
    What Elysium have ye known,
    Happy field or mossy cavern,
    Choicer than the _Mermaid Tavern_?
    Have ye tippled drink more fine
    Than mine host’s Canary wine?
    Or are fruits of Paradise
    Sweeter than those dainty pies
    Of venison? O generous food!
    Drest as though bold Robin Hood
    Would, with his maid Marian,
    Sup and browse from horn and can.

    “I have heard that on a day
    Mine host’s sign-board flew away
    Nobody knew whither, till
    An astrologer’s old quill
    To a sheepskin gave the story,
    Said he saw you in your glory,
    Underneath a new-old sign
    Sipping beverage divine,
    And pledging with contented smack
    The Mermaid in the Zodiak.

    “Souls of Poets dead and gone,
    What Elysium have ye known,
    Happy fields or mossy cavern,
    Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?”

Truly a capricious wind has carried away the old Mermaid sign into far
and unknown regions, and to-day the scholars are disputing where
really the famous house stood.

Two other taverns, less roughly handled by Father Time, may claim to
be next in literary rank: “The Cheshire Cheese” and “The Cock,” both
in Fleet Street. “Ye olde Cheshire Cheese,” or simply “The Cheese,” is
not easy to find because it really stands on a narrow side-lane, the
Wine Office Court. It has the great advantage of having preserved
unchanged the character of a seventeenth-century tavern. Although
venerable, it is not the original building, which was destroyed,
together with many other public-houses in the great fire of 1666.
Pious souls saw in the fact that the conflagration started in Pudding
Lane and ended at Pie Corner an evident proof that the fire was sent
from Heaven as punishment for “the sin of gluttony.” Shakespeare is
said to have turned in not unfrequently at the old house of the
“Cheshire Cheese” on his way to the Blackfriars’ Theatre in the
Playhouse Yard, Ludgate Hill, where he was director for a time, or
coming back for a twilight drink after the performance, which in
those times closed as early as five o’clock. In spite of the warning
fire of 1666 the sin of gluttony is still readily committed in the
“Cheshire Cheese,” whose specialty, a meat pudding,--containing not
only roast beef, kidneys, and oysters, but sky-larks too!--might even
be called a sin against the holy ghost of poetry. Once immersed in
this pudding the divine singers are silent forever without the
consolation of the children’s book:--

    “And when the pie was opened
    The birds began to sing.”

Some of these lark puddings are even shipped to Yankeeland, which
sends every year countless pilgrims to the “Cheshire Cheese.” If
possible, the American father of a family will take the seat of Dr.
Samuel Johnson, the famous lexicographer, lean his head against the
old paneling, which clearly shows the marks of the greasy wigs of the
Doctor and his friend Oliver Goldsmith, and look at chick and child
with an Olympian air, as if he wanted to say: “I am Sir Oracle, and
when I ope my mouth let no dog bark.”

Among the guests and visitors at this “house of antique ease” we find
many famous names beside Johnson and the author of the “Vicar of
Wakefield,” who dwelt in the neighboring house, No. 6, Wine Office
Court; men like Swift, Addison, Sheridan, Pope, even Voltaire, who
must have felt rather out of place in this atmosphere of beefsteak and
ale. Among modern poets Thackeray and Dickens are foremost,--Dickens
who has studied so intimately the taverns and inns of his country.
Under the spell of these souls of poets dead and gone, writers of the
present generation love to gather here in literary clubs, such as the
Johnson Club, which has adopted as its device the Doctor’s classical
definition of the word “club”: “An assembly of good fellows meeting
under certain conditions.” Johnson, who spent almost all his life in
taverns, favored not only “The Cheese” with his presence, but others,
too, as “The Mitre,” in whose dark coffee-room Hawthorne once dined.
This old house has entirely vanished from the ground, just as the
still older inn “The Devil”--who, following his old custom of settling
near a church, had established himself opposite St. Dunstan’s. Thus
we no longer “go to The Devil,” but if we have some serious business
on hand we may step into “Child’s Bank,” which stands exactly on his
former spot.

How important a rôle the waiters played in these old taverns we may
realize from the fact that the portraits of two former head waiters
decorate the walls of “The Cheshire Cheese.” Tennyson has celebrated
another of these dignitaries in a long poem written in the Cock
Tavern, beginning in this classical fashion:--

    “O plump head-waiter at The Cock,
      To which I most resort,
    How goes the time? ’T is five o’clock.
      Go fetch a pint of port;
    But let it not be such as that
      You set before chance-comers,
    But such whose father-grape grew fat
      On Lusitanian summers.”

Dreaming over his glass of wine the poet sees in a sudden vision the
prototype of the cock who once brought the head-waiter as a round
country boy to the city, to the great bewilderment of his church-tower
colleagues who witnessed his audacious flight:--

    “His brothers of the weather stood
      Stock-still for sheer amazement.”

The description of this legendary cock, inspired evidently by the
beautiful work of Gibbon’s master-hand, still to be seen in the modern
Cock Tavern in Fleet Street, might well be called classical, and shall
not be withheld from our readers:--

    “The Cock was of a larger egg
      Than modern poultry drop,
    Stept forward on a firmer leg,
      And cramm’d a plumper crop,
    Upon an ampler dunghill trod,
      Crow’d lustier late and early,
    Sipt wine from silver, praising God,
      And raked in golden barley.”

Everybody who knows and loves the Swabian poet Mörike, the music for
whose songs, composed by Hugo Wolff, have become the property of the
international brotherhood of music-lovers, will think of his “Old
Church-Tower Cock,” strangely similar in feeling to Tennyson’s poem of
“The Cock” and his brothers of the weather.

We are not surprised to find that the poets of the land of Wanderlust
give special attention to taverns and signs. Besides Mörike, and
Uhland, whose “Inn” we quoted above, Johann Peter Hebel, a son of the
Black Forest, has always shown a special predilection for the sign and
its wonders. In an untranslatable poem, “On the death of a tippler,”
he celebrates his man as a diligent astronomer who never tires looking
for shining “Stars,” a brave knight always ready to hunt up “Bears”
and “Lions,” a pious Christian willing to do penitence at the “Cross,”
a man who frequented the best society, including “The Three Kings,”
his most intimate friends.

Germany may boast, too, of a classical literary tavern, the
“Bratwurstglöckle” in Nuremberg, built directly against the walls of a
church, the Gothic Moritz-Kapelle. Among its famous guests were the
Mastersinger, Hans Sachs, and Dürer, Germany’s greatest artist. Like
a house out of a fairy tale it stands before us; we are only surprised
that no fence of sausages surrounds it and that its door and window
shutters are ordinary wood and not gingerbread!



[Illustration: The King of Württemberg Stuttgart]



    “Au-dessus de ma tête, Charles Quint, Joseph II ou Napoléon
    pendus à une vieillie potence en fer et faisant enseigne, grands
    empereurs qui ne sont plus bons qu’à achalander une auberge.”

    VICTOR HUGO, _Le Rhin_.

At the first glance our peaceful sign seems to have nothing to do with
politics whatsoever, except perhaps in so far as under its symbol the
Philistines assemble, not only to drink and be merry, but, as a
side-issue, to solve the world’s problems. The contrast of human
strife and battle outside, somewhere in distant lands, with the
undisturbed comfort of the tap-room has been for ages one of the chief
fascinations of the tavern, and none has described this selfish
attitude of the Philistine more graphically than Goethe in the
conversation of the two citizens in his “Faust”:--

    “On Sundays, holidays, there’s naught I take delight in,
    Like gossiping of war, and war’s array.
    When down in Turkey, far away,
    The foreign people are a-fighting.
    One at the window sits, with glass and friends,
    And sees all sorts of ships go down the river gliding:
    And blesses then, as home he wends
    At night, our times of peace abiding.”

This opinion the other citizen, who reminds us curiously of certain
modern neutrals, approves with the following words:--

    “Yes, Neighbor! that’s my notion too:
    Why, let them break their heads, let loose their passions,
    And mix things madly through and through,
    So, here, we keep our good old fashions!”

This seems about all the political wisdom the tavern sign has to
suggest; but if we investigate more closely the varying forms and
continual changes of the sign we shall discover in its evolution
nothing less than a little history of civilization in pictures. Every
great event in the world’s history finds its echo in some
transformation of the sign, that proves itself a sensitive indicator
for the popular valuation of leading men and important occurrences. In
the eagle-names of the Roman signs we seem to hear the conquering
wings of the Roman eagles soaring over the world, and on the Cymbrian
shield over the cocktavern on the Forum we read the pride of the
victorious Roman soldier.

In our chapter on “Heraldic Signs” we recognized the relationship
between the landlords and the ruling powers. The swinging sign of a
“crown” means the rule of kings, and thankful subjects who enjoy the
peace secured by their monarch and the comfort of settling down in
“The Crown” to a blessed meal. It means good times, efficient
landlords and easy food-supply, if you get such an excellent and
abundant dinner as Heine was offered on his wanderings through the
Harz by the tavern-keeper of “The Crown” in Klausthal: “My repast
consisted of spring-green parsley-soup, violet-blue cabbage, a pile of
roast veal which resembled Chimborazo in miniature and a sort of
smoked herrings, called Bückings from their inventor William Bücking,
who died in 1447, and who, on account of the invention, was so greatly
honored by Charles V that the great monarch in 1556 made a journey
from Middleburg to Bievlied in Zealand for the express purpose of
visiting the grave of the great fishdrier. How exquisitely such dishes
taste when we are familiar with their historical associations!”

[Illustration: Degerloch]

And do not the kings themselves appear on the sign? The “Three Kings”
were originally the “Wise Men” from the East. How the Catholic Church
came to represent them as kings we read in Fischart’s quaint old
German of his amusing “Bienenkorb” of 1580: “Und das sie weiter auss
den treien Weisen aus Morgenland trei König gemacht hat und den eynen
so Bechschwarz als eynen Moren, ist aus den Weissagungen Salomonis
oder Davids gefischet, die da sagen, dass die König aus Morenland
Christum anzubeten kommen werden.” The East, the land of the morn,
was thus confused with the land of the Moors which we should rather
seek to the south of Bethlehem. On “Three Kings’ Day,” of course, the
taverns of this name were scenes of special merriment, the good
Catholics joyfully shouting, “The King drinks.” “The three gentlemen,”
as Carlyle calls them disrespectfully, are buried in the Cologne
Cathedral, but their memory is honored still by many a visitor of a
“Three Kings” tavern in good Rhenish wine which our forefathers called
the theological wine. We find the sign of the famous travelers from
distant lands especially on the great roads of commerce leading from
Italy over the Alps, so in Augsburg and Basle. Originally a royalist
symbol of the landlord’s loyalty to monarchy, of his eagerness to
serve crowned guests if fortune should lead them his way, it was
changed in the times of the Revolution to the democratic “Three
Moors,” and the first landlord who is said to have deprived his three
kings of their crowns was the landlord in Basle. Maybe time helped him
to make this change, slowly wearing away the gilded glitter of the
crowns and darkening the kings to black-a-moors. To-day the famous
house in Augsburg, where Charles V once lodged as guest of the rich
banker Fugger for more than a year, is called “Three Moors.” The
traveler still may see the big fireplace in which the generous
merchant burned all the imperial promissory notes.

But whatever the explanation of this “Three Moors’” sign may be, there
can be no doubt that the Revolution had a noticeable influence on
signs in general. The inn “Zum Rosenkrantz” in Strassburg was called
after 1790 “A la couronne civile,” to please the rationalistic
worshipers of the “Supreme Being,” and countless king-signs were sold
as old iron. Sébastien Mercier, in his “Tableau de Paris,” has given a
merciless report of this great catastrophe which swept away so many of
the signs which we have learned to respect and to love: “Chez les
marchands de ferrailles du quai de la Mégisserie, sont des magazins de
vieilles enseignes, propre à décorer l’entrée de tous les cabarets et
tabagies des faubourgs et de la banlieu de Paris. Là tous les rois de
la terre dorment ensemble: Louis XVI et Georges III se baisent
fraternellement; le roi de Prusse couche avec l’impératrice de
Russie, l’empereur est de niveau avec les électeurs; là enfin la tiare
et le turban se confonde. Un cabaretier arrive, remue avec le pied
toutes ces têtes couronnées, les examine, prend au hasard la figure du
roi de Pologne, l’emporte et écrit dessous: Au grand vainqueur. Un
autre gargotier demande une impératrice; il veut que sa gorge soit
boursouflée, et le peintre, sortant de la taverne voisine, fait
présent d’une gorge rebondie à toutes les princesses d’Europe. Le même
peintre coiffe d’une couronne de laurier une tête de Louis XV lui ôte
sa perruque et sa bourse, et voilà, un César.--Toutes ces figures
royales ont d’étranges physionomies et font éternellement la moue à la
populace qui les regarde. Aucun de ces souverains ne sourit au peuple,
même en peinture; ils out tous l’air hagard ou burlesque, des yeux
éraillés, un nez de travers, une bouche énorme....”

