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Printed in Great Britain 
ly Tumbull &> Shears, Edinburgh 


HE subject of printers' ornaments can 
be defined in its stricter meaning 
as the decoration of books as apart 
from book illustration, the aim of 
both decoration and ornamentation 
being to heighten the attraction of 
the letterpress, although the one is 
not in any way dependent upon the other. 

In the following pages an attempt has been made to give 
an outline history of the introduction of ornaments into books 
printed by English printers and the subsequent growth and 
development of the art down to the present day. 

Printers' ornaments include head and tail pieces, initial 
letters, borders to title-pages or text, and decorative blocks 
such as those which were used freely by the sixteenth 
century printer, Henry Bynneman, and others. Printers' 
devices, being in the nature of trade marks, have no place 
in this volume, as, although decorative in themselves, they 
were not used simply for the sake of embellishing the page. 

Although it is generally believed that English printers 
were on the whole inartistic, and that many of the best 


English Printers' Ornaments 

designs were borrowed from foreign countries, there is no 
lack of good material for a work on English printers' 
ornaments from the fifteenth onwards to the nineteenth 
century. Many famous names of special printers come to 
mind in early English books of the sixteenth century, such 
as Denham, Bynneman, Wolfe, and John Day. 

It only remains to acknowledge the courtesy of those 
who have helped in the production of this book by granting 
permission for the reproduction of illustrations and for the 
loan of blocks. 

To Mr E. Gordon Duff and the Cambridge University 
Press for permission to reproduce the Machlinia border ; to 
Prof. A. W. Pollard, C.B., both for kindly suggestions and 
for the loan of illustrations ; to Mr C. Sayle of Cambridge 
University Library for permission to reproduce initials ; to 
Mr Ralph Straus for permission to use the block of the 
Baskerville ornaments from his book on the well-known 
printer, and to the Cambridge University Press for the loan 
of the block ; also to Messrs Bowes & Bowes for the loan 
of blocks; to Messrs Maggs Bros, for two whole-page 
illustrations, and to the Oxford University Press for past and 
present ornaments. 

For illustrations to the chapter on Modern Work we 
have to thank Messrs Charles Whittingham & Griggs, Ltd. ; 
Messrs H. W. Caslon & Co., Ltd. ; Messrs R. & R. Clark, 


Ltd., of Edinburgh ; the Trustees of the Kelmscott Press, 
and Messrs Emery Walker, Ltd. ; The Curwen Press ; The 
Morland Press, Ltd.; The Pelican Press; Messrs P. M. 
Shanks & Sons, Ltd., and Messrs Stephenson, Blake & Co., 
Ltd. The additional illustrations in the Edition de Luxe 
which do not appear in the ordinary edition are two 
especially representative lace borders of the sixteenth century, 
a beautiful ornamented page reproduced by kind permission 
of the Trustees of the Kelmscott Press in red and black, and 
one of the rare early coloured decorative titles. 



Xmas I923 



The Genesis of Printers' Ornaments . 


English Printers and their Ornaments 

Borders . .... 


Head and Tail Pieces — Small Ornaments . 


Head and Tail Pieces — Decorative Blocks . 


Miscellaneous Ornaments 


English Printers' Ornaments 



Initial Letters and Factotums ...... 87 

Modern Work ........ 101 


Descriptive Catalogue . . . . . . .119 

Borders ......... 149 

Head-pieces ......... 191 

Tail-pieces , . . . . . . . .211 

Ornaments ......... 229 

Initials ......... 239 

Modern Work . . . . . . . 249 

INDEX .... 287 

xi 1 


Referring to the books printed in Venice by Erhard Ratdolt in the years 
1476 and 1477, Mr G. R. Redgrave writes: "They are plentifully 
enriched with initial letters, sometimes printed in red ink, and they have all 
of them the gracefully designed title-borders for which the books of Ratdolt 
are so deservedly famous." 

Erhard Ratdolt and His Work at Venice, p. 13 (Biblio- 
graphical Society's Monograph, No. 1). 
" The typography and illustrations of Verard's books, though justly 
celebrated, are distinctly inferior to the best productions of certain Parisian 
printers — for instance Jean Dupre ; but in one respect he is without a 
rival — in the sumptuous illuminated copies on vellum produced for his royal 
and other distinguished patrons." 

Antoine Verard, by John Macfarlane, 1900 (Biblio- 
graphical Society's Monograph, No. 7). 
On a certain day in the year 1530 or thereabouts, the following 
dialogue took place between Robert Copland, a printer in London at the 
sign of the Rose Garland in Fleet Street, and a customer of his, who 
desired him to print a quaint conceit which he called the Seven Sorrows that 
Women have when their Husbands he Deade. 

The printer naturally wanted to see the manuscript, but the author 
replied that it was in his brain and not in his pocket. 


" I have no bokc, but yet I can you shewe 
The matter by herte and that by wordes fewe, 
Take your penne, and wryte as I do say 
But yet of one thyng, hertely I you praye. 
Amende the Englysh somewhat if ye can 
And spel it true, for I shal tel the[e] man 
By my soule ye prynters make such englyshe 
So yll spelled, so yll poynted, and so pevyshe 
That scantly one can rede lynes tow 
But to fynde sentence, he hath ynoughte to do." 

To which the printer replies thus : 

" Well, brother, I can not it amende, 
I wyl no man ther of dyscommende, 
I care no[t] greatly, so that I now and than 
May get a peny as wel as I can." 

This confession of Copland's, coupled with the fact that the author had 
a moment before expressed the opinion that a ' penny ' was enough to 
spend on books, shows how great was the gap that separated the Con- 
tinental from the English printer in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, 
and accounts for the paucity of borders and ornaments found in English 
books up to 1500, noted by Mr E. G. Duff in the chapter which he 
added to Mr A. W. Pollard's work on Ear/y Illustrated Books. 

