Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/94

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SIGN-BOARD—SIGNIFICS

Dinding the " signature " is a letter or figure placed at the bottom of the first page of a section of a book, as an assistance to the binder in folding and arranging the sections consecutively; hence it is used of a sheet ready folded. In music it is the term applied to the signs affixed at the beginning of the stave showing the key or tonality and the time or rhythm (see Musical Notation). '


SIGN-BOARD, strictly a board placed or hung before any building to designate its character. The French enseigne in- dicates its essential connexion with what is known in English as a flag (q.v.), and in France banners not infrequently took the place of sign-boards in the middle ages. Sign-boards, however, are best known in the shape of painted or carved advertisements for shops, inns, &c, they are in fact one of various emblematic methods used from time immemorial for publicly calling atten- tion to the place to which they refer. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks are known to have used signs, and many Roman examples are preserved, among them the widely-recognized bush to in- dicate a tavern, from which is derived the proverb " Good wine needs no bush." In some cases, such as the bush, or the three balls of pawnbrokers, certain signs became identified with certain trades, but apart from these the emblems employed by traders — evolving often into trade-marks — may in great part be grouped according to their various origins. Thus, at an early period the cross or other sign of a religious character was used to attract Christians, whereas the sign of the sun or the moon would serve the same purpose for pagans. Later, the adaptation of the coats of arms or badges of noble families became common ; these would be described by the people without consideration of the language of heraldry, and thus such signs as the Red Lion, the Green Dragon, &c, have become familiar. Another class of sign was that which exhibited merely persons employed in the various trades, or objects typical of them, but in large towns where many practised the same trade, and especially, as was often the case, where these congregated mainly in the same street, such signs did not provide sufficient distinction. Thus a variety of devices came into existence — sometimes the trader used a rebus on his own name (e.g. two cocks for the name of Cox) ; sometimes he adopted any figure of an animal or other object, or portrait of a well-known person, which he considered likely to attract attention. Finally we have the common associa- tion of two heterogeneous objects, which (apart from those representing a rebus) were in some cases merely a whimsical combination, but in others arose from a popular misconception of the sign itself (e.g. the combination of the " leg and star " may have originated in a representation of the insignia of the garter), or from corruption in popular speech (e.g. the com- bination " goat and compasses " is said by some to be a corrup- tion of " God encompasses "). Whereas the use of signs was generally optional, publicans were on a different footing from other traders in this respect. As early as the 14th century there was a law in England compelling them to exhibit signs, for in 1393 the prosecution of a publican for not doing so is recorded. In France edicts were directed to the same end in 1567 and 1577. Since the object of sign-boards was to attract the public, they were often of an elaborate character. Not only were the signs themselves large and sometimes of great artistic merit (especially in the 16th and 17th centuries, when they reached their greatest vogue) but the posts or metal supports protruding from the houses over the street, from which the signs were swung, were often elaborately worked, and many beautiful examples of wrought -iron supports survive both in England and on the Continent. The signs were a prominent feature of the streets of London at this period. But here and in other large towns they became a danger and a nuisance in the narrow ways. Already in 1669 a royal order had been directed in France against the excessive size of sign-boards and their projection too far over the streets. In Paris in 1761 and in London about 1762-1773 laws were introduced which gradually compelled sign-boards to be removed or fixed flat against the wall. For the most part they only survived in connexion with inns, for which some of the greatest artists of the time painted sign-boards, usually representing the name of the inn. With the gradual abolition of sign-boards the numbering of houses began to be introduced in the 18th century in London. It had been attempted in Paris as early as 151 2, and had become almost universal by the close of the 18th century, though not enforced until 1805. It appears to have been first introduced into London early in the 18th century. Pending this development, houses which carried on trade at night (e.g. coffee houses, &c.) had various specific arrange- ments of lights, and these still survive to some extent, as in the case of doctors' dispensaries and chemists' shops.

See Jacob Larwood and John Camden Hotten, History of Sign-boards (London, 1866).


SIGNIA (mod. Segni), an ancient town of Latium (adiectum), Italy, on a projecting lower summit of the Volscian mountains, above the Via Latina, some 35 m. S.E. of Rome. The modern railway station, 33 m. S.E. of Rome, lies 5 m. S.E. of Signia, 669 ft. above sea level. The modern town (2192 ft.) occupies the lower part of the ancient site. Pop. (1901) 6942. Its founda- tion as a Roman colony is ascribed to Tarquinius Superbus, and new colonists were sent there in 495 B.C. Its position was certainly of great importance: it commands a splendid view, and with Anagnia, which lies opposite to it, guarded the approach to the valley of the Trerus or Tolerus (Sacco) and so the road to the south. It remained faithful to Rome both in the Latin and in the Hannibalic wars, and served as a place of detention for the Carthaginian hostages during the latter. It seems to have re- mained a place of some importance. Like Cora it retained the right of coining in silver. The wonderfully hard, strong cement, made partly of broken pieces of pottery, which served as the lining for Roman water cisterns (opus signinum) owes its name to its invention here (Vitruvius, viii. 7, 14). Its wine, pears and charcoal were famous in Roman times. In 90 B.C. it became a municipium with a senatus and praetores. In the civil war it joined the democratic party, and it was from here that in 82 B.C. Marius marched to Sacriportus (probably marked by the medieval castle of Piombinara, near Segni station, commanding the junction of the Via Labicana and the Via Latina; see T. Ashby, Papers of the British School at Rome, London, 1902, i. 125 sqq.), where he was defeated with loss. After this we hear no more of Signia until, in the middle ages, it became a papal fortress.

The city wall, constructed of polygonal blocks of the mountain limestone and i| m. in circumference, is still well preserved and has several gates; the largest, Porta Saracinesca, is roofed by the gradual inclination of the sides until they are close enough to allow of the placing of a lintel. The other gates, are mostly narrow posterns covered with flat monolithic lintels, and the careful jointing of the blocks of which some of them are composed may be noted. Their date need not be so early as is generally believed (cf. Norba) and they are certainly not pre-Roman. A portion of the wall in the modern town has been restored in opus quadratum. of tufa in Roman times. Above the modern town, on the highest point, is the church of S. Pietro, occupying the central cella of the ancient Capitolium of Signia (which had three cellae) . The walls consist of rectangular blocks of tufa, and the whole rests upon a platform of polygonal masses of limestone (see R. Delbriick, Das Capitolium von Signia, Rome, 1903). An open circular cistern in front of the church lined with rect- angular blocks of tufa may also be noted. (T. As.)


SIGNIFICS. The term " Signifies " may be defined as the science of meaning or the study of significance, provided sufficient recognition is given to its practical aspect as a method of mind, one which is involved in all forms of mental activity, including that of logic.

In Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology (1901-1905) the following definition is given: —

" I. Signifies implies a careful distinction between (a) sense or signification, (b) meaning or intention and (c) significance or ideal worth. It will be seen that the reference of the first is mainly verba! (or rather sensal), of the second volitional, and of the third moral (e.g. we speak of some event ' the significance of which cannot be overrated,' and it would be impossible in such a case to substitute the ' sense ' or the ' meaning ' of such event, without serious loss).