Printers’ OrnamentsJuly 19, 2010
I haven’t had a chance to check that they are all ornaments (useful bits of illustrations unconnected with the text, used as a filler, commonly on title pages and chapter heads and ends) as opposed to devices (marks, usually in the colophon at the end of an early printed book, that were associated with a particular printer / publisher), but they are a fine selection, worth flagging up.
Soon I’ll be updating my notes for Historical Bibliography, which I teach in the Autum term, and seeing these reminds me how unfairly most of last year’s students felt printers’ ornaments are dealt with in creating quasi-facsimiles. From Esdaile:
“The ornament (a printer’s flower, to be distinguished from a device) is mentioned in brackets.” (p.267) and exemplifies “[Ornament]” (p.264).
Gaskell goes further and gives the dimensions: “[woodcut vignette ornament, 33 x 78 mm.]” (p.325), which is what I advise students to do in their practical assessment.
However, some students last year felt quite disgruntled at ignoring the content of some attractive woodcuts along the way. I’m sure they’d be pleased to know that someone, at least, is collecting them as things of beauty to be shared through the power of social media (flickr).