Chapter I 

The Genesis of Printers Ornaments 

THE decoration of books had reached the summit of 
excellence a century before the art of cutting letters 
and printing with movable type was discovered. By 
the middle of the fifteenth century Europe had a store of 
books in all its great cities that for beauty of design, richness 
of colouring, and excellence of craftsmanship have never been 
surpassed, while in this country the meanest parish church 
could show one or more service books of this character, 
the gift of pious benefactors, some of which had been 
produced in the scriptoriums of Canterbury, York, or 

The first printers naturally turned to these manuscripts, 
not only for the models of their types, but for other hints — 
and what did they find ? They found that the scribes generally 
began on the second leaf of the vellum or paper, and that 
sometimes the vellum or paper was ruled with faint red lines 
for margins and for evenness of line. They found that the 
title of the work was put at the head of the text, and that the 
first page of the text was enclosed within a richly illuminated 
border, sometimes merely decorative or conventional, but more 
often consisting of exquisitely drawn and coloured pictures, 


English Printers' Ornaments 

illustrating, if it were a service book, scenes in the life of Our 
Lord or fragments of sacred history. 

They further found that at the commencement of the 
text was a richly illuminated initial letter. The blank spaces 
at the ends of paragraphs were sometimes filled with decorative 

The scribe, moreover, placed no dividing line between 
the various parts of the text. If he was beginning a new 
chapter he started at the top of a new page, leaving a blank 
space at the bottom of the preceding one, although, very 
rarely, illuminated head-pieces are found. Again, at the 
end he simply put the colophon, often a most illuminating 
little paragraph, not only notifying when and where he 
finished his task, even to the hour, but very often giving the 
name of the person who had commissioned the book, and 
returning thanks to God for giving the writer health and 
strength to finish it. 

The only other * ornaments ' they found were the 
paragraph marks, the reversed I or ^ still in use at this 
day, which can be traced back to the fourteenth century 
and perhaps earlier, and the cross or Maltese cross, generally 
met with in manuscript Books of Hours, and probably quite 
as old as the paragraph mark. 

All this the first printers followed as closely as they could. 
Their books had no title-pages ; they put the title above the 
first page of text, which they began as high up on the paper 
as they could. 


The Genesis of Printers'* Ornaments 

They sometimes put a border partially round this first 
page, and they tried as far as possible to imitate the richly 
illuminated initial letters — but with poor results at first. 
They left the spaces between the divisions of the work blank, 
but they generally put on the last leaf below the colophon or 
on a leaf by itself a woodcut embodying their name or initials 
or the sign of the house in which they carried on their trade. 
They also adopted the paragraph mark and the Maltese cross, 
which for many years remained the only small ornaments 
they possessed, unless indeed we can claim for the asterisk, 
or, as Luckombe called it, the ' asterism,' an equal antiquity 
with the other two, which is quite possible. 

This was in the infancy of the art ; but as it gradually 
emerged from its swaddling clothes, printers discovered various 
ways of increasing the beauty of the printed book. First 
they adopted a title-page, quite a modest thing at first, which 
for its brevity has been called a 4 Label ' title. Next they 
conceived that the appearance of the title-page would be 
improved if it had a border like the first pages of the old 
manuscripts. Then it occurred to them that it would look 
better if the printed matter were begun lower down on the 
page, leaving a blank space above, In course of time these 
blank spaces, and those which generally followed at the end 
of dedicatory epistles and such like, were ornamented, what- 
ever was used for that purpose being called by the names of 
head or tail piece. Occasionally the printers even went so 
far as to fill up the spaces at the ends of paragraphs with 


English Printers' Ornaments 

small ornaments, a wholly unnecessary labour which was 
soon dropped. 

For these and other purposes new designs had to be 
found, and amongst them, early in the sixteenth century, 
appeared the fleuron. Nature was the mother of this very 
beautiful little ornament — a common object of the roadway — 
a leaf torn by a rough wind from some tree, possibly a 
willow. Centuries before printing was ever dreamt of, such 
a leaf fell at the feet of one with a soul for the beautiful, 
who took it home and drew it and drew it again and again, 
placing it in various positions and finding a hundred different 
treatments of the subject, and so discovered its possibilities 
for artistic decorations. In this way it became the basis of 
most of the designs in Greek and Arabesque pattern books. 
The architect sculptured it in stone, the lace-worker turned 
it into a dream of delicate beauty, the bookbinder fashioned 
it into a tool to stamp his bindings, and in due time the 
printers cut it in wood and cast it in metal, and it became a 
stock ornament in every printing office. In a happily inspired 
moment the fleuron has been used as the title of a recently 
published magazine dealing with typographical matters, and 
in an admirable article contributed to its first number by 
Messrs F. Meynell and S. Morrison, which I trust they will 
forgive me for quoting, 1 they say : " What is common to 
them (i.e. fleurons), what makes the system, is the fact that 
the unit of decoration is itself an ordinary metal type, of the 

1 The Fleuron, a journal of typography, edited by Oliver Simon, 1923. 


The Genesis of Printers'' Ornaments 

varying type sizes, cast by the type-printer, set as type, and 
bearing, instead of a letter symbol, a formal design. . . . This 
simple tool was originally used on an Aldine binding as early 
as 1499, but not until 15 15 have the writers discovered its 
first usage as a printing surface. This occurs in the title- 
page of Tornandes' de Rebus Gothorum, printed by Miller 
of Augsburg in 15 16. . . . Variations of the stalk developed 
at Augsburg ( 1 5 1 7), Strasbourg (1519), Antwerp (1532), Paris 


In the course of the following pages it will be seen in 
all sections how infinite is the variety of design and treatment 
that this single ornament is capable of. 

