Many people assume that branding is a young profession which started in the modern age. But it seems the history of the profession actually began with the discovery of fire.
Here are some of the historic facts about branding according to Wikipedia:
“The act of marking livestock with fire-heated marks to identify ownership has origins in ancient times, with use dating back to the ancient Egyptians. Among the ancient Romans, the symbols used for brands were sometimes chosen as part of a magic spell aimed at protecting the animal from harm”.“Brand marks have also been used as a punishment for convicted criminals… and with the imposition of an indelible criminal record. Robbers, like runaway slaves, were marked by the Romans with the letter F (fur); and the toilers in the mines, and convicts condemned to figure in gladiatorial shows, were branded on the forehead for identification. Under Constantine I the face was not permitted to be so disfigured, the branding being on the hand, arm or calf.”
“The punishment was adopted by the Anglo-Saxons, and the ancient law of England authorized the penalty. By the Statute of Vagabonds (1547) under King Edward VI, vagabonds and Gypsies were ordered to be branded with a large V on the breast… slaves who ran away were branded with S on the cheek or forehead. This law was repealed in England in 1550.”“In the American West, a branding iron consisted of an iron rod with a simple symbol or mark, which cowboys [the first professional branding practitioners? ] heated in a fire. After the branding iron turned red-hot, the cowboy pressed the branding iron against the hide of the cow.”
“Brands became so numerous that it became necessary to record them in books [ that sounds like the first brand manual ] that the ranchers could carry in their pockets. Laws were passed requiring the registration of brands and the inspection of cattle driven through various territories. Penalties were imposed on those who failed to obtain a bill of sale with a list of brands on the animals purchased.”Branding today also refers to a method of creating bonding between partners by creating a permanent marking that is like a cattle brand on the body of the collared submissive by the dominant master. Of course, that is in the BDSM context (bondage and discipline & sadism and masochism)
But the real importance of the branding industry can be seen in the movie industry’s film titles. It is not a coincidence that the word ‘brand’ first appeared in the cowboy movie, “Brand of the Devil” (1944). And it is probably pure coincidence that the word ‘brand’ appears next to the word ‘devil.’