We see those were bad days for kings, even for painted ones. If the
landlord had Jacobin blood in his veins he would not content himself
with such harmless changes as removing the painted crowns. He would
call his tavern no longer “Le Roi Maure,” but forthwith “Le Roi
Mort,” and on the sign the picture of the dead king Louis XVI would
testify to his stanch republicanism. Or he would choose as sign-hero
Brutus the famous regicide. Dickens has introduced us to such a
tavern, “The good Republican Brutus,” in the “Tale of Two Cities,” and
his picture of the place, although in a book of fiction, shows clearly
the colors of historical truth: “It had a quieter look than any other
place of the same description they had passed, and though red with
patriotic caps was not so red as the rest.” The guests were a rather
suspicious-looking crowd. One workman with bare breast and arms reads
aloud the latest terrible news to the rest who listen attentively. All
are armed, some have laid their weapons aside to be resumed, if
needed. In the classical chapter “The Wine-Shop,” where he describes
the hopeless misery of the poor people crowded together in the narrow
streets of the St. Antoine quarter, he sees even in the merchants’
signs symbols of misery or threats of future atrocities: “The
trade-signs (and they were almost as many as the shops) were all grim
illustrations of Want. The butcher and the porkman painted up, only
the leanest scraps of meat, the baker the coarsest of meager loaves.
The people rudely pictured as drinking in the wine-shops croaked over
their scanty measures of thin wine and beer.... Nothing was
represented in a flourishing condition, save tools and weapons; but
the cutler’s knives and axes were sharp and bright, the smith’s
hammers were heavy, and the gunmaker’s stock was murderous.”

It was in a tavern in Varennes that the fate of Louis XVI was sealed.
Here the fugitive king was arrested and forced to go back to Paris to
pay with his blood the debt of sins which his ancestors had
accumulated. “Forty-eight years after the royal coach was stopped in
this town,” says Victor Hugo, “I saw hanging from an old iron bracket
the picture of Louis Philippe with the inscription: ‘Au grand
Monarque.’” Nowhere do we observe quicker changes than in governments
and tavern signs, remarks the German tramp-poet Seume; and Victor Hugo
indulges in similar reflections, passing in review the signs of the
last one hundred years from Louis XV to Bonaparte and Charles X:
“Louis XVI s’est peut-être arrêté au Grand Monarque, et s’est vu là
peint en enseigne, roi en peinture lui-même.--Pauvre ‘Grand
Monarque?’” he exclaims in pathetic pity. This supposition of Hugo’s,
however, is not correct, as we learn from Carlyle, who, scrutinizing
with the prophetic vision of a poet the darkness of the past,
possessed at the same time the exactness and sincerity of a true
historian and who has given us, based on a personal visit to the
locality, the following description of the nocturnal scene: “The
village of Varennes lies dark and slumberous, a most unlevel Village
of inverse saddle-shape, as men write. It sleeps; the rushing of the
River Aire singing lullaby to it. Nevertheless from the Golden Arm,
Bras d’or Tavern across that sloping Marketplace, there still comes
shine of social light....”

Even the American Revolution left its traces on the tavern signs of
the Yankeeland. The old Baptist pastor and Professor of Theology,
Galusha Anderson, who has given us, in his charming book, “When
Neighbors were Neighbors,” in his simple way a kind of social history
of the early United States, mentions signs that he saw in his youth
“where the English red-coats were represented flying before our
revolutionary forefathers.” And Washington Irving has given us, in his
“Rip Van Winkle,” a classical example of the political changes the
signboard had to undergo. When this curious dreamer and unhappy
husband, after many years of mysterious absence, came back to his
native village, nothing perhaps surprised him so much as to find on
the old tavern the strange words, “The Union Hotel, by Jonathan
Doolittle,” and to see even the good old sign strangely altered: “He
recognised on the sign, however, the ruby face of King George, under
which he had smoked so many a peaceful pipe; but even this was
singularly metamorphosed. The red coat was changed for one of blue and
buff, a sword was held instead of a sceptre, the head was decorated
with a cocked hat, and underneath was painted in large characters,
General Washington.” Thus he received from the signboard the necessary
instruction on the great changes that had taken place during his
absence, how his country had developed from an English Colony to a
free Republic.

There are still a few signs in existence that might give us an idea
how such old American signs probably looked. We refer especially to
the “Governor Hancock” sign in the old Boston State House and a couple
of amusing signs in the little historical museum at Lexington.

In its long political career the sign was not spared the humiliation
of being used as gallows. One of the first victims of the French
Revolution was Foulon. He was charged with making the people eat
grass; and now a raging mob forced into his dead mouth the food he had
proposed for others. According to tradition this old sinner was
hanged to a lantern on the corner of the Place de la Grève and the Rue
de la Vannerie. But this is contradicted by such an old Parisian as
Victorien Sardou, who says that Foulon was hanged to a sign which, as
he remembers well from his childhood days, was still to be seen, under
Louis Philippe, although nobody really seemed to give attention to it
in those days of Romanticism.

Another gruesome story we are told by Macaulay, how under James II,
after the defeat of the unhappy Duke of Monmouth, the partisans of the
pretender were suspended from a signpost before a tavern in Taunton by
order of a certain Colonel Percy Kirke. “They were not suffered even
to take leave of their nearest relations. The signpost of the White
Hart Inn served for a gallows. It is said that the work of death went
on in sight of the windows where the officers of the Tangier regiment
were carousing, and that at every health a wretch was turned off. When
the legs of the dying men quivered in the last agony, the colonel
ordered the drums to strike up. He would give the rebels, he said,
music to their dancing. The tradition runs that one of the captives
was not even allowed the indulgence of a speedy death. Twice he was
suspended from the signpost, and twice cut down. Twice he was asked if
he repented of his treason, and twice he replied that if the deed were
to do again, he would do it. Then he was tied up for the last time.”

The Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor Jeffreys, who continued the work
of persecution against the partisans of the Duke of Monmouth,--the man
whose Bloody Assizes will not be easily forgotten in England,--once
nearly paid with his life the foolish desire to climb up on a signpost
in a happy hour of complete intoxication. After a wild orgy in company
with the Lord Treasurer, he and his companion decided to undress until
they were “almost stark naked” and to drink the king’s health from the
airy height of a signpost. Jeffreys took a severe cold and alarmed not
a little the king, who feared the irreparable loss of such a valuable

After the uncanny stories of the signpost’s function as a gallows, we
find a certain comfort in hearing that the sign occasionally offered a
refuge to persecuted political offenders. In the days of the
Corsican, the partisans of the Bourbons, called by the beautiful name
of “Chouans,” were happy to find such a refuge, “une cache fameuse,”
behind the big sign of the perfumer Caron. The persecuted Chouan had
only to step out through a window and to close the blinds behind him
and he was perfectly safe against the detectives of Fouché, the chief
of the police. If the fugitive, however, made a blunder and stepped by
mistake into the barber shop of M. Teissier, he was undone; because
this was the man who had the honor of shaving the Cæsarean face of

Before the French Revolution another great event in the world’s
history had produced considerable changes on the signboard--the
Reformation. We have already noticed how the new ideas and motives of
the Renaissance influenced, not only the sculptured frame of the sign,
but created new forms, such as the Dolphin, the Siren, the Pegasus,
the Sagittary, Fortuna, Apollo, Phœnix, Minerva, Hercules, Castor
and Pollux, Bacchus, all favorite themes of this classical period. The
discovery of America at the same time brought the “Wild Man” into
great popularity, and the newly introduced tobacco, “the filthy weed,”
caused the creation of countless Indian and Huron signs,
“black-a-moors and other dusky foreigners.”

The Reformation itself had a more negative effect on the sign. It
tried to eliminate or to change the old saint signs. Cromwell in
England declaimed against Catholic-sounding tavern names. “St.
Catherine and Wheel” was changed to “Cat and Wheel,” and degenerated
further into “Cat and Fiddle,” a sign still popular in England and
celebrated in the famous children’s rhyme:--

    “Heigh diddle diddle,
    The cat and the fiddle.”

On some signs the fiddling cat inspires with its music a cow to jump
in ecstasy over a grinning moon. Thus we see everywhere the old
religious motives and symbols turned into ridicule and blasphemy. This
process began at the end of the Middle Ages, as the study of
miniatures and of cathedral sculptures will amply prove. We cannot be
surprised, therefore, to find such anti-papal signs as “Le cochon
mitré” in Compiègne. The mediæval illuminators and sculptors loved to
“hommifier” the swine and to attack under this disguise hypocritical
and voluptuous priests. In the “Doctrinal rurale” of Pierre Michault
of 1486 (in the National Library at Paris), we see a fat monk in the
pedagogue’s chair, representing “concupiscence,” and evidently making
such shocking remarks that his girl pupils put their fingers in their
ears, while in the delicate framework of the miniature a preaching
swine reveals the real character of this strange teacher.

The touching scene of the “Salutatio,” which inspired the artists of
the Renaissance with such noble creations as Donatello’s marble relief
in Florence, is degraded now to a ridiculous bowing and scraping
between a lady and her partner or between two stylish gentlemen. The
fanatical Puritans who thundered even against the harmless Christmas
customs, so dear to the people, of course took offense at the use of
the cross for a sign and in 1643 forced the landlord of the “Golden
Cross,” in the Strand, London, to take his “superstitious and
idolatrous” sign down. It is a curious irony of fate that Cromwell,
who to the present day is made responsible for nearly all
destructions in English cathedrals and who probably was an enemy, not
only of Catholic but of all signs, was himself made an object of the

In England more than anywhere else the sign stands for heroes and
hero-worship. Peter the Great and his visit to London were remembered
in “The Czar’s Head”; English admirals and great generals like
Wellington and the Prussian King Frederic, “the great Protestant
hero,” all receive “signboard-honors.” London possessed still in 1881
thirty-seven “Duke of Wellington” taverns.

No less patriotic are the Dutch sign-painters, who love to picture
their own celebrities Rembrandt, Ruysdael, or Erasmus of Rotterdam and
the beloved Princes of Orange. One of them, the future King William
III of England, we find even as a boy on a signboard with the
inimitable Dutch inscription:--

    “God laat hem worden groot
    Bewaar hem voor de doot
            Dat Kleine Manje.”

But other “merkwaardige Personen,” great men of other nations, too,
receive their share of this popular homage: Frederic the Great,
Schiller, Gustavus Adolphus, and even old Cicero. Sometimes the
popularity of a hero passes quickly. The English Admiral Vernon had
hardly received signboard honors when he had to yield his place to
Frederic, the “Glorious Protestant Hero,” as he was called after the
battle of Rossbach. As a rule, a few changes in the costume of the
portrait were considered sufficient by the landlord, who rarely
indulged in the luxury of an entirely new picture for the new hero. To
the English statesman, Horace Walpole, these rapid changes on the
signboard suggested the following melancholy remarks: “I pondered
these things in my breast and said to myself, ‘Surely all glory is but
as a sign!’”

The French people were more loyal to their Bonaparte signs, long after
the beloved emperor had been dethroned. For a long time the
“napoléonisme cabaretier” refused to capitulate, says Carteret. In the
country even serious fights were sometimes caused by the signs of the
Imperialists, who ten years after Waterloo showed still the famous
words, “La garde meurt et ne se rend pas,” or represented the meeting
of Napoleon and Frederic with the inscription, “Le soleil luit pour
tous les héros.” A tavern-keeper near Cannes, where Napoleon landed
on his return from Elba, to reconquer France, honored the memory of
the great man who rested in his inn with the words:--

    “Chez moi c’est reposé Napoléon,
    Venez boire et célèbrer son nom!”

On the other hand, we find the men who delivered their country from
the yoke of the Corsican equally honored in signs; the tavern in which
these great men had rested were for a long time held sacred by the
people. “In Innsbruck, in the ‘Golden Eagle,’” we read in Heine’s
“Reisebilder,” “where Andreas Hofer had lodged, and where every corner
is still filled with his portraits and mementoes, I asked the
landlord, if he knew anything of the ‘Sandwirth.’ Then the old
gentleman boiled over with eloquence....”