It is interesting to find an 18th-century view of the 
origin and use of flower ornaments, and therefore I am 
quoting a passage from Luckombe's History of the Origin 
and Progress of Printing, 1770. "Metal flowers," says 
the author, " are cast to all the regular bodies of letter, from 
great primer to nonpareil included ; besides several sorts that 
are to the size of small pica. 

" Flowers were the first ornaments which were used at the 
head of such pages that either began the main work, or else 
a separate part of it. 

" Though they formerly had no great variety of flowers ; 
yet were the few of them contrived to look neat and 
ornamental ; being deep in body, and cast so that no 
bearings-off could be discovered, but looked as one solid 


English Printers' Ornaments 

" But with the growth of printing, and when letter-cutters 
strove to excel each other, they introduced also flowers of 
several shapes and sizes, which were received, and variously 
employed, till cutting in wood was come to perfection ; when 
that art was eagerly encouraged, and flowers not regarded. 
From that time till very lately, nothing has been thought to 
grace the first page of a work so well as head-pieces cut in 
wood ; of which some have such a coarse look, that even 
mourning rules would look neater, were they put in the room 
of them. 

" The invention of cutting in wood, is claimed by the 
Germans, though the Italians seem to have a prior right to 
stile themselves the authors. Nevertheless, though the former 
may have had their worthies of the said art, it is apparent 
that they have taken their knowledge with them to the 
grave. And this has also been the case in France, where 
the masters of the art of cutting in wood made a secret 
of their method of working and left no disciples of their 
abilities. Hence it was, that while Mr Jackson, an English- 
man, was at Paris, he was wholly employed in furnishing 
printers there with head-pieces and other ornaments of his 
drawing and cutting. But it being above thirty years since 
he went to Rome, it must be supposed that his work in 
France is worn down before this time, which may be the 
reason that flowers are come into fashion again in France. 
But this, perhaps, would not have been so readily effected, 
had it not been for the particular genius and fancy of a 


The Genesis of Printers'' Ornaments 

compositor at the King's printing-house in Paris, who restored 
the credit of flowers, by making them yield to every turn 
which is required to represent a figure answerable to the 
rules of drawing. Hence it may be guessed what great 
variety of florid sorts were used to exhibit cyphers of names, 
forms of crowns, figures of winged and other creatures, and 
whatever else fancy presented to this typographical florist. 
But it must be observed, that the King of France paid for 
this whim ; the compositor having a salary and free access to 
the King's founding-house, to order the cutting and casting 
every thing that could conduce to make his conceptions mature 
and the performance of them admirable. 

" Thus has the use of flowers been revived in France, and 
has stimulated the Germans to improve their fusil ornaments, 
whereby they have been instrumental to the considerable 
augmentation made here in flowers, by all which we shall 
be enabled to make flower-pieces of oval, circularly, and 
angularly turns, instead of having hitherto been confined 
either to square or to circular flowers. But it is feared, that 
head-pieces, fats, and tail-pieces of flowers will not long 
continue, either in England, France or Germany, consider- 
ing that the contriving and making them up, is attended 
with considerable trouble and loss of time ; and as no 
allowance is made for this, it will not be strange, if but 
few shall be found who will give instances of their fancy. 
But this might be remedied, were printers to recompense 
the compositor for his painful application ; and then to 


English Printers" Ornaments 

preserve the substance of his invention intire, for occasional 

"The use of flowers is not confined to ornaments over head 
pages only, but they serve also, each sort by itself, upon 
several other occasions. Thus they are used in miscellaneous 
work, where a single row of flowers is put over the head of 
each fresh subject, but not where two or more are com- 
prehended under the same title, which commonly have, 
another, by the same, &c, for their head. As therefore 
flowers appertain to heads, it ought to be a rule, that a single 
row of them should be put over a head that begins a page, 
be it part, chapter, article or any other division, in work 
that has its divisions separated by flowers. 

" Flowers being cast to the usual bodies of letter, their size 
should be proportionable to the face of the characters ; since 
it would be as wrong to use great primer flowers with long 
primer letter, as it is improper to embolden the look of great 
primer by long primer flowers. 

" Flowers being either of a rectilinear, angular, circular, or 
square shape, they are used accordingly in making them up 
for head-pages, of whom we have in this work introduced 
a few specimens. 

" But as the construction of flower head pieces entirely 
depends upon the fancy of a compositor, it would be pre- 
sumption in us to direct him in this point : we therefore 
leave the displaying of flowers to his own judgment, and to 
the variety of materials for this purpose. 


The Genesis of Printers" Ornaments 

" For want of flowers, references and other sorts belonging 
to a fount, are sometimes made use of to serve as well at the 
beginning as conclusion of work of a small size.'' 1 

Printers' ornaments then consist of two broad groups — 
(i) Small ornaments such as those mentioned by Luckombe, 
which we may suppose the compositor to have had close at 
hand in his case, and (2) ornamental or decorative blocks, 
either cut in wood or metal, of all sizes, which, as we know 
from the inventory of the printing office known as the Sun in 
Fleet Street in 1553, were described as pictures, and kept on 
a shelf in the printing-house. 

With regard to the first of these an interesting question 
arises : Did the early printer cast his own ornaments, or did 
he obtain them from a letter foundry ? — a question that 
involves the genesis of letter foundries. 

It is self-evident that, until there were enough printers 
at work in Europe to keep them going, letter foundries, as 
such, did not exist. Besides, we know from early descriptions 
and drawings of printing offices that they each contained a 
4 casting-house,' probably a small ante-room in which type 
could be recast, and therefore in which on emergency small 
ornaments could be cast. 

