House Mark

“Zum Marienbild” house emblem, um 1570 - 1580

About the object

The relief depicting Mary the Mother of God between two angels is one of the few remaining examples of the once prevalent house emblems. They realised the names of Freiburg’s house in images and were used for identification purposes, before house numbers were introduced around the year 1760. The sign was repainted in 1744 and the name of the owner at the time was added.
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Instead of house numbers, Freiburg dwellings had names assigned to respective properties up until the 18th century. These names were inscribed onto the façade and clearly visible, but especially as a pictorial representation in the form of a house mark. Thus, the house was also identifiable for people who could neither read nor write. The oldest extant house mark is the relief created around 1570/80 for the house »Zum Marienbild« (today's Merianstraße 9) depicting the Virgin Mary between two angels. The inscription on the plaque was regularly changed whenever the property changed hands, most recently in 1744. The homeowner at the time, Johann Martin Von der Lew (Leu) came from Bregenz. He had been living in Freiburg since 1728 and was first a guild master of masons and carpenters, ultimately becoming the City’s master builder in 1762. Among other things, he was in charge of the construction of the Alte Wache (Old Guard Rooms) on the Münsterplatz. The system of house numbering was introduced after 1770, at that time maintaining consecutive numbers for the whole city. Normal street-by-street numbering was introduced in 1866/67.

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