To our great astonishment, we find even the idea of an invasion on old
English tavern signs. We know well this fear of invasion is nothing
new with our cousins. “Down the northeast wind the sea-thieves were
always coming. England should always beware of the northeast wind. It
blows her no good,”--that is the lesson the English school-children
already learn in such books as C. R. L. Fletcher’s “History of
England” (Oxford, 1911), to which Rudyard Kipling has contributed most
passionate songs of patriotism. As early as 1753 the English had the
black suspicion that Frederic the Great might land fifteen thousand of
his Spartan Prussian soldiers on their coast, as if he just then had
nothing else to do. Carlyle has refuted these suspicions as
ridiculous: “King Friedrich distinguished himself by the grand human
virtue of keeping well at home--of always minding his own affairs.” In
these days of the Entente Cordiale and its result the World-War, the
south wind, blowing from France, is entirely forgotten, but
nevertheless it is just there that the most serious preparations for
an invasion of England have been made repeatedly. In the year 1756 the
cry resounded: “If France land on us, we are undone”; and in 1759
Admiral Conflans actually attempted to execute the idea with eighteen
thousand men, but the enterprise failed completely, “not on the shores
of Britain, but of Brittany.” Under Napoleon the danger increased, but
after Nelson’s victory of Trafalgar, Napoleon had to abandon his
maritime plans. The regained feeling of security was manifested in
many caricatures mocking Napoleon, among which we have to reckon the
sign “Old Bonaparte.” Using the familiar motive of “The ass in the
bandbox,” the sign-painter represents the French Emperor riding on a
donkey and sailing in a bandbox over the Channel to fight “Perfidious

In this connection we ask permission to tell the story of another
donkey-sign. Joseph II, Emperor of the old German Empire, whom we
might call the “traveling Kaiser” of the eighteenth century, loved to
put up at simple inns; even when he was invited by Frederic the Great,
at their first interview in Neisse, to lodge in the castle, he
preferred the liberty of having his ease at “The Three Kings.” Once,
in Maestricht, he stopped at a hotel called “The Gray Donkey,” and
gave the landlord as proof of his complete satisfaction the privilege
to call his house hereafter “Kaiser Joseph” and to paint on his sign
the equestrian portrait of his noble guest. But the Dutch customers
did not recognize their old tavern under such a glorious name, and the
landlord was finally obliged to put under the imperial picture the
odd words: “The Real Gray Donkey.” Duke Charles of Württemberg, who
knew this fancy of the Emperor, once pleased him enormously by hanging
a big sign, “Hotel de l’Empereur,” out over the portal of his castle
in Stuttgart, himself receiving the imperial visitor in the humble
costume of an obedient landlord.

More serious political events are equally reflected in the history of
the sign. When Richard III lost throne and life at Bosworth in 1485,
the Black Bears, the heraldic animals of his royal escutcheon,
disappeared from the tavern sign and were replaced by the Blue Bear of
the Count of Oxford. It was even a dangerous thing in those days to
play with the seemingly harmless sign. A landlord of a Crown inn, who
once said jokingly that he intended to make his son the heir of the
crown, was accused of high treason and had to suffer death in 1467.
Another sign, still popular in England, “The Royal Oak,” came into
vogue after the restoration of Charles II, because it reminded the
good people of the oak in which the persecuted king had found a
shelter against his enemies. When Charles I’s proud head fell, a day
after his execution, “The Crown” of the poet tavern-keeper Taylor, who
possessed the courage of his conviction, appeared veiled in black.

The sign in mourning occurs again, but this time for a very frivolous
reason. In 1736 the tavern-keepers, disgusted with the “New Act
against spirituous liquors,” covered their signs with “deep mourning”
as symbol of protest. That this law had not been too severe is
evidenced by Hogarth’s engraving “Gin Lane,” published fifteen years
later, where we read over a tavern the disgusting announcement: “Here
gentlemen and others can get drunk for a penny, dead drunk for

Macaulay has pointed out the great importance of public-houses as
political meeting-grounds. Party congresses of the Liberals were held
in the early day in “The Rose,” but in general the Whigs preferred
places that had a punchbowl on their sign, punch being at the end of
the seventeenth century not only a very popular beverage, but
decidedly a “Whig drink,” while the Tories drank mostly--_noblesse
oblige_--wine or champagne. We find the punchbowl either alone or in
more or less logical combinations, as “Ship and Punchbowl,” “Parrot
and Punchbowl,” “Half-Moon and Punchbowl,” and the like.

An old American sign, “The Federal Punch,” is evidently a revised
edition of the Whig sign of the mother country. The business of
imbibing the party drink was not forgotten in these political
meetings. In fact, the Tories attended to it one time so thoroughly in
their Apollo Tavern in Fleet Street that they were unable to execute
their own decision to go “in a body” to King William to present him an
address of thanks. “They were induced to forego their intention; and
not without cause: for a great crowd of squires after a revel, at
which doubtless neither October nor claret had been spared, might have
caused some inconvenience in the present chamber.” Finally they
decided to send as their representative an elderly country gentleman
who was, for a wonder, still sober.

Beside these respectable meeting-places of the two great parties there
were “treason taverns,” suspicious ale-houses, where plotters and
hired murderers, not without the encouragement of the exiled king
James II, forged their black plans against the life of William, the
Prince of Orange. One of these places had the fitting name “The Dog”
in Drury Lane, “a tavern which was frequented by lawless and desperate


We will end our enumeration of politically important taverns with the
“Cadran Bleu” in Paris, where the Marseillais were greeted by the
Parisians after they had completed their long journey across the whole
of France, singing for the first time the famous song of the
Revolution: “Marchez, abattez le tyran.” “Patriot clasps dusty
patriot to his bosom, there is footwashing and reflection: dinner of
twelve hundred covers at the Blue Dial, Cadran Bleu.”

To the present day the right to assemble freely in the tavern, “this
temple of true liberty,” is suspiciously guarded by all parties. To
the present day the tavern serves all kinds of political and social
clubs and sometimes even burial societies similar to those of which
Washington Irving has told us such amusing stories, as “The Swan and
Horseshoe” and “Cock and Crown,” once flourishing in the heart of
London, in Little Britain.



[Illustration: Zur Post Bietigheim, Württemberg]



    “Ici toute liberté, Monsieur, comme si nous étions au cabaret.”


There is a surprising parallelism between the fathers of these two
greatest men of the eighteenth century. These fathers, whom
narrow-minded critics usually call pedants, transmitted to their sons
the great gift of “life’s serious conduct.” Rarely has the old
Councillor Goethe found so much just appreciation as Carlyle has shown
for Frederic William I. The character of both the sons constitutes a
happy combination of this serious paternal heritage and the joyful
element of sanguine optimism. Both, although they owe perhaps most to
their fathers, feel themselves drawn to the softer natures of their
mothers, who hardly ever refused them any wish. And most of us prefer
to share with them the love of their charming mothers, Frau Rath and
Sophie Dorothea,--because it is always more agreeable to be loved
than to be educated,--and reserve for the fathers at best a cool

Travel for pleasure or sport was unknown to the old Spartan King of
Prussia, as indeed it was to his greater son, who did not even
appreciate the sport of hunting. When they traveled it was for the
inspection of the administration of their country or to review their
troops. Old Frederic William, in his great simplicity, preferred even
to pass the night in airy barns than to sleep in stuffy rooms.
“Dinner-table to be spread always in some airy place, garden-house,
tent, big clean barn,--Majesty likes air, of all things;--will sleep
too, in a clean barn or garden-house: better anything than being
stifled, thinks his Majesty.” We never hear that he stopped at inns,
and Frederic, too, we meet only rarely in taverns, once in
Braunschweig in Korn’s Hotel, where he was received one night in the
Freemasons’ lodge very secretly because his severe papa despised such
childish fooleries utterly. Occasionally, perhaps, while in Potsdam he
visits inns like “The Three Crowns,” where one could find better food,
he says, than at the table of his Mecklenburg cousins in their castle
Mirow. In the first year of his reign, when he traveled _incognito_
to French Alsace, he had very distressing experiences in different
taverns. In a letter to Voltaire he describes in French verses the
various accidents of this trip:--

    “Avec de coursiers efflanqués
    En ligne droite issus de Rosinante,
    Et des paysans en postillons masqués,
    Butors de race impertinente,
    Notre carosse en cent lieux accroché,
    Nous allions gravement, d’une allure indolente,
    Gravitant contre les rochers.”

Traveling all day in the worst of weathers, as if the last day of
judgment had come, and in the evening to get a poor meal in a
miserable tavern--and a large bill:--

    “Car des hôtes intéressés
    De la faim nous voyant pressés,
    D’une façon plus que frugale
    Dans une chaumière infernale
    En nous empoisonnant, nous volaient nos écus.
    O siècle différent des temps de Lucullus!”

The landlord of the “Post” in Kehl demands passes from Frederic and
his companions, and Frederic fabricates them himself with his Prussian
seal. Again in Strassburg they present the same passes to the custom
officials, not without adding a gold coin:--

    “L’or, plus dieu que Mars et l’Amour,
    Le même or sut nous introduire,
    Le soir, dans les murs de Strassbourg.”

Here they stop at “The Raven,” where Frederic immediately began to
study the French people. His judgment is not very flattering, although
he communicates it to his French friend:--

    “Non, des vils Français vous n’êtes pas du nombre,
    Vous pensez, ils ne pensent point.”

In the evening he invites even French officers to dine with him and
the following morning goes to a military review. Here one of his own
soldiers, a Prussian deserter, “un malheureux pendard,” recognizes
him; he quickly hurries back to “The Raven,” pays his bill, and leaves
Strassburg, never to see it again.

Like the old king, Frederic preferred to stop in rectories when
traveling through the Prussian lands, but sometimes was prevented from
doing so by his very faithful but very independent coachman Pfund. If
the pastor had forgotten to give this important person his due tip on
the last visit, Pfund would surely cut him on future occasions, and
force his old master to go on to the next town, where he was sure to
find a host of better manners. This sin of omission was rarely
committed by pastors who received the honor of a royal visit, because
they could very well afford to humor old Pfund a little, when they
themselves received from the otherwise economical king the handsome
“royalty” of fifty dollars for a dinner and one hundred dollars for
dinner and a night’s lodging. General von der Marwitz has told us the
story of how Pfund once opposed the king, who was tired and wanted to
stop in the rectory of Dolgelin, by saying the sun was not yet down
and they could well reach the next town, and how the old king
patiently submitted to the will of his Automedon. But there is a limit
even to the patience of old kings, and on one occasion, when Pfund
went too far in his rudeness, Frederic rebelled, and, to teach his
coachman morals, ordered him forthwith to cart manure and fagots with
a team of donkeys. After a year the king happened to meet him, busily
engaged in his new and modest occupation, and kindly inquired: “How
d’ye do?” The coachman’s classic answer August Kopisch has celebrated
in a song which we venture to translate:--

    “‘Well, if I can drive,’ says Pound,
    On his box quite firm and round,
            ‘I do not care
            How I fare,
    If with horses or with asses, carting
    Fagots or His Majesty the King.’

    “Then old Frederic, taking snuff,
    Looked at Pound and told the rough:
            ‘Well, if you don’t care
            How you really fare,
    If with horses or with asses, logs or kings you cart,
    Quick unload, drive ME again, and take a start!’”

Goethe’s father, although himself the son of a landlord, disliked inns
and public-houses very keenly, as we read in Goethe’s autobiography,
“Dichtung und Wahrheit”: “This feeling had rooted itself firmly in him
on his travels through Italy, France, and Germany. Although he seldom
spoke in images, and only called them to his aid when he was very
cheerful, yet he used often to repeat that he always fancied he saw a
great cobweb spun across the gate of an inn, so ingeniously that the
insects could indeed fly in but that even the privileged wasps could
not fly out again unplucked. It seemed to him something horrible, that
one should be obliged to pay immoderately for renouncing one’s habits
and all that was dear to one in life and living after the manner of
publicans and waiters. He praised the hospitality of the olden time,
and reluctantly as he otherwise endured even anything unusual in the
house, he yet practiced hospitality....” This excessive aversion to
all inns the great son inherited from his father, although he admitted
it was a weakness. We are therefore not surprised to see the student
Goethe, when he for the first time traveled full of longing to Dresden
in the yellow coach, lodge in the modest quarters of a philosophical
cobbler, whose home seemed to him as romantic and picturesque as an
old Dutch painting. Perhaps it was the memory of this interior that
inspired Goethe later, when he was called “Doktor Wolf” by his proud
mother, to arrange in “The Star” at Weimar, in honor of the Duchess
Anna Amalie, a “festivity in clair-obscure” with the distinct purpose
of creating a Rembrandt scene.

But before we wander in the far world with the student and doctor, let
us take a stroll through the Frankfurt of his childhood and admire the
many signs that still decorated, not inns alone, but also, houses of
private citizens. The “Goldene Wage,” situated on the Domplatz and
built in 1625, as well as the “Grosse Engel,” opposite the Römer, are
still standing, and are filled to-day with the treasures of art-loving
antiquarians. Recollections of his childhood passed through Goethe’s
mind when he described in “Hermann und Dorothea” the pharmacy “Zum
Engel,” near the “Golden Lion” on the market-place, and the old
bachelor chemist who was too stingy to regild his angel-sign:--

    “Who now-a-days can afford to pay for the numerous workmen?
    Lately I thought to have new-gilt the figure which stands as my
    The Archangel Michael with horrible dragon around his feet
    But as they are I have left them all dingy, for fear of the

The father of some boy friends of Goethe’s, a Herr von Senckenberg,
“lived at the corner of Hare Street, which took its name from a sign
on the house that represented one hare at least if not three hares.”
Von Senckenberg’s three sons were consequently called the “three
hares,” which nickname they could not shake off for a long while.