This is what Mr T. B. Reed says on the question 2 : 
" Respecting the developement of letter-founding as an 
industry there is little that can be gathered in the history 

1 A Concise History of the Origin and Progress of Printing, with practical 
instructions to the trade in general. London, 1770, pp. 287-90. 

2 T. B. Reed, A History of the Old English Letter-Foundries, 1887, p. 28. 

I I 

English Printers" Ornaments 

of the fifteenth century. At first the art of the inventor was 
a mystery divulged to none. But the Sack of Mentz in 
1462 and the consequent dispersion of Gutenbergh's disciples, 
spread the secret broadcast over Europe. . . . For the most 
part printers were their own founders. . . . But type depots 
and markets, and the wanderings of the itinerant typo- 
graphers, as the demands of printing yearly increased, brought 
the founts of various nations and presses to various centres 
and thus gave the first impulse to that gradual divorce 
between printing and type founding which in the following 
century left the latter the distinct industry it still remains." 
This is not very helpful to us. Taking the fleuron as an 
example, what seems to have happened was this. Without 
speculating as to when it made its first appearance in a book, 
we may safely say that its earliest form was large, and that 
this large form was as often as not cut in wood. But 
whether it was wood or metal, it was made by the printers 
themselves. In its smaller form it made its appearance as 
a metal type early in the sixteenth century, where unity 
of design and uniformity in size and general adoption point 
to a common source. 

As regards the second group of printers' ornaments — viz., 
engraved blocks — there is a conflict of opinion as to whether 
such blocks are legitimate printers' ornaments. There are 
those who contend that they are * engravings ' and not 
4 ornaments ' ; but however feasible such an argument may 
be in the case of one-piece borders or title-pages engraved 

1 2 

The Genesis of Printers'* Ornaments 

in wood or metal, all modern writers on printing include them 
as * ornaments.' The German writer, Butsch, reproduces 
many of them in his great work. Arthur Warren included 
them in his history of the Chiswick Press. To take a more 
modern instance, Dr W. W. Greg, in his article on Berthelet 
4 Ornaments ' in the Library, mentions several which were 
one-piece borders. Again, Mr McKerrow, in his work on 
Printers'' and Publishers' 1 Devices, refers (p. xlv.) to * ornament 
devices,' and instances three, the largest of which measured 
37 x 37 mm., and represented a two-tailed mermaid (259), 
and refers to it again as a common ornament bought from a 
type-founder. Other blocks reproduced in that book were 
assuredly not devices. If, then, these were ' printers orna- 
ments,' the borders and head and tail pieces composed of 
engraved blocks, whether of merely conventional designs or 
pictorial, or whether cut on wood or metal, are legitimate 
* ornaments,' especially when they were actually designed 
and cut for that purpose. 



Chapter II 

English Printers and their Ornaments 

IN the five and twenty years that elapsed from the 
discovery of the art of printing in Mentz, to Caxton's 
establishment of his press in Westminster, the printers 
on the Continent had by these means brought the decoration 
of the printed book to an astonishing degree of excellence. 
They could never hope to attain the results produced by 
the monastic rubricator or colourist, but they learnt to equal 
them in beauty of design and delicacy of treatment. For, 
in its way, the problem that faced the printers, in the 
ornamentation of the printed book, was rather more difficult 
than that presented to the illuminator. With the latter a 
wealth of colour might cover a multitude of sins ; but the 
printer had to see that his decoration did not overshadow his 
type, which after all was his chief pride, and that the 
decoration of the book did not distract the reader's attention 
from the subject-matter. Moreover, woodcutting was a 
very difficult art to learn. The mysteries of cross-hatching 
and shading were not to be mastered without many failures ; 
in fact, the master wood-engraver was born, not made. 

Such men as E. Ratdolt and N. Jenson in Venice, 
Pigouchet and Jean du Pre in Paris, Gerard Leeu, of 
b 17 

English Printers' Ornaments 

Gouda and Antwerp, and many others, were turning out 
books that for beauty of typography and artistic decoration 
have never been surpassed. It might have been supposed 
that with such examples before them Caxton and his con- 
temporaries in this country would have been spurred to 
emulation. English printers were in constant intercourse 
with Continental printers and booksellers, and had the 
opportunity of attending the great annual fair at Frankfort, 
where they could see all the latest productions of the 
Continental presses and where they could buy anything 
they wanted in the way of type, ornaments or binding tools. 
Yet so far were they from attempting to produce fine books, 
whenever such were called for — as Missals, Books of Hours, 
Psalters or Breviaries — they handed the work over to some 
foreign printer, with this result, to use the words of Mr 
E. Gordon Duff : " The poverty of ornamental letters and 
borders is very noticeable in all the English presses of the 
fifteenth century." 1 

There are several reasons to account for this. In the first 
place, in 1471, the year in which it is believed that Caxton 
began to learn the art of printing in Cologne, the decoration 
of books was in its infancy, and few of the printers in that 
city had, up to that time, issued any books in which decorative 
blocks, other than perhaps an initial or two, were used. But 
what is of more importance, we know that Caxton's chief 
object in, at a late period of his life, working in a Cologne 

1 A. W. Pollard, Early Illustrated Books, 1893, p. 228. 

English Printers and their Ornaments 

printing office, was to save himself the labour and weariness 
of copying by hand the various works which he translated 
for the pleasure of others. He recognized that by the art 
of printing copies could be multiplied easily and quickly : 
that they would be easier to read than manuscript, and, 
provided that type, ink and paper were of good quality, 
would endure indefinitely. Caxton's concern was to make 
his countrymen acquainted with the best literature — books 
of literary value, that would please readers, not by their 
prettiness, but for the matter that was in them. Hence all 
he wanted to know about printing was, how to set up type 
and how to ink and pull a clean and clear impression, and we 
know that he paid very little heed to decoration or ornament 
throughout his career as a printer. 

