from Things To See In Springtime
A Totem is a simple form used as the emblem or symbol of a man, a group of men, an animal, or an idea; it does not use or refer to words or letters, so it is the same in all languages. Unlike the blaze it does not depend on its position for part of its meaning.
Among peoples that cannot read or write, each leading man had a Totem that he used, instead of writing his name. He put this mark on his property, and at length put it on his shield and armour to distinguish him in battle. Out of this grew heraldry.
Modern trade-marks are Totems though often spoiled by words or letters added. The Totem continues in use because it is so easy to see a long way off, and can be understood by all, no matter what their language. Most of the great railway companies have a Totem and the use of such things is increasing to-day.
Here in the drawing are some Totems seen daily in our towns. Doubtless you can add to the number.