[Illustration: AVX TROIS LAPINS]

It was in the “Golden Lion” at Frankfurt that Voltaire was arrested
and interned on his word of honor until his luggage containing the
stolen “Œuvre de Poésies” of Frederic the Great should arrive. In
these poems the king had ridiculed several crowned heads, and it was
of the utmost importance for him to get them back before the
revengeful Frenchman could make use of them against him. But for some
reason or other the trunks did not arrive, and Voltaire, losing
patience and “without warning anybody, privately revoked said word of
honor” and tried to escape, an attempt that failed and ended in a
tragic-comic fashion. Father Goethe, who loved to tell this story to
his children as a warning example never to seek the favors of princes,
does not agree here with Carlyle in the name of the tavern, but says
it was “The Rose” in which “this extraordinary poet and writer was
held as a prisoner for a considerable time.” When the fugitive was
brought back, the landlord of the tavern refused to take him in again,
and the “Bock” became for the rest of the time his involuntary

In spite of this bad example and his father’s distinct warnings,
Goethe in 1778 accepted the invitation of the Duke of Weimar to the
“Römische Kaiser” in Frankfurt, where he was “joyfully and graciously”
received, and where definite arrangements were made for his removal to

After the death of Goethe’s father, Mutter Aja sold the old homestead
on the Hirschgraben and took a flat in the “Goldenen Brunnen” on the
Rossmarket, where the golden fountain of her good humor continued to
flow for all her friends, but where she no longer had such facilities
for entertaining guests as in the roomy house of old. When, therefore,
her daughter-in-law and her grandson, the “liebe Augst,” came to
visit her, she ordered rooms for them in “The Swan.” Her apartment in
the “Golden Fountain” we know from her own lively description in a
letter to her son, who visited her here several times before her death
in 1808.

Let us now accompany the student Goethe to Strassburg and pay a visit
to the inn “Zum Geist,” where his friendship with Herder, so important
for his future development, was formed. “I visited Herder morning and
evening, I even remained whole days with him ... and daily learned to
appreciate his beautiful and great qualities, his extensive knowledge,
and his profound views.” In Leipzig, the next university where Goethe
studied, he lived in a house, between the old and the new market,
which was called after its sign “Die Feuerkugel.” One of the first
calls he made was to the literary dictator Gottsched, who “lived very
respectably in the first story of the ‘Golden Bear,’ where the elder
Breitkopf, on account of the great advantage which Gottsched’s
writings had brought to the trade, had assured him a lodging for
life.” This Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf was the inventor of music
printing and the founder of the famous publishing firm of to-day. His
house, the “Golden Bear,” number 11 Universitätsstrasse, is to-day the
home of the Royal Saxon Institute for universal history and the
history of civilization, founded by the distinguished historian
Lamprecht. In Goethe’s day Breitkopf’s son built a great new house
opposite the “Golden Bear” which was called “Zum Silbernen Bären.”

A very popular sign in those days, in Germany, and especially in the
neighborhood of Frankfurt, was the pentacle. Goethe calls it simply
the beer-sign in his autobiography, where he tells us a charming story
based on an ingenious and humorous interpretation of the two triangles
which compose the sign. While still living as a young lawyer in Mutter
Aja’s house, he entertained two distinguished visitors, the famous
Lavater and the educational reformer Basedow. To amuse them he
arranged carriage drives in the pleasant country around his native
town. We see the young fire-brand sitting between these two dignified

    “The prophets sat on either side,
    The world-child sat between them.”

On one of these excursions Basedow had offended the pious and
sweet-tempered Lavater by his cynical remarks about the Trinity and so
spoiled the pleasant atmosphere of good comradeship. Goethe punished
him in the following humorous manner. “The weather was warm and the
tobacco smoke had perhaps contributed to the dryness of Basedow’s
palate; he was dying for a glass of beer. Seeing a tavern at a
distance on the road he eagerly ordered the coachman to stop there.”
But Goethe urged him to go on without seeming to mind the furious
protest of the thirsty Basedow, whom he simply calmed with the words:
“Father, be quiet, you ought to thank me! Luckily you didn’t see the
beer-sign! It was two triangles put together across each other. Now,
you commonly get mad about one triangle, and if you had set your eye
on two we should have had to put you in a strait-jacket.”

On his first journey to Switzerland, in company with the Stollbergs,
he stayed at the hotel “Zum Schwert,” which is still standing. “The
view of the lake of Zürich which we enjoyed from the Gate of the Sword
is still before me.” On the Rigi they lodged in the “Ochsen,” and
here from the window of his room, he sketched one Sunday morning the
chapel of the “Madonna in the Snow.” In the evening they sat before
the tavern door, under the sign, and enjoyed the music of the gurgling
fountain and a substantial meal consisting of baked fish, eggs, and
“sufficient” wine. On his second trip to Switzerland in 1779-80 we
meet him, together with his noble friend the Duke of Weimar, in “The
Eagle” at Constance, where Montaigne had lodged more than two hundred
years before.

We could mention many other hospitable thresholds which the great
genius crossed: “The Red Cock” in Nuremberg, now an elegant building
that reminds us little of the ancient low house with its large gate;
or the “Hotel Victoria” in Venice, whose owner recalls to the modern
traveler Goethe’s visit in a proud memorial tablet. “I lodged well in
the ‘Königin von England,’ not far from the market-place, the greatest
advantage of the inn.” But if he could find private quarters he
preferred them to public-houses; so in Rome, where he was very glad to
be received in the home of the painter Tischbein.

There is sufficient evidence that Goethe took an artistic interest in
signs, since he invented one himself for his puppet play “Hanswurst’s
Hochzeit,” where we read the bewitching rhyme:--

    “The wedding-feast is at the house
    Of mine host of the Golden Louse.”

In “Truth and Poetry” he has given us the scheme of the play, which
was never really executed. Like a born stage manager, he proposed a
kind of turning stage: “The tavern with its glittering insignia was
placed so that all its four sides could be presented to view by being
turned upon a peg.” This patent idea of a turning inn showing its
golden sign and its door open to travelers from the four quarters of
the globe, might please the modern landlord too, even if he did not
care exactly for the super-sign of a “Golden Louse,” “magnified by the



[Illustration: Lamb and Flag East Bath, England]



    “Freedom I love, and form I hate
    And choose my lodgings at an inn.”


We cannot resist the temptation to quote as an introduction the
_ipsissima verba_ of England’s classical historian Macaulay on the
evolution of public hospitality in his country. Most naturally the
evolution of the sign runs parallel to the evolution of the tavern,
and in a time of flourishing inns we may expect to find highly
developed tavern signs. “From a very early period,” says Macaulay, in
a chapter on the social condition of England in 1685, “the inns of
England had been renowned. Our first great poet had described the
excellent accommodation which they afforded to the pilgrims of the
fourteenth century. Nine and twenty persons, with their horses, found
room in the wide chambers and stables of the Tabard in Southwark. The
food was of the best, and the wines such as drew the company on to
drink largely. Two hundred years later, under the reign of Elizabeth,
William Harrison gave a lively description of the plenty and comfort
of the great hostelries. The continent of Europe, he said, could show
nothing like them. There were some in which two or three hundred
people could without difficulty be lodged and fed. The bedding, the
tapestry above all, the abundance of clean and fine linen was a matter
of wonder. Valuable plate was often set on the tables. Nay, there were
signs which had cost thirty or forty pounds. In the seventeenth
century England abounded with excellent inns of every rank. The
travelers sometimes, in a small village, lighted on a public-house
such as Walton has described, where the brick floor was swept clean,
where the walls were stuck round with ballads, where the sheets
smelled of lavender, and where a blazing fire, a cup of good ale, and
a dish of trout fresh from the neighboring brook, were to be procured
at small charge. At the larger houses of entertainment were to be
found beds hung with silk, choice cookery, and claret equal to the
best which was drunk in London.”

A sign that costs one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars
would be, even in our days of high-paid labor, a thing worth looking
at. In the times of the Renaissance it certainly was a work of
excellent craftsmanship, sculptured in wood and richly gilded. On an
extensive tour through England which brought us to the charming
western fishing-village of Clovelly, with its “New Inn” and the more
romantic “Red Lion” down by the little harbor, and to Chester, in the
north, founded by the Romans, we were disappointed to find so few old
signs of artistic value. We found very few carved in wood like “The
Blue Boar” in Lincoln or “The Swan” in Wells, from whose windows the
beautiful western façade of the cathedral, unusually rich in
sculptures, is seen through the green veil of huge old trees. This
swan sign shows certain characteristics of the period of the First
Empire, and surely does not date back beyond 1800. Also the famous
“Four Swans” in the little town of Waltham Cross, north of London,
perhaps the only existing example of an old English custom to
construct the sign like a triumphant arch across the street, are not
so old as the tavern, which a bold inscription dates in the year
1260. How could a sign delicately carved in wood resist the inclemency
of the weather, when the stone sculptures of the cathedrals,--as in
Exeter, for instance, or in Salisbury,--although leaning against the
protecting walls of these gigantic structures, suffered so much? To
please the lovers of antiquity some owners of old houses put the most
arbitrary dates of their foundation on the neatly-painted fronts. In
the street in Chester that leads down to “The Bear and Billet,” one of
England’s oldest frame houses, we saw the date 1006 painted on a
façade, evidently built in Renaissance times. Other burghers and
house-owners who have more respect for exact historic truth, see, of
course, in such misleading inscriptions an unfair competition.

[Illustration: THE·SWAN·IN·WELLS·]

[Illustration: Ye Olde Four Swans·in Waltham Cross·England·1260·]

Signs wrought in iron seem to have been rare in England, the art of
forging being less developed there than in the south of Germany.
Curiously enough the South-Kensington Museum in London, an enormous
storehouse of old works of arts and crafts, contains not a single
English sign, but a very beautifully forged iron sign from Germany,
dated 1635,--a baker’s sign, as the great crown and the heraldic lions
reveal to us. A friendly assistant at the Museum showed us another
German sign dating from the end of the seventeenth century, charmingly
carved and gilded, representing the workshop of a shoemaker. These two
were the only signs that the Museum possessed.

The old London signs have all found a very dismal refuge in the dimly
lighted cellar of the Guild Hall. Some of them are stone sculptures of
considerable size like the giant sign “Bull and Mouth.” Here too we
find certain technical curiosities, as, “The Dolphin” of 1730 painted
on copper, and more unusual still, “The Cock and Bottle,” a neat and
dainty design composed of blue-and-white Dutch tiles. The foggy and
damp climate has often injured not only the carved woodwork of the
signboard, but still more the painting on it. The beam on which it
hangs might be very old; the painting itself is always of recent date
even if the artist, following an old tradition, sometimes produces
quaint effects. As an example of how quickly the work of the
sign-painter darkens beyond recognition, we may cite “The Falstaff” in
Canterbury. It was not a year since the landlady had hung out this
picture of the blustering knight in a bold fencing-pose that we saw it
last, and it was already very difficult to distinguish the details of
the composition; while another painting--the immediate predecessor of
the sign in the street--which the friendly Dame showed us on the
staircase was as black and bare as a slate. Sometimes the frames of
the pictures are carved and allow us to guess the date of their
origin; but, as a rule, the perfectly plain signboard hangs out on a
strong beam. A typical example is “The Falcon” in Stratford-on-Avon.

The higher the artistic value of the painting on the signboards was,
the more we have to regret that so much art was wasted on such a
perishable production. In the eighteenth century the coach-painters,
whose craftsmanship on old equipages, sledges, and sedan-chairs we
still admire in many a museum, used to produce most elegant signs and
received for their work astonishingly high prices. Shaken by winds,
whipped by rainstorms, their beauty was soon gone. Nowhere have we
found them either in collections or in the light of the street. Only
in literary tradition does there still live a part of the charm of all
these burned and weather-killed things of beauty.