Wynkyn de Worde was probably only just out of his 
apprenticeship when he entered Caxton's service, and during 
his master's lifetime he would naturally conform to Caxton's 
rule and opinions in the matter of the make-up of the books. 

Lettou and Machlinia, both foreigners, who came to this 
country in 1480, were chiefly concerned with printing law 
books, which did not lend themselves readily to decorative 
work, and their office was not a school in which to learn it. 
Hence we should not expect to find Richard Pynson, who 
was on friendly terms with Machlinia, and possibly learnt 
the rudiments of the art of printing in his office, and who 
certainly succeeded him, getting much knowledge as to the 
use of ornaments from such a master. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

It is true that Theodoric Rood at Oxford used a 
decorative border as early as 1481, and that ten years later 
Caxton made a notable departure from his usual methods 
by surrounding every page of the Fifteen Oes with a border ; 
but these were solitary exceptions. 

The second reason for this was certainly lack of enterprise 
on the part of the English printers. This was largely due, no 
doubt, to the want of art training. The foreign printer had 
been taught the value of unity of design — a lesson for which 
the English printer had to wait until the nineteenth century. 
He designed his border to harmonize with his letterpress, and 
his initials to harmonize with his borders and beautify his 

But the English printers who followed Caxton would 
not concern themselves with these things. They were not 
actuated by the same motive that led Caxton to abstain from 
the use of ornament — that is, the belief that literature came 
before decoration. They viewed the matter from a purely 
commercial standpoint. To quote once again the words of 
Robert Copland, half a century later, in the Prologue to The 
Seven Sorrows that Women have when their Husbands be 
Dead, referring to the printing of the book he says : 

" I care not greatly, so that I now and then 
May get a peny as wel as I can." 

Consequently they took no pride in the appearance of their 
books, but used the first block that came to hand regardless 
whether it harmonized with the tvpe or not. 


English Printers and their Ornaments 

A third reason for this paucity of ornament in books of 
the fifteenth century was assuredly lack of encouragement on 
the part of the English buyer. Caxton and his successors 
worked for many royal and noble patrons, as King 
Edward IV., Henry VII. and Henry VIII., Margaret, 
Duchess of Richmond, Earl Rivers, the Earl of Arundel, 
some of whom, we may be sure, were acquainted with such 
Continental masterpieces as the Fior de Virtu, Mer des 
Hystoire, or the Hypnerotomachia, and many similar works. 
If they had called upon De Worde or Pynson to produce 
books of that kind the printers would certainly have done 
so, and we may therefore ascribe their absence as much to 
lack of support on the part of the reading public of that day 
as to lack of enterprise or want of skill on the part of the 
printers. Here again we may quote from the Seven Sorrows, 
where Quidam pronounced the opinion, " A peny I trow 
is enough on books." 

This theory receives strong confirmation from the fact 
that when a rich book-lover like Cardinal Morton was 
willing to pay for the work to be done, it was done, and was 
a credit both to the printer and the nation, for, leaving out 
of account the service books printed by foreign printers for 
the English market, Morton's Missal, printed by Richard 
Pynson in 1500, may be said to be the first artistic book 
produced in this country. 

Foreign influence as to design is there, no doubt — possibly 
that of Rouen rather than Paris — but the workmanship was 

2 1 

English Printers' Ornaments 

English. Pynson was, in fact, a far better printer than 
Wynkyn de Worde, and while we know that he obtained 
material from Basle and Rouen, he used it with better effect. 
Down to the date of Caxton's death the ornaments found 
in English printed books were singularly few. Caxton began 
to use paragraph marks with his type 4 and 4% i.e. between 
1480 and 1485; then in i486 he began to use type 6, in 
which the Maltese cross is found. These were the only two 
small ornaments he possessed ; but in addition to these one or 
two woodcut initial letters and one border are found in his 

Wynkyn de Worde, immediately after his master's death, 
obtained a fount of type and various blocks from a printer 
in Gouda, Govaert van Os. The type he used once, the 
blocks he used until they were worn out, and there is no 
doubt that he obtained border-pieces from other printers 
on the Continent. Julyan Notary procured decorative 
blocks from a foreign source before 1500; but it may safely 
be said that the paucity of ornament in English books 
referred to by Mr Duff continued to the opening of the 
sixteenth century. 

The Reformation gave a stimulus to book decoration. 
The great folio Bible and Books of Common Prayer were 
ordered to be placed in every church throughout the kingdom, 
and editions were put on the market as fast as the presses 
could turn them out. Their title-pages were surrounded 
by specially engraved borders, and every printing office in 


English Printers and their Ornaments 

Europe was ransacked to provide ornamental initials, of 
which great numbers were required. How far native talent 
was employed in this work we have no means of know- 
ing, but there is very little doubt that Richard Grafton 
and Edward Whitchurch did employ English workmen. 
Thomas Berthelet, who succeeded Pynson as King's printer, 
printed some notable books, but he seldom used illustrations, 
though most of his ornaments were good. Richard Tottell 
and Reyner Wolfe both used decorative blocks with the 
best effect ; but it was left to John Day, with the help of 
Archbishop Parker, to bring English Printers' Ornaments 
to their highest excellence. 

John Day was a native of the old town of Dunwich 
in Suffolk. His father is believed to have been a 'stringer' 
or bow-string maker. Nothing is known with any certainty 
as to his apprenticeship, but he is found in possession of 
a device previously in the hands of Robert Gibson, a 
protege of Cromwell, and he may have served his term 
with Gibson. 

The first heard of him as a printer is in 1546, when he 
was in partnership with William Seres at the sign of the 
Resurrection in Holborn. 

