Town Senator

Prominent residents of towns sometimes disported coats of arms even if they were not noblemen.


Ján Ladislaides, a Town Hall Senator (i.e., councilman) in Trenčín for a time, had his coat of arms.

A notary appointed to a town hall, Ladislaides's job when he drew the emoji, was the Habsburg Empire's best paid municipal position, with salaries commonly two or more times higher than those of the mayors.

Trenčín Castle



Ladislaides entered the year of his financial review to the left of his signature, the emoticon below it.


The notary's first name was Ján (Johannes, i.e., John in English) and his last name was Latinized (Hellenized) from the Slovak first name Ladislav. The original meaning of the last name was a person pertaining to Ladislav's family, who might have been his father, grandfather, or an earlier male ancestor. Latinization or Hellenization of their last names was popular among accomplished Slovak Lutheran families at that time.

17th-century Emoji

Q: Was the first smiley invented in Slovakia?

The world's oldest known smiley-like image in a document is in a financial record archived in Trenčín [TRENtsheen]. It was drawn in 1635.

The writer, Ján Ladislaides, was Notary to the Town of Trenčín, an officer customarily appointed by the authorities of the Habsburg Empire to monitor and provide legal support to municipal governments.


Ladislaides drew the emoticon next to his signature, which certified that he had reviewed the accounts of the Chamberlain of the Town Hall in 1635 and found them in order. Although the lip pattern in the image is not pronounced like in modern emojis, historians have concluded that it was the world's first known "smiley" in a written document to indicate the writer's positive feelings, the notary's satisfaction with the state of the Chamberlain of Trenčín's financial records.


The document with the oldest smiley is stored in the State Archives in Trenčín.