But one device we discovered in England to restore the old forms,
namely, the so-called club signs. Just as the printer’s marks often
reproduce _en miniature_ the sign of the publisher, so the club signs
give a reduced picture of the old tavern signs, especially of those
that were cut as silhouettes in metal plates. The very first printers
of the fifteenth century loved to introduce into their books these
little designs symbolizing their names. Peter Drach in Speyer used two
little shields, one containing a winged dragon and the other, as a
friendly compensation, a Christmas tree and two stars. Johannes
Sensenschmied, a proud “civis Nurembergensis,” had two crossed scythes
(_Sensen_) in his escutcheon. These same designs appear later on the
front page of a volume, neatly engraved on copper, often reproducing
the sign of the bookshop to which one had to go if one wanted to buy
this particular book. A Parisian publisher adopted “La Samaritaine,”
which to-day has become the name of a great department store. Mr.
Léonard Plaignard, of Lyon, called his shop “Au grand Hercule,” and
put the Greek hero on the front page of his books with the
inscription: “Virtus non territa monstris.” Just as these little
engravings may give us an idea of the old publishers’ signs, so we may
gain from the club signs some suggestions as to how the old signboards

On Whitsunday the club members used to fasten these small brass
imitations of their beloved tavern sign to poles and carry them in
solemn procession through the astonished town. At the end of the club
walking, it is whispered, many were unable to hold the poles as
straight as they wished. The museum of the quiet little town of
Taunton possesses a remarkable series of such club signs. It has
become quite a fad in England to collect these little polished brass
figures, since the public has got tired of the warming-pan craze.

Morris dancers sometimes joined in the club processions, among them
the green or wild man, Robin Hood, famous in song and story; they
amused the crowd with such charming airs as as--

    “‘O, my Billy, my constant Billy,
    When shall I see my Billy again?’
    ‘When the fishes fly over the mountain,
    Then you’ll see your Billy again.’”


Our design of two gentlemen saluting each other politely is such a
club sign, reproducing in miniature the sign of the “Salutation Inn”
in Mangotsfield, and representing the last link in the chain of
salutation signs, which began with the old religious scene of Mary
saluted by the angel.

Price Collier, in his book “England and the English,” has dedicated a
whole chapter to English sport, on which the nation spends every year
$223,888,725, more than the cost of her entire military machine, navy
and army together. On fox hunting alone she spends $43,790,000. This
love of sport is an old English trait, shared by both sexes. One of
the first books printed in England was a book on sport, “The Bokys of
Haukyng and Huntyng,” supposed to be written by a lady, Juliana
Berners, the prioress of the nunnery of Sopwell, and published for
the first time in the new black art in 1486. A schoolmaster of the
abbey school of St. Albans had arranged the edition, and it is
therefore sometimes quoted as “The Book of St. Albans.” No wonder,
then, that such a popular subject was readily chosen by the sign
painters, and that they love to picture the hunted animals, the white
hart and the fox, and not less often the faithful companions of the
hunter, dog and horse, hawk and falcon.


A great rôle is played by the horse, not only as the heraldic animal
in the coat of arms of the Saxons and of the House of Hanover, but the
real beast, from the good old pack-horse to the lithe-limbed racer. In
the early Middle Ages, when the roads were so bad that it was
impossible for heavy wagons to travel on them, the pack-horse was the
only medium for the transportation of goods, post-packages, and mail.
Those were hard days for impatient lovers, who would have preferred to
send their _billets-doux_ in Shakespearean fashion, “making the wind
my post-horse.” Sometimes the horse’s burden, the wool-pack--the wool
business being the chief trade in England in the twelfth
century--appears on the signboard. In fact, in the time of Ben Jonson
“The Woolpack” was one of the leading hostelries of London.

Another sign is the race-horse, celebrated by Shakespeare in such
lines as:--

    “And I have horse will follow where the game
    Makes way, and run like swallows o’er the plain.”

from “Titus Andronicus” (II, ii), or those other lines in “Pericles”
(II, i):--

    “Upon a courser, whose delightful steps
    Shall make the gazer joy to see him tread.”

In the reign of Henry VIII, a tavern called “The Running Horses”
existed in Leatherhead, a place not exactly fitted for noble hunters,
since a contemporary poet complains about the beer being served there
“in rather disgusting conditions.” Not infrequently we find more or
less happy portraits of famous race-horses, such as “The Flying
Dutchman” and “Bee’s Wing”; sometimes even a hound was honored in this
way, guarding the entrance of a tavern as his famous Roman colleague,
pictured in mosaic, did in the days of antiquity. “The Blue Cap” in
Sandiway (Cheshire) was such a sign.

In Chaucer’s time it was a popular fashion to decorate the horses with
little bells, as we may infer from the Abbot’s Tale:--

    “When he rode men his bridle hear,
    Gingling in a whistling wind as clere,
    And eke as loud as doth a chapel bell.”

Curiously enough, these bells, sometimes of silver and gold, are
designated in old manuscripts by the Italian word _campane_, as if
this custom had been adopted by the English gentry from Italy. The
“gentyll horse” of the Duke of Northumberland, the old documents would
tell us, was decorated with “campane of silver and gylt.” Most
naturally such valuable bells were very welcome as prizes in the
sporting world; in Chester, for instance, the great prize of the
annual race on St. George’s Day consisted of a beautiful golden bell
richly adorned with the royal escutcheon. But independent of this
custom the bell has always been very popular in England. The great
German musician Händel has even called it the national musical
instrument, because nowhere else, perhaps, do the people delight so
much in the chimes of their churches. We find it, therefore,
everywhere on the tavern sign, sometimes in absurd combinations like
“Bell and Candlestick” or “Bell and Lion”; very prettily in connection
with a wild man, “Bell Savage,” which is changed under gallant French
influence into “Belle Sauvage,” or even “La Belle Sauvage.” “Cock and
Bell” points again to a popular sport, the cock-fight. Like the little
slant-eyed Japanese, the small boys of Old England loved to watch this
exciting game; on Lent-Tuesday special cock-fights were arranged for
them, and the happy little owner of the victorious animal was
presented with a tiny silver bell to wear on his cap. No wonder that
“The Fighting Cocks” themselves appear on the signboard. We find them
on taverns in Italy, too, where the popularity of this sport goes back
to the Roman days. The Bluebeard King Henry VIII issued an order
prohibiting all cock-fights among his subjects, all the while
establishing for himself a cockpit in White Hall as a royal
prerogative. In the days of Queen Victoria the rather cruel sport was
definitely abolished.

Another not less cruel sport still lives in the tavern sign “Dog and
Duck.” The birds were put into a small pond and chased by dogs.
Watching the frightened creatures dive to escape their pursuers
constituted the chief joy of the performance. We may still hear the
wild cries of the spectators urging on the dogs, when we read the old

    “Ho, ho, to Islington; enough!
    Fetch Job my son, and our dog Ruffe!
    For there in Pond, through mire and muck,
    We’ll cry: hay Duck, there Ruffe, hay Duck!”

An old stone sign of such a “Dog and Duck” tavern, dated 1617, can
still be seen in London outside of the Bethlehem Hospital in St.
George’s Field. The popular name of this lunatic asylum is
Bedlam--favorite word of Carlyle to designate confusion and chaos.

Here in South London special arenas were built for the spectacle of
bear-baiting, and it is no chance that as early as in the time of
Richard III the most popular tavern of this quarter was called “The
Bear.” It stood near London Bridge, and was frequented especially by
aristocratic revelers. In these scenes of rough amusements for the
people the muse of Shakespeare introduced the gentle dramatic arts.
Here his “Henry V” was introduced for the first time, perhaps, with
its solemn chorus: “Can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France?”

Still more than these artificial and butchery sports of the citizen,
the real joys of the hunter found their echo in the productions of the
sign-painters. There is hardly an English town without a “White Hart
Inn.” Since the days of Alexander the Great, who once caught a
beautiful white hart and decorated his slender neck with a golden
ring, since Charlemagne and Henry the Lion, the white hart has been a
special favorite of the hunter, whose joys no poet perhaps has sung so
charmingly as Shakespeare in these lines of “Titus Andronicus” (II, ii
and iii):--

    “The hunt is up, the morn is bright and grey,
    The fields are fragrant, and the woods are green:
    Uncouple here

           *       *       *       *       *

    The birds chaunt melody on every bush;
    The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun;
    The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind,
    And make a chequer’d shadow on the ground:
    Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,
    And--whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,
    Replying shrilly to the well-tun’d horns,
    As if a double hunt were heard at once once--
    Let us sit down....”

Another group of signs celebrates Master Reynard. We see him harassed
by dogs and riders on the sign “Fox and Hounds” in Barley
(Hertfordshire). We miss only the sportive ladies who dip their
kerchiefs of lace in the poor devil’s blood to show that they, too,
were in at the finish. This sign, by the way, was used long centuries
ago, since we hear of a “Fox and Hounds Inn” in Putney that claims to
be over three hundred years old.

The German Nimrod took no less pleasure than his English cousin in
seeing a hunter’s sign on the tavern door, as is amply proved by the
many golden harts, flying in great bounds, or our George sign from
Degerloch, daintily wrought in iron. The German poets, too, sang many
a song celebrating the adventures of the chase.


Not so often do we find on the Continent the so-called “punning sign,”
which might well be called an English specialty, since England’s
greatest poet used to indulge a great deal in punning,--“mistaking the
word” as he calls it. In a dialogue full of quibbles in the “Two
Gentlemen of Verona” he admits himself that it is a weakness to yield
to it:--

    “_Speed._   How now, Signior Launce? What news with your

     “_Launce._ With my master’s ship? Why, it is at sea.

     “_Speed._  Well, your old vice still: mistake the word.
                What news then in your paper?

     “_Launce._ The blackest news that ever thou heard’st.

     “_Speed._  Why, man, how black?

     “_Launce._ Why, as black as ink.”

And thus he goes on against his better judgment and “the old vice”
triumphs, not only here, but in nearly all his plays. Following the
illustrious example of the great poet the English landlord puts all
kinds of puns and puzzles on his signs, and the private citizen of
simple birth and aristocratic ambitions created for himself the most
ridiculous escutcheons by childish plays upon his own name. Thus, Mr.
Haton would put a hat and a tun in his coat of arms and Mr. Luton a
lute and a tun without giving a thought to etymology. Likewise the
landlord’s name would account for such curious signs as “Hand and
Cock,” which was simply the punning sign of a certain John Hancock in

Diligent authors like Frederic Naab--who, together with Thormanby,
made a special study of sign puzzles--are indefatigable in searching
out the deep meaning of all these tavern sign absurdities. “The Pig
and Whistle” alone has been explained in twelve different ways. We
mentioned above how “The Cat and Fiddle” was a mutilation of the old
religious sign of “Catherine and Wheel.” In similar fashion the
noble-sounding “Bacchanals” were degraded to a common “Bag of Nails.”

Topers and tipplers, whose forte was certainly not orthography, loved
to confuse “bear” and “beer,” words that might very well sound alike
when pronounced by beery voices. A certain Thomas Dawson in Leeds, who
evidently sold a rather heavy beer, warned his customers on his sign:
“Beware of ye Beare.” Lovers of cards invented the amusing distortion
of “Pique and Carreau” into “The Pig and Carrot.” The popular
political sign of “The Four Alls,” representing a King (“I rule all”),
a Priest (“I pray for all”), a Soldier (“I fight for all”), and John
Bull as farmer (“I pay for all”), was changed into “Four Awls,” a sign
which presented infinitely less difficulties to a painter of few
resources. Sometimes the Devil is added as fifth figure saying, “I
take all.”

Cromwell’s soldiers once took offense at the sign of a tavern where
they were obliged to put up for the night. They took it down and in
its place wrote over the door the words, “God encompasses us.” The
next day, when they were gone, the landlord had the brilliant idea to
change the pious words to the punning sign, “Goat and compasses.”
Maybe, too, the compasses were a commercial trade-mark, as we see them
still to-day on boxes and casks.

Very popular was the joking sign, “The Labor in Vain,” representing a
woman occupied in the hopeless task of washing a colored boy:--

    “You may wash and scrub him from morning till night,
    Your labor’s in vain, black will never come white.”

This particular sign was imported from France, where the _calembour_
sign flourished. Some even say that the punning sign became popular in
England only “after Edward ye 3 had conquered France.” The French have
two interpretations of the “Labor in Vain”: one corresponds with the
English version; the other, “Au temps perdu,” represents a
schoolmaster teaching an ass. As counterpart we find “Le temps gagné,”
a peasant carrying his donkey. The French _calembours_ were decidedly
less reverential than the English punning signs. Neither religion nor
good morals are sacred to the Gallic wag, who is allowed to say
anything if he understands how to turn it gracefully. “Le Signe de la
croix” is depicted by a swan (_cygne_) and a cross, and even the
tragic scene of Jesus taken prisoner in the Garden of Gethsemane--_le
juste pris_--is turned into the shameless words, “Au juste prix,” to
advertise the cheapness of drinks and victuals. More innocent is the
distortion of the “Lion d’or” into the undeniable truth, “Au lit on
dort,” or the inscription on a white-horse sign: “Ici on loge à pied
et à cheval.” The temptation to use such _calembours_ no trader could
resist. A corset-maker praised his goods thus: “Je soutiens les
faibles, je comprime les forts, je ramène les égarés.” We shall see in
the following chapter how such pointed jokes and blasphemies roused
the righteous indignation of the honorable and pious citizens and
increased the enemies of the sign, who finally gave it the _coup de



[Illustration: Cavallo Bianco, Borgo San Dalmazzo, Italy]



    “Ne songez pas même à réformer les enseignes d’une ville!”