Their work was much as other men's and their printing 
material was no better. This partnership was dissolved in 
1548, Day moving to Aldersgate, and in the following year 
he printed an edition of the Bible which contained some 
good initials. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

But it was not until after the accession of Queen 
Elizabeth, and the appointment of Archbishop Parker as 
Primate, that Day's work attained its best. For Parker he 
cut a fount of Saxon types in metal which Mr Talbot Reed, 
in his Old English Letter Foundries, says was cast with 
such accuracy and regularity as was highly creditable to his 
excellence as a founder. So that John Day had a foundry 
at which he could have cast any small ornaments he required. 
Some of the blocks found in his books bear the initials I.D., 
but it has never been satisfactorily established that he cut 
them ; but there is no doubt that he obtained the aid of the 
best artists and woodcutters available. 

After Day's death there was a marked falling-ofF in 
the decoration of English books, and the work was only 
redeemed from mediocrity by such men as Henry Bynneman 
and Henry Denham, both of whom, as we shall see, used 
the fleuron with effect, and introduced some light and grace- 
ful head and tail pieces. Henry Denham also used a set 
of initials which Mr C. Sayle, 1 of Cambridge University 
Library, who has made this branch of ornaments his own, 
has declared to be " quite unlike any other work in England, 
and as high as the work of Sylvius, if not, indeed, in some 
respects still higher." Henry Denham was succeeded by 
Peter Short, and he in turn by Humphrey Lownes, and thus 
furnished one of the links between the sixteenth and seventeenth 

1 C. Sayle, " Initial Letters in Early English Printed Books" (Transactions of the 

Bibliographical Society). 

2 4 

English Printers and their Ornaments 

centuries and carrying the traditions of one century into the 

Another notable link between these two centuries was 
formed by the establishment of the Eliots Court Press. 
This was a syndicate of young printers, who upon the death 
of Henry Bynneman, the London printer, acquired most of 
his stock of letter and ornaments, and set up for themselves 
in premises in Eliots Court, near the Old Bailey. The most 
important members of this syndicate were Edmund Bollifant, 
Arnold Hatfield and Ninian Newton, all of whom had served 
their apprenticeship with Henry Denham. Later members 
of the firm were Melchisidec Bradwood, who printed the 
Eton Chrysostum, Edward Griffin the first and second, 
George Purslowe and John Haviland, who carried on the 
work of the firm until late in the seventeenth century. 

The only presses outside London in the sixteenth century 
were those of the two Universities. Oxford's second press 
was short-lived, and though two printers were connected 
with it — John Scolar from 15 17-18, and C. Kyrforth in 
15 19 — its output was very small, and the printers seem to 
have obtained their material from Wynkyn de Worde in 
London. The third Oxford press was set up by Joseph 
Barnes in 1585. Very little is known about this printer's 
history, but from what we do know he does not appear to 
have been a man who would concern himself about the 
ornamentation of his books. He opened his career with a 
disgraceful act of piracy and did his best to ruin a young 


English Printers Ornaments 

London printer. We are not surprised to find that his 
ornaments show no originality, and were either copies from 
those of London printers or were bought from them. 

The first printer in Cambridge was a foreigner, John Lair 
of Siberch or Siegburg, near Cologne, who called himself 
john Siberch. His first book, a speech of Doctor Henry- 
Bullock's printed in the early part of 152 1, has no ornaments ; 
but in Cujusdam Jidelis Christiani epistola, printed a month 
or two later, a couple of border-pieces, evidently from a Book 
of Hours, are seen on the title-page. Siberch also possessed 
some good initials and a border which will be dealt with in 
their proper places. His successors, Thomas Thomas and 
john Legat, would appear to have obtained their ornaments, 
excepting, of course, the block of the University arms, from 
London. At any rate they were all quite common in 
London books of the sixteenth century. 

The seventeenth century was a period of decline in the 
art of printing in England. During the first forty years 
woodcut ornaments are found in almost all books, and though 
woodcut borders to title-pages are sometimes met with, they 
gave place in the early part of the century to engraved title- 
pages of very elaborate character. The fleuron, worked up 
into borders, etc., retained its popularity. The Civil War, 
while it stimulated the printing of controversial tracts and 
news-sheets, killed all artistic effort. Some notable books, it 
is true, appeared during the Commonwealth, such as Dugdale's 
Monasticon Anglicanum, a handsome folio with engravings 


English Printers and their Ornaments 

by Wenceslaus Hollar, the same author's Antiquities of 
Warwickshire, while between 1654 and 1657 tne s ^ x f° no 
volumes of Walton's Polyglot Bible were printed, and it is 
said that the types for this last were supplied by the four 
licensed type-founders in London. 

But the ornaments found in these books consisted of a 
few initials and tail-pieces of no special merit or originality 
of design. The four type-founders in question could not 
make a living. Either for want of training, lack of capital 
or lack of encouragement, they could not compete with the 
type-founders of Holland, from whence came most of the 
type, and presumably the ornaments, found in English books 
for the next seventy years. Joseph Moxon, who in 1659 
added type-founding to his other professions, had spent some 
years in Holland, and his foundry was stocked with a large 
assortment of letters, mostly Dutch. James Grover was 
another type-founder at work in the second half of the 
seventeenth century, and he cast the types for the folio 
editions of Cicero and Herodotus, printed in 1679, for a 
syndicate of London booksellers. Both these works were 
amongst the best specimens of typography of that period, 
but the only ornaments used in the first were initial letters. 
In the Herodotus there is a tail-piece, to which I shall return 
when dealing with those ornaments. 

Before passing away from the work of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries a word or two must be said of the 
4 copyist,' who played a very large part in the production of 

2 7 

English Printers' Ornaments 

printers' ornaments. Whether the printers were their own 
copyists, or whether they employed some one else to do this 
part of the work, we cannot say, but quite early in the 
sixteenth century, and from thence onwards to the close of 
the seventeenth, almost every head and tail piece and initial 
letter was copied and copied again without limit, and it 
must not be assumed, without the most careful examination 
and comparison, that any blocks, found in books having no 
printer's name, show them to have been published by a 
certain printer. For example, Richard Jugge used some 
large initials in the various editions of the Bible that he 
printed, and no less than six varieties of those letters can 
be traced in the hands of other men, the resemblance between 
them being so close that only by putting them side by side 
and examining them with great care can the points of differ- 
ence be distinguished. Another instance is furnished by a set 
of initials used by the Eliots Court Press in the seventeenth 
century. These were probably copies of a set in the hands of 
Henry Middleton, while several other printers had letters like 
them, and the only way to distinguish between them is by 
counting the number of beads or circles in the framework. 

In the same way other ornaments were closely copied, 
and it is frequently very hard to distinguish between them. 

With the opening of the eighteenth century a marked 
change is noticeable in the character of the decorative blocks 
used by English printers. Borders to title-pages are rarely 
found, and, in place of the single block woodcut head and tail 


English Printers and their Ornaments 

pieces, that had done duty for a century and a half, were 
substituted metal blocks of a more ornate character, and 
this was the case also with the initial letters. It would be 
interesting if one could trace the causes of this change, but 
one can only surmise. I may be wrong, but I am inclined 
to attribute it to the influence of the Oxford University Press, 
and to the work for it of Michael Burghers, who between 
1680 and 1725 designed some very remarkable head and 
tail pieces. 

It would be interesting also to know whether the printers 
employed their own artists to design and engrave these 
blocks, or whether they obtained them from the type- 
founders. I offer my own opinion for what it is worth, 
and it is in favour of the first suggestion. judging from 
the type specimen sheets issued before 1780, the type- 
founders only supplied the smaller ornaments such as the 
fleuron, with suggestions as to their effective use. On 
the other hand, we find William Bowyer at one end of the 
century having a special tail-piece designed for him com- 
memorative of the great fire that destroyed his premises in 
1 71 2, and at the other end Thomas Bewick, the engraver, 
drawing and cutting suitable head and tail pieces to go with 
his illustrations. 

The nineteenth century opens the era of Modern work, 
which forms the closing chapters of this book. 



Chapter III 


THE earliest important ornament found in a book 
printed in England is a woodcut border to a title- 
page. Borders, then, shall be our first subject of 
study, but it has been decided that this study shall be confined 
as far as possible to built-up borders, i.e. those made up of 
small printers' ornaments, such as the fleuron, or such as 
consisted of two or more decorative blocks. It has been 
considered, and perhaps rightly, that borders of one piece, 
such as that which surrounds the title-page of the 1 56 1 
edition of Chaucer's Works, whether cut in wood or metal, 
belong rather to a history of engraving than to a work on 
printers' ornaments. 

Title-pages did not make their appearance on the Con- 
tinent until 1476, but once adopted their decoration by the 
means of ornamental borders quickly followed. The early 
Venetian printers, who were perhaps the finest artists in the 
world as regards the decoration of books, began by placing a 
strapwork ornament that went partly along the bottom and 
partly up the left-hand side of the first page of text, and this 
they were in the habit of printing with red ink. From this 
it was an easy transition to borders round title-pages, or 

c 33 

English Printers' Ornaments 

round the colophon and device on the last leaf, and the 
practice quickly spread over the Continent. For Books of 
Hours and Missals blocks were cut representing scenes from 
the life of Christ or other Bible subjects, but more decora- 
tive and lighter borders were designed for such books as 
Ariosto or the Decameron of Boccaccio. Splendid examples 
of such borders are met with in books from the presses of 
Aldus, Jenson and Ratdolt in Venice, of Pigouchet, Vostre 
and du Pre in Paris, and in the books of the printers at 
Lyons, Basle, Cologne and other Continental cities in which 
printing had been established. 

Nor was it long after Caxton's settlement in Westminster 
before borders appeared in England, although, as has already 
been seen, he cared for none of these things. The printer 
who introduced them was a foreigner, Theodoric Rood of 
Cologne, who set up a press in Oxford in the latter part of 
the year 1478. In 1481 he printed an edition of the Com- 
mentary on Aristotle's De Anima, made by Alexander of 
Hales, and this title was surrounded by a woodcut border. 

Only some copies of this book have the border, and the 
Bodleian Library has no copy in which it is found. Mr 
E. G. Duff, in his English Provincial Printers, etc. (Cam- 
bridge, 191 2), suggests that its insertion was an afterthought 
of the printer; but it is a curious circumstance that he used 
it again in John Lathbury's Commentary on the Lamentations 
of Jeremiah, which he printed in 1482, but again only certain 
copies of the book are found to have it. 



Fortunately a leaf of the Jeremiah is in the Bagford 
collection, 1 and from this I am able to describe it. The 
border is made up of four blocks, each of a different width. 
That at the top measures 199 by 34 mm., and it will 
be seen that the bottom piece is the largest. The design is 
the same in all four pieces, and consists of spirals of flowers, 
fruit and foliage amidst which are a number of birds. It 
makes a handsome border, the drawing and the cutting both 
being good, but it was probably of foreign origin. 