In mediæval times the signs were not only charming or pious
decorations of the snug narrow streets, but they were also very useful
and practical guides for the wayfarer through the labyrinth of crooked
lanes. Even the uneducated understood their pictorial language like
illustrations in a book which give even to a child a certain
clue to its meaning. For this very reason the learned Sebastian
Brant decorated his edition of Virgil of 1522 with elaborate
pictures,--_expolitissimis figuris atque imaginibus nuper per
Sebastianum Brant superadditis_,--firmly hoping that now even the
unlearned would easily understand the beauties of his beloved author:
“_Nec minus indoctus perlegere illa potest_.” While the learned men in
general continued to despise pictures in their editions of the
classics, the first popular books tried through their wood-cuts to
speak to the fancy of the common people and thus win their applause.
Just as these pictures in the old books, so the signs in the streets
spoke to the _indoctus_. Therefore, if somebody wished to send a
letter to his banker in Fleet Street, London, he needed only to tell
his messenger that it was at the “Three Squirrels,” and he was sure
that even the greatest numskull could find it. Unfortunately the
owners of this old banking-house have withdrawn the sign, so it took
me quite a while before I found it safely hung up on a modern iron arm
in the office of Messrs. Barclay & Co., No. 19, Fleet Street. The
characteristic interpretation of the sign, given to me by the banker
himself, was: “May you never want a nut to crack.”


In the old times the streets were not yet numbered, as Macaulay tells
us, not even at the end of the seventeenth century. “There would
indeed have been little advantage in numbering them; for of the
coachmen, chairmen, porters, and errand-boys of London, a very small
proportion could read.... The shops were therefore distinguished by
painted signs, which gave a gay and grotesque aspect to the streets.
The walk from Charing Cross to Whitechapel lay through an endless
succession of Saracens’ Heads, Royal Oaks, Blue Bears, and Golden
Lambs, which disappeared when they were no longer required for the
direction of the common people.” As a useful guide to find one’s way
the sign was expressly recognized by the state authorities; so in a
privilege granted by Charles I to the inhabitants of London to hang
out signs “for the better finding out such citizens’ dwellings, shops,
arts, or occupations.” For the landlords, it was even made obligatory
so as to facilitate the police in determining if the laws concerning
the liquor trade were properly observed. An Act of Parliament in the
reign of Henry VI forced the brewers to hang out signs and an
ordinance of Louis XIV for Paris distinctly demands: “Pour donner à
connoître les lieux où se vendent les vins en détail et si les
réglements y sont observez, nul ne pourra tenir taverne en cette dite
ville et faubourgs sans mettre enseigne et bouchon.” Similar
regulations we find in Switzerland; as, for instance, in Maienfeld
where the city fathers punished every one who kept tavern without an
“open sign.” Through such restrictions they hoped to stop the
competition of the simple burgher, “the temporary landlord,” who tried
to sell the surplus product of his own vineyard, and thus to secure
the patronage of all thirsty souls for the legal “Schildwirt,” the
landlord with a sign, even if he lived only from the “bouchon” or
cork and could not accommodate guests overnight.


If they had not a sign out, how could the watchman, after the
night-bell--sometimes called “Lumpenglocke” in Germany--had sounded,
investigate properly if the tavern-keepers really stopped to furnish
the guests with new wine? And was it not the duty of the city fathers
to look after the morals of their subjects and to teach them the
wisdom of the German saying:--

    “Er hat nicht wol getrunken, der sich übertrinket.
    Wie ziemet das biderbem Mann, daz ihm die Zunge hinket?”

So the sign was in many ways a useful institution topographically,
politically, and morally. Its merits are not yet exhausted: it was a
good weather prophet, too. When the old iron things began to moan and
to squeak, storm and rain surely were not far, as an English rhyme
whimsically says:--

    “But when the swinging signs your ears offend
    With creaking noise, then rainy floods impend.”

How was it possible, then, that such an institution as our amiable
sign, approved and furthered by the State, such a popular, often
artistically charming creation, could have enemies? The first reason,
as we have seen in our chapter on “Religious Signs,” was that pious
signs were used by impious innkeepers or that religious themes were
represented in a manner insulting to all religious feeling. No wonder,
if a French landlord called his tavern “Au sermon,” and illustrated
the word “sermon” by a deer (_cerf_) and a mountain (_mont_), that the
really pious citizen protested and exclaimed indignantly: “Ne
devrait-on pas condamner à une grosse amende un misérable cabaretier
qui met à son enseigne un cerf et un mont pour faire une ridicule
équivoque à sermon? Ce qui autorise des ivrognes à dire qu’ils vont
tous les jours au sermon ou qu’ils en viennent.”

Surely the really pious signs subsisted beside their frivolous
brothers, as the English doctor-sign of 1623, beautifully carved and
gilded and now a treasure of a collector, proves by its inscription:
“Altissimus creavit de terra medicynam et vir prudens non abhorrebit
illam.” Curiously enough, the schoolmaster souls took offense at the
sign’s absurd combinations, its lack of “sound literature and good
sense,” its impossible orthography and ridiculous mottoes, which, by
the way, were added only later to the pictures. All this was extremely
shocking to these people and many of them thought it a noble life-task
to reform the signs. One of these reformers developed his programme in
one of the oldest English periodicals, “The Spectator,” in an April
number of the year 1710, fully aware of attempting an herculean labor.
Combinations, such as “Fox and Goose,” he deigns to admit; but what
sense, asks he, in logical indignation, “is in such absurdities as
‘Fox and the Seven Stars,’ or worse still, in the ‘Three Nuns and a
Hare’?” Molière, in “Les Fâcheux,” has ridiculed these sign reformers,
a species not unknown in Paris either, in the person of Monsieur
Caritidès, who humbly solicited Louis XIV to invest him with the
position of a General Sign Controller. His petition reads, in
Molière’s inimitable French, as follows:--


     Votre très-humble, très-obéissant, très-fidèle et très savant
     sujet et serviteur Caritidès, Français de nation, Grec de
     profession, ayant considéré les grands et notables abus qui se
     commettent aux inscriptions des enseignes des maisons
     boutiques, cabarets, jeux de boule et autres lieux de votre
     bonne ville de Paris, en ce que certains ignorants,
     compositeurs des dites inscriptions, renversent, par une
     barbare, pernicieuse et détestable orthographe, toute sorte de
     sens et de raison, sans aucun regard d’etymologie, analogie,
     énergie ni allégorie quelconque au grand scandale de la
     république des lettres et de la nation Française, qui se décrie
     et déshonore, par les dits abus et fautes grossières, envers
     les étrangers, et notamment envers les Allemands, curieux
     lecteurs et inspecteurs des dites inscriptions ... supplie
     humblement Votre Majesté de créer, pour le bien de son État et
     la gloire de son empire une charge de contrôleur,
     intendant-correcteur, réviseur et restaurateur général des
     dites inscriptions et d’icelle honorer le suppliant....

[Illustration: ZUM SCHLÜSSEL BOZEN.]

In all impartiality we have to admit that really the sign lost by and
by its usefulness as a street-guide, since the trades and crafts
occupying a house changed often, while the old signs, especially those
which formed a part of its architecture, remained unchanged, thus
producing the most ridiculous contradictions against which the
above-mentioned reformer of “The Spectator” protested not without
reason, saying: “A cook should not live at ‘The Boot’ nor a shoemaker
at ‘The Roasted Pig.’”

But the most ruthless enemy of the sign became the police itself, who
once protected it. As early as the year 1419 we find an English police
regulation, threatening with a fine of forty pence--in those days
quite a sum--“that no one in future should have a stake bearing either
his sign or leaves, extending or lying over the King’s highway, of
greater length than seven feet at most.” As every innkeeper tried to
outdo the other by the size and the magnificence of his sign, one
arrived finally at absurdly great constructions which really hampered
the traffic: as in England, where we find wrought-iron signs which,
like arches of triumph, reached from one side of the street to the
other. A precious old book, “A Vademecum for Malt-Worms” (British
Museum), in a quaint woodcut, “The Dog in Shoreditch,” gives us a
picture of such a sign monument. To the artist’s eyes they were
charming things, combining happily great lanterns with the sign into a
harmony which we so often find lacking in modern days, where beautiful
old signs through the addition of ugly modern lamps lose all their
artistic charm of yore.

[Illustration: ·THE·DOG·IN·SHOREDITCH·]

Mercier’s “Tableau de Paris” tells us of ridiculously great signs:
spurs as large as a wheel, gloves big enough to house a three-year-old
babe, and the like. In old Germany, too, the sight of the giant signs,
as Victor Hugo describes them from Frankfurt-on-the-Main, must have
been fantastic enough. “Under the titanic weight of these sign
monuments caryatides are bowed down in all positions of rage, pain,
and fatigue.” Some of them carry an impudent bronze negro in a gilded
tin mantle; others an enormous Roman emperor--a monolith of twenty
feet in height--“dans toute la pompe du costume de Louis XIV avec sa
grande perruque, son ample manteau, son fauteuil, son estrade, sa
crédence où est sa couronne, son dais a pentes découpées et à vastes

Especially objectionable to the police in London were those signs that
reached far out over the street and, shaken by the wind, constituted a
real danger to the passer-by. So the fall of such a huge inn sign in
Fleet Street, London, in 1718, caused the death of two ladies, a court
jeweler, and a cobbler. Similar dangers threatening an innocent public
were vividly set forth in a Parisian police ordinance in 1761, in an
amusing bureaucratic French: “Les enseignes saillantes faisaient
paraître les rues plus étroites et dans les rues commerçantes elles
nuisaient considérablement aux vues des premiers étages, et même a la
clarté des laternes, en occasionnant des ombres préjudiciables à la
sureté publique; elles formaient un péril perpetuellement imminent sur
la tête des passants, tant par l’inattention des propriétaires et des
locataires sur la vétusté des enseignes ou des potences, qui en ont
souvent abattu plusieurs et causé les accidents les plus funestes.”

[Illustration: THE QUEEN·IN EXETER·]

If the police had contented itself in eliminating the offensive or
really dangerous signs, nobody could have blamed it. Unfortunately it
was much more aggressive, especially in France, the paradise of the
“ronds de cuir,” and attempted to cut down every individual or
artistic invention on the part of the signmakers. We are, therefore,
not surprised to find so little in modern France that could remind us
of the old abundance. The officials of the Revolution proved
themselves just as narrow-minded as those of royal times. Both,
animated by the bureaucratic instinct to confine everything to narrow
rules, tried to suppress all individual poetical invention that once
was the charm of the sign. A royal edict of 1763 prescribes a very
uninteresting design as a binding model for all signs, giving at the
same time the exact measurements of the same and warning the public
not to dare to make any changes on the “dessein cy-dessus marqué.” It
was a poor consolation for the owners of beautiful old signs that the
same edict granted them the great privilege of giving their
art-treasures in account as old iron--“quinze deniers la livre”--when
paying the bill for the new sign patented by the State. Still more
radically acted the men of the Revolution, who sincerely hated the
signs, with their crowns and heraldry, as abominable “marques du
despotisme.” They made short work, and simply ordered: “Toutes les
enseignes qui portent des signes de royalisme, féodalité et de
superstition seront renouvelées et remplacées par des signes
républicains: les enseignes ne seront plus saillantes mais simplement
peintes sur les murs des maisons.”

Another danger for the sign resulted from the attempt to number the
houses of which we hear, perhaps for the first time in France, as
early as 1512. This first attempt failed, but in the enlightened
eighteenth century the new and certainly more reasonable method of
distinguishing a house from its neighbor decidedly gained ground. In
1805 it was made obligatory by the Parisian police. A similar
development we observe in England. Nobody will deny the practical
progress and no business man would like to return to the old times
when an English bookseller, for instance, had to give the address of
his shop in the following way: “Over against the Royal Exchange at the
Sugar Loaf next Temple Bar.” In Germany, where the centralization in
large capitals made slower progress and a multitude of small social
and political centers kept their own, the rational institution of
numbering the houses, so necessary in great cities like Paris or
London, was not accepted so quickly. In 1802 Dresden, for instance,
had not even on the street corners signs indicating their names; “an
institution that facilitates topography and topography facilitates
business,” remarks a judicious contemporary. Here in Germany the cold
number did not conquer so easily over the poetical warmth of the dear
old sign. In the quiet, imperial towns of the south the artistic sign
of the Rococo period and the Empire style, unpersecuted and
unmolested, keep their place in the sun up to the present day in spite
of some ill-advised landlords who thought it necessary to hide the
humble oxen or lamb in the garret and call their house by some new
pretentious French name like “Hotel de l’Europe” or the like.

[Illustration: ·Stuttgart·]

In our own enlightened times of general school education, nobody needs
any more the sign as a guide through even the most modest town.
Everywhere the number has taken its place for this purpose and we
regret to admit for the history of the sign too the truth of Darwin’s
words: “Progress in history means the decline of phantasy and the
advance of thought.”


[Illustration: Sonne Neckarsulm, Württemberg]


    “I am here in a strange land and have perhaps the seat of honor
    at table in this inn; but the man down there on the end has just
    as good a right here and there as I, since we are both here only

     MARTIN LUTHER: Sermons. Jubilate, 1542.

It is not very much the fashion in these modern days to ask for the
moral meaning of things, but we are old-fashioned enough to hold with
those who believe that things have not only a soul, but that they give
us a lesson too in revealing their soul to us, “la leçon des choses,”
as the French, whom we are inclined to call condescendingly the
immoral French, call it. Old Frederic the Great in his famous
interview with the poet Gellert in Leipzig, after hearing from him one
of his fables “The Painter of Athens,” did not fail to ask the
all-important question: “And the Moral?”

Many a reader who has followed us but hesitatingly into regions that
seemed to him at the beginning of doubtful moral value, will be
perhaps surprised to see us conclude our investigations with this same
question. But I am sure we will do it with good profit, since in doing
so we shall have the chance to hear many a sermon of Doctor Martinus
Luther, whose moral force we children of the twentieth century would
love to dig out of his writings if its gold did not seem to us so
hopelessly buried under the sand of antiquated dogmatical quarrels.

The tavern sign has its moral lesson for all concerned, guests and
landlords alike. From its modest and unknown creators the modern
artist too may receive many a valuable inspiration. When the poet
Seume, in December, 1801, started from Grimma in Saxony on his long
pilgrimage to Syracuse, his way seems to have led him soon to a
knightly George, who fights the dragon in all Christian lands, over
many a tavern door for centuries and whom Shakespeare celebrated in
the verses:--

    “St. George that swindg’ed the Dragon, and e’er since
    Sits on his horseback at mine hostess’ door.”

Looking at the great green beast our romantic pilgrim prayed: “May
heaven grant me honest, friendly landlords and polite guardians at
the city gates from Leipzig to Syracuse!” In those old days when the
gate was dangerously near the tower and its dungeon, it was indeed of
the highest importance to find polite officials at the city gates;
just as we might sometimes pray to-day for polite customs officials,
the successors of the old grumpy watchmen who guarded the city
entrance and wrote the newcomer’s name in their big books. Still more
important, too, is it for the modern traveler to find friendly
landlords. They seem as in the old days a gift from heaven, for which
we must pray and which we cannot buy. Truly many travelers seem to
think a full purse buys everything, but they forget the old truth
which Charles Wagner, in his book “La vie simple,” has expressed
rightly in the following sentence: “Le travail d’un homme n’est pas
une marchandise au même titre qu’un sac de blé ou un quintal de
charbon. Il entre dans ce travail des éléments qu’on ne peut évaluer
en monnaie.” And just these fine elements in the work of a landlord
and his servants which we cannot weigh or pay for make the simplest
inn so homelike and cozy. A good landlord does not need to fear even
Death, who seems to seize only the dishonest one, if we believe the
author of a “Dance of Death” from the fifteenth century in the
Stuttgarter Hofbibliothek. In a few forceful lines the old artist
traces the figure of the bad landlord sitting behind his counter and
trying to win the good favors of the uncanny musician Death, by
offering him a great stein of beer and humbly confessing: “Against God
and against law I sought to win earthly goods, taking money unjustly
from knights and peasants as a robber does. Oh, if I only should not
die now, I could hope to improve and to win grace.”

Many a landlord would gladly follow the example of Abraham if only his
guests would try to learn a little from the angels. But how often come
to him such wild fellows who claim every good thing he has in cellar
and kitchen, and when it comes to pay take French leave.

It is well known that, as the old Bible saying goes, the sun is
shining over good and bad, over just and unjust, but Luther thought he
does not do it gladly. Perhaps the Doctor, who knew so many roads from
his own experience, even thought of the golden tavern sun when he
said: “The sun would prefer that all the bad fellows should get not a
single little gleam from him and it is a great grief and cross to him
that he must shine over them, wherefore he sighs and moans.”


Nobody has admonished us so heartily as Doctor Martinus to hold
ourselves as pious guests in this inn of Life, to live honestly and
decently in it as it becomes a guest. “If you wish to be a guest, be
peaceful and behave yourself as a Christian; otherwise they will soon
show you the way to the tower.” It is characteristic for Luther to
remind the unruly guest of the tower, i.e., the prison. In other
connections too he readily refers to Master John the Hangman who is to
his mind a very useful, nay, even charitable man.

Since we did not hesitate to threaten the landlord with the ghastly
musician of the “Dance of Death,” it will seem only fair to remind the
guests of the tower, which in the old days was used as prison for the
peace-breakers. Luther, like all good Germans, was not a
prohibitionist; he recognized “a drink in honor,” “einen Trunk in
Ehren,” but he was a fierce enemy of all “drunkards and loafers” who
lie in taverns Sunday and week-day and pour the beer down their
throats as cows gulp water, saying: “What do I care about God, what do
I care about death? You miserable hog, you shall get what you are
striving for, you shall die too and be swallowed up by the mouth of
Hell.” To every decent landlord such guests are a curse. To chase them
from his threshold the owner of the “George and Dragon” in Great
Budworth (Cheshire) invented the fine rhyme which should stand over
every tavern door:--

    “As St. George in armed array
    Did the fiery dragon slay,
    So may’st thou, with might no less,
    Slay that dragon drunkenness.”

A decent behavior surely, but no melancholy teetotalism, such is
Luther’s standpoint. “Those have not been of the devil who drank a
little more as their thirst required and became joyful.”--“It is not
the fault of the eating and drinking, that some people degrade
themselves to swine.” Just as dancing in itself is no sin: “Why not
admit an honorable dance at a marriage feast? Go and dance! The little
children dance too without sin; do the same and be like a child whose
soul is not injured by dancing.”

The whole world appears to Luther like an inn in a strange town, in
which the pilgrim lies. In his nightly dreams he does not think of
becoming a citizen or a major of this town, his thoughts wander away
through the gate to the far city where his home is.

To the pretentious traveler his description of “Christ’s Inn,” which
reminds us of our Swiss sign, “Hie zum Christkindli,” might serve as
a little lesson in modesty. Thus he speaks about it in a Christmas
sermon: “Look, how the two parents in a strange land in a strange city
search in vain for good and hospitable friends. Even in the inns was
no room, since the city at that time was so crowded. In a cow-stable
they had to go and make the best of it as poor poor people! There was
no couch, no linnen, no cushions, no feather-beds; on a bundle of
straw they made their bed as close neighbours of the good cattle.
There in a hard winter-night the noble blessed fruit was born, the
dear child Jesus.” And in another Christmas sermon he says: “If you
look at it with cow’s or swine’s eyes it was a miserable birth ... but
if you open your spiritual eyes you will see countless thousands of
angels, filling the heaven with their song and honouring not only the
child but the manger too in which it lies.”

Everything depends finally upon the way we look at it, if with cows’
eyes or with spiritual eyes. Only these will enable us to see in the
poorest inn the angel of hospitality covering us at night with gentle
wings. Till finally Mother Earth shall cover us softly in our last
quiet “Deversorium” in which we have at least the hangman’s comfort:
“You shall be called to no more payments, fear no more tavern bills
which are often the sadness of parting as the procuring of mirth.”

But we must not end without delivering a little sermon to the signs,
too, that still glitter in the warm sunshine. To them, cocks, deer,
bears, oxen, and horses, a church-tower cock, celebrated by the
humorous clergyman poet Möricke of Schwabenland, gives this solemn

    “You poor old iron things,
    Why should you be so vain?
    Who knows how many springs
    You will up there remain?”


1. Petit dictionnaire critique et anecdotique des enseignes de Paris
par un batteur de pavé 1826, in Balzac’s _Œuvres complètes_,
tome XXI. 1879.

2. E. DE QUERIÈRE. Recherches historiques sur les enseignes, in
the _Magazin pittoresque_, 1850-60.

3. BLAVIGNAC. Histoire des enseignes d’hôtelleries, d’auberges
et de cabarets. Genève, 1879.

4. L. REUTTER. Les enseignes d’auberges du canton de Neuchâtel,
avec notices par A. Bachelin. 1886. Neuchâtel.

5. MICHEL-FOURNIER. Histoire des Hôtelleries. Paris, 1851.

6. JOHN GRAND-CARTERET. L’enseigne, son histoire, sa philosophie,
ses particularités à Lyon. Grenoble, 1902.

7. Journal du Voyage de MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE en Italie par
la Suisse et l’Allemagne en 1580 et 1581. Rome, 1775.

8. TRISTAN LECLÈRE. Les Enseignes, in the _Revue Universelle_,

9. P. FROMAGEOT. Les Hôtelleries, cafés et cabarets de l’ancien
Versailles. 1907.

10. EMILE CHATELAIN. Notes sur quelques tavernes fréquentées
par l’université de Paris au XIV et XV siècles. Paris, 1898.

11. E. L. CHAMBOIS. Le Vieux Mans, les Hôtelleries et leurs
enseignes. Le Mans. 1904.

of Signboards. First edition. London, 1866.

13. CHARLES HINDLEY. Tavern Anecdotes and Sayings. London,

14. GEO. T. BURROWS. Some Old English Inns. New York.
Frederick A. Stokes & Co.

15. GEO. T. BURROWS. Old Inns of England, in the _Estate
Magazine_, May, 1905.

16. P. H. DITCHFIELD. English Villages.

17. P. H. DITCHFIELD. The Charm of the English Village.

18. E. G. DAWBER. Old English Signs in _The Art Journal_,

19. T. B. COOPER. The Old Inns and Inn Signs of York.

20. F. G. HILTON PRICE. The Signs of Old Lombard Street.
Illustrations by James West. London. Field and Tuer.

21. WILFRED MARK WEBB. Signs that Survive, in the _English
Illustrated Magazine_. September, 1900.

22. JULIAN KING COLFORD. The Romance of the Signs of Old
London, in the _Magazine of Commerce_. July-December, 1903.

23. F. CORNMAN. Some Old London Shop Signs. 3 series,
1891-94, printed only in 30 to 40 copies (Guildhall-Library:
Gal. M. 1. 5. 4°).

24. A GUIDE FOR MALT WORMS, a second of a Vademecum for
Malt Worms or a Guide to Good-Fellows. London. Illustrated
with proper cuts. (British Museum: C-39-b. 19.)

25. De Uithangteekens in verband met Geschiedenis in Volksleven
beschouwd door Mr. I. VAN LENNEP en I. TER GOUW. First edition,
1868. New edition, Leiden, 1888.

26. OVERBECK. Pompeii.

27. H. JORDAN. Über römische Aushängeschilder, in the _Archæologische
Zeitung_, 1872.

28. HOMEYER. Deutsche Haus-und Hofmarken.

29. FRIEDRICH HAAS. Entwickelung der Posten vom Altertum bis
zur Neuzeit. Berlin, 1895.

30. BENNO RÜTTENAUER. Schwäbische Wirtshauschilder, in _Die
Rheinlande_, November, 1903.

31. LEO VON NOORT. Deutsche Wirtshauschilder. _Woche_, June,

32. A. BRUDER. Die Wirtshäuser des Mittelalters. Innsbruck,

33. TH. VON LIEBENAU. Gasthofswesen in der Schweiz. 1891.

34. HANS BARTH, Osteria. Kulturgeschichtlicher Führer. durch
Italiens Schenken. Verlag Julius Hoffmann. Stuttgart.

35. FRITZ ENDELL. Wirtshauschilder. Über Land und Meer,
1910. (39.)

36. CHARLES FEGDAL. Les vieilles enseignes de Paris. 3. édition.
Paris, 1914.

37. ÉDOUARD FOURNIER. Histoire des enseignes de Paris, 1884.

38. STEPHEN JENKINS. The Old Boston Post Road. New York,

39. WEITENKAMPF. Lo, The Wooden Indian. (The art of making
cigar-shop signs. Sculptors in wood who began by making
the figureheads of ships.) _New York Times_, August 3,

40. WEITENKAMPF. Some Signs and Others. _New York Times_,
July 3, 1892.

       *       *       *       *       *

    C’est bien disné, quand on s’échappe
    Sans débourser pas un denier,
    Et dire adieu au tavernier
    En torchant son nez dans sa nappe.



    Abbot’s inn, 62.

    Absalom, 159.

    Adam and Eve, 5, 7, 138.

    Ad maurum, 38.

    Ad Mercurium et Apollinem, 39.

    Admiral Vernon, 207.

    Ad rotam, 37 (_illus._).

    Affenwagen, 91 (_illus._).

    A l’enseigne de la belle étoile, 165.

    A l’enseigne de la lune, 165.

    A l’enseigne du pavillon des singes, 169.

    A l’image du Christ, 71.

    A l’image de Notre Dame, 151.

    Alla spada, 80.

    A man loaded with mischief, 155.

    American signs, 151, 199 _f._, 213.

    Anchor, 84, 85, 117.

    Âne rayé, l’, 92.

    Angel, 7, 11 (_illus._), 12 _ff._, 81, 124.

    Annunciation, 12.

    Apollo, 38, 203, 213.

    Ark of Noah, 89.

    Asne rouge, 173.

    Ass in the bandbox, 210.

    Auberge de la mule, 89.

    Auerbach’s Keller, 85.

    Au grand monarque, 189.

    Au grand vainqueur, 195.

    Au juste prix, 257.

    Au lit on dort, 257.

    Au paradis des dames, 7.

    Au perroquet vert, 97.

    Au sermon, 266.

    Au temps perdu, 256.

    Au vase d’or, 123.

    Aux deux Pierrots, 151.

    Aux trois lapins, 227 (_illus._).

    Axe, 85.

    Bacchus, 152, 203.

    Bag of nails, 255.

    Bakers’ signs, 86, 134, 135 (_illus._), 241.

    Barking dogs, 158.

    Bear, 36, 44, 72, 120, 185, 211, 251.

    Bear and Billet, 240.

    Beehive, 98.

    Bee’s Wing, 248.

    Bell, 73, 117, 138, 247 _f._

    Bell and candlestick, 249.

    Bell and lion, 249.

    Belle sauvage, 249.

    Blue bear, 263.

    Blue boar, 115 (_illus._), 239.

    Blue cap, 248.

    Boar’s head, 115 _f._

    Bock, 228.

    Bonaparte, 151, 207 _f._, 210.

    Boot, 85, 269.

    Bowman tavern, 114.

    Bras d’or, 199.

    Bratwurstglöckle, 185.

    Brutus, 196.

    Bull, 86, 164.

    Bull and bell, 86.

    Bull and magpie, 86.

    Bull and mouth, 241.

    Bull and stirrup, 86.

    Buona moglie, la, 69.

    Butcher sign (_illus._), 197.

    Cabaret du petit père noire, 178.

    Cadran bleu, 214.

    Cage, 73, 97.

    Camel, 44.

    Canone d’oro, 80.

    Capello, 117.

    Castor and Pollux, 203.

    Cat and fiddle, 204, 255.

    Cat and wheel, 204.

    Cavallo bianco, 45, 174.

    Cave des morts, la, 160.

    Centaur, 107, 119.

    Chaste Suzanne, la, 152.

    Chat noir, 150, 175.

    Chat qui dort (_illus._), 89.

    Cheshire Cheese, 180 _ff._

    Chessboard, 33, 139.

    Cheval blanc, 151, 174.

    Cicero, 207.

    Cigogne, 90.

    Club signs, 243.

    Cochon mitré, 204.

    Cock, 34, 90, 162, 180, 183, 184 (_illus._), 190.

    Cock and bell, 249.

    Cock and bottle, 241.

    Cock and crown, 215.

    Cockpit, 104.

    Couronne civile, 194.

    Cradle, 99.

    Crocodile, 92.

    Croix de Lorraine, 175.

    Cromwell, 206.

    Cross, 82, 99, 185, 205, 257.

    Cross Keys, 104.

    Crown, 18, 72, 86, 120, 122, 124, 191 (_illus._), 192, 211 _f._

    Cursus publicus, 40.

    Curtain, 104.

    Czar’s head, 206.

    Death and the doctor, 160.

    Deux torches, 177.

    Devil, 182.

    Diable, 176.

    Diana, 38.

    Dog, 89, 214, 246.

    Dog and duck, 250.

    Dog and pot (_illus._), 214.

    Dog in Shoreditch (_illus._), 270.

    Dolphin, 203, 241.

    Donkey, 210.

    Dove, 90.

    Dragon, 93.

    Dromedary, 91.

    Drudenfuss, 32.

    Eagle, 35, 41, 82, 117, 120, 169, 232.

    Eagle and child (_illus._), 100.

    Eisenhut, 79.

    Elephant, 34, 35, 45, 113.

    Elephant and castle (_illus._), 7.

    Epée de bois, 177.

    Erasmus of Rotterdam, 206.

    Falcon, 104, 105 (_illus._), 242.

    Falstaff, 242.

    Federal punch, 213.

    Femme sans tête, 67, 69.

    Feuerkugel, 229.

    Fighting cocks, 249.

    Fish, 84.

    Flags, 36.

    Fleur de lys, 82.

    Flying Dutchman, 248.

    Flying horse, 108.

    Fontaine de jouvence, la, 152.

    Fortune, 104, 203.

    Four alls, 255.

    Four swans, 240.

    Fox, 94, 246.

    Fox and goose, 267.

    Fox and hounds, 252.

    Fox and the seven stars, 267.

    Frederic the Great, 206.

    Garter, 112.

    Géant, le, 94.

    George, 54, 62, 63, 108, 280.

    George and dragon, 164, 286 (_illus._).

    German hospitality, 21 _f._

    German War-poster, 162.

    Giraffe, 93.

    Globe, 164.

    Goat, 163.

    Goat and compasses, 256.

    God begot house, 54.

    God encompasses us, 256.

    Golden bear, 229.

    Golden cannon, 45.

    Golden cross, 205.

    Golden eagle, 208.

    Golden head, 176.

    Golden lamb, 263.

    Golden lion, 103, 170, 226, 227.

    Golden louse, 233.

    Golden tiger, 112.

    Goldene Brunnen, 228.

    Goldene Wage, 226.

    Good eating, 73, 139.

    Good man, 70.

    Good Samaritan, 154.

    Good woman, 67, 68.

    Governor Hancock, 200.

    Grand Hercule, le, 94.

    Gray donkey, 210.

    Greek signs, 44.

    Green monkeys, 90 _f._

    Grosser Engel, 226.

    Guild-houses, 137.

    Gustavus Adolphus, 206.

    Habsburger Hof, 111.

    Half-Moon, 87, 88, 112, 136.

    Half-Moon and punchbowl, 213.

    Hand and cock, 254.

    Hand of hospitality, 19 _f._

    Haubert, le, 80.

    Hell, 45, 72.

    Helmet, 78 _f._

    Hercules, 9, 38, 94, 203, 244.

    High Lily, 53.

    Horse, 246 _f._

    Hospice of the Great St. Bernard, 50.

    Hospital of St. Cross, 53.

    Hôtel de l’Arquebuse, 114.

    Hôtel de l’Empereur, 211.

    Hôtel de l’Europe, 276.

    Hôtel Victoria, 232.

    Huron, 151, 204.

    In angelo, 13.

    In der Roskam, 136.

    In duobus angelis, 13.

    Indian signs, 204.

    Iron helmet, 78 _f._

    Jonge Stier, 154.

    Kaiserhof, 111.

    Kaiser Joseph, 210.

    Knights of St. John, 51 _ff._

    Knights Templars, 51 _f._

    Kölner Hof, 111.

    Königin von England, 232.

    Korn’s Hotel, 220.

    Krug, 135.

    Labor in vain, 256.

    Lamb, 85, 99, 137.

    Leopard, 111.

    Linde, 81.

    Lion, 83, 185, 186 (_illus._).

    Little and great sleeper, 94.

    Living signs, 97.

    Logger-Heads, 159.

    Lubbar’s Head, 111.

    Mayde’s Hede, 109.

    Mercury, 38.

    Mermaid, 93, 178.

    Minerva, 203.

    Mirabilia Romæ, 53.

    Mitre, 182.

    Mol’s Coffee House, 81.

    Moon, 87.

    Moor, 38.

    Mortar, 173.

    Mort qui trompe, la, 27, 160.

    Mouton blanc, 176 _f._

    Mule, 89, 173.

    Mutter Grün, 165.

    New Inn, 110, 239.

    Oak, 211.

    Ochse, 232.

    Ostel des singes, l’, 90.

    Osteria del penello, 46.

    Ours qui pile, 173.

    Pack-Horse, 246 (_illus._).

    Paon blanc, 96.

    Paradise, 7, 72.

    Parrot and punchbowl, 213.

    Peacock, 96, 103.

    Pegasus, 108, 203.

    Pentacle, 230.

    Pentagram, 32 _f._, 230.

    Pestle, 173.

    Pheasant, 96.

    Phenix, 104, 107, 203.

    Pig and carrot, 255.

    Pig and whistle, 254 _f._

    Pilgrim inns, 51, 63.

    Pitcher, 134, 136.

    Plat d’argent, 73.

    Plat d’estein, 173.

    Pomegranate, 107.

    Pomme de pin, 174 _f._

    Poor men’s inns, 51, 61.

    Post, 221.

    Publishers’ signs, 243 _f._

    Punchbowl, 212.

    Purgatory, 72.

    Quatre nations, 170.

    Quattuor sorores, 27.

    Rathskeller, 84.

    Raven, 222.

    Red bull, 104.

    Red cock, 232.

    Red horse, 103.

    Red lion, 106, 109, 239.

    Rembrandt, 206.

    Rémouleur (_illus._), 152, 153.

    Renard dansant devant une poule, 95.

    Rheinischer Hof, 111.

    Ritter, 62.

    Roasted pig, 269.

    Roi mort, le, 196.

    Roman eagle, 41.

    Roman post-system, 40.

    Römischer Kaiser, 228, 271.

    Rose, 104, 121 (_illus._), 212, 228.

    Rowing barge, 164 (_illus._), 125.

    Royal oak, 211, 263.

    Running horses, 247.

    Ruysdael, 206.

    Sagittary, 113, 203.

    Sainte Opportune, 171.

    Salutation, 72, 158, 205, 245.

    Samaritaine, 244.

    Saracen’s Head, 263.

    St. Barbara, 73.

    St. Catherine and wheel, 204.

    St. Christopher, 60 _f._

    St. Dominic, 66.

    St. Fiacre, 70.

    St. George, 62 _ff._, 65.

    St. Martin, 65 _f._

    St. Urban, 66.

    Schiller, 206.

    Schoolmaster sign, 131, 147.

    Seelhäuser, 51.

    Ship, 84.

    Ship and punchbowl, 213.

    Shoemaker sign, 241.

    Silent woman, 68.

    Siren, 93, 203.

    Six reines, 93.

    Soleil d’or, 152.

    Speaking signs, 135 _f._

    Spread eagle, 117.

    Star, 72, 86, 87, 140, 185, 225.

    Star and garter, 113.

    Stella maris, 86.

    Stork, 36, 90.

    Striped donkey, 92.

    Sugar Loaf, 275.

    Sun, 38, 39, 86 _f._, 138, 284 (_illus._).

    Surgeon’s sign, 147 _f._

    Swan, 95, 229, 239.

    Swan and horse shoe, 215.

    Sword, 80.

    Tabard, 80, 237.

    Tavern, 29.

    Temps gagné, le, 256.

    Tessera hospitalis, 19.

    Tête noire, 176.

    Three angels, 13.

    Three crowns, 220.

    Three jolly sailors, 85.

    Three Kings, 185, 192 _f._, 210.

    Three Madonnas, 46.

    Three Moors, 193 _f._

    Three nuns and a hare, 267.

    Three squirrels, 262 (_illus._).

    Tiger, 103, 111.

    Tres tabernæ, 29.

    Trinité, 71.

    Trois ponts d’or, 177.

    Unicorne, 83, 93.

    Union Hotel, 199.

    Vertumnus and Pomona, 150.

    Washington, 200.

    We are three, 159.

    Wellington, 206.

    We three asses, 159.

    White hart, 201, 246, 251.

    White horse, 45, 82, 174, 257.

    Wild man, 203.

    Wo der Fuchs den Enten predigt, 95.

    Wooden Indian, 151.

    Wool pack, 247.

    Wreath, 17 _f._, 30, 32, 134, 136.

    Zebra, 92.

    Zu den Slaraffen, 94.

    Zum Anker, 85.

    Zum Engel, 226.

    Zum Geiste, 90, 229.

    Zum guldin Schooffe, 86.

    Zum Kameeltier, 92.

    Zum Kindli, 71 (_illus._), 287.

    Zum Ochsen, 133.

    Zum Ritter, 63.

    Zum Rössle, 83 (_illus._).

    Zum Rohraff, 91.

    Zum Rosenkrantz, 194.

    Zum wilden Mann, 38 (_illus._).

    Zur Linde, 122.

    Zur Schlange, 136.

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