The next border of which we have any trace in an 
English book was in the hands of William de Machlinia, 
another foreigner who had settled in London. Between 
1483-85 he printed a small Book of Hours according to 
the Sarum use, of which only a few leaves remain. Seven 
of these are in the British Museum, and they show that 
some parts of the work were ornamented with a wood- 
cut border to each page, probably of French origin. The 
design is somewhat similar but much more simple than that 
used by Theodoric Rood, consisting of spirals of flowers and 
foliage only. This border passed into Richard Pynson's hands 
when he took over Machlinia's business. In the last year of 
his life William Caxton made a notable departure from his 
usual custom by placing a decorative border, consisting of 
four pieces, round each page of The Fifteen Oes, a collection 
of prayers intended to be issued with a Book of Hours. 

These blocks have met with unmerited censure in some 

1 Harl. 5915 (45). 


English Printers* Ornaments 

quarters. They appear to me to be both cleverly designed 
and to show no little skill on the part of the woodcutter. 
They were probably French work, as blocks similar to them 
may be seen in service books printed by Jean du Pre in 
Paris. As stated above, each border consisted of four pieces, 
each different, and no less than eight separate sets of designs 
were used throughout the book. Their main features were 
spirals of flowers and foliage, varied by the introduction of 
birds and grotesque animals, as though the artist had gone to 
some bestiary, as books on natural history were then called, 
for inspiration. 

In some of the smaller cuts a grotesque human face is 
seen, such as masons were fond of carving on the misericords 
of churches and cathedrals. In one instance a child is shown 
holding the spray, and the pose of the figure is quite good. 
Another of the blocks shows a winged figure kneeling on one 
knee and holding a huntsman's horn with both hands, and 
here again the attitude is not without grace. Again, take the 
drawing of the passion flower in the same block, which shows 
feeling as well as a desire for truth on the part of the artist. 
Moreover, he was a born humorist, as witness the block 
showing the gryphon and the bird, which reminds one of 
passages in Alice 'Through the Looking Glass. 

It was the printer's workman — for I decline to believe 
that Caxton set up these pages — not the artist who was at 
fault, and who was responsible for their clumsy and slovenly 
appearance. No attempt was made to space them out in 



order to make them meet, and not a few were put in upside 
down. Had the printer shown as much skill as the artist 
there would be little to find fault with. This border passed 
into the possession of De Worde, who used it as a whole, or 
parts of it, in several books. 

The next fifteenth century border found in English 
printed books occurs in an edition of the Hora ad usum 
Sarum, printed in 1497 D Y Julian Notary, Jean Barbier, and 
an unidentified printer whose initials were I. H., and who is 
supposed to have been Jean Huvin of Rouen. These three 
printers had set up in London the previous year, and the 
Horce in question was commissioned by Wynkyn de Worde. 
All that remains of this book is a fragment of four leaves 
preserved in the Bodleian Library, but they show that each 
page was surrounded by a border of printed ornaments. 
These were part of a stock of some twenty or five and twenty 
blocks which the printers would appear to have obtained 
from France, nearly all of them being afterwards used in two 
remarkable borders found in books printed by Notary early in 
the next century, and a description is therefore postponed 
until I come to that period. 

To the printer Richard Pynson belongs the credit of 
producing the most sumptuously decorated book that appeared 
in England in the fifteenth century. Pynson's excellent work 
as a printer had brought him to the notice of many learned 
men, and amongst his patrons was Cardinal John Morton. 
Morton was an Oxford man, and filled many high offices 


English Printers' Ornaments 

before he became Archbishop of Canterbury in i486. He 
was a lover of books, and in 1500 he commissioned Pynson 
to print a Missal that should equal in beauty of letterpress 
and decoration anything of that kind that had been produced 
on the Continent. We cannot doubt that he financed 
Pynson during the preparation of this work, and we may 
go even further and say that the decorative work seen in it 
is largely English. By the kindness of Dr Cowley, librarian 
of the Bodleian, and with the help of the Oxford University 
Press, a page from this splendid specimen of Pynson's crafts- 
manship forms the frontispiece to the present volume. The 
Missal was a small folio, printed in a bold, handsome type of 
black letter in double columns. Each page was surrounded 
by a border which, as will be seen from the illustration, 
consisted of four pieces. In some respects this border 
resembles that of Theodoric Rood, to which indeed Pynson 
may have gone for his model. On the other hand, the work 
is somewhat reminiscent of certain French service books. 

The bottom panel, with its rebus of Morton, was prob- 
ably of native work. Not only are the spirals differently 
treated to those in the side panels, but the flowers and fruit 
are also of a different character. The page is, in fact, as 
nearly perfect as the skill of the printers and woodcutter could 
make it. 

During the first eighteen years of the sixteenth century 
some interesting borders are met with in books printed in 



In the year 1503 Wynkyn de Worde printed an edition of 
iEsop's Fables in quarto, and he surrounded the title with a 
made-up border that is typical of the slovenly way in which he 
often did his work. The outer border consists of two pieces, 
evidently parts of what had at one time been one block, 
of which the left-hand portion retained its original form, 
but the other half had at some time been damaged, and a 
part of the lower corner had gone altogether, giving the 
whole an uneven appearance. Further, in order to fill up 
the space between the illustration at the top and outer border, 
two smaller pieces, but of different sizes and design, were 
inserted. The general design in these blocks is spirals of 
flowers and foliage, the flowers being apparently pinks, or 
carnations, and daisies. 

The printer used this border in exactly this same state on 
the title-page of Nychodemus Gospell, which he printed in 
151 1 ; but in the edition of 15 18 of that work the border 
had undergone a strange transformation. The whole of the 
top and the right-hand portion had gone, the top being 
occupied with a heavy block upon which the title was cut 
in white letters on a black ground, while the right-hand side 
was filled up with (1) A block from the Fifteen Oes ; (2) Four 
lozenges; (3) Two pieces of 'ribbon' ornament; (4) One 
piece of twisted ornament ; (5) A fleuron. 

The printer's device, which in the earlier edition is seen 
below the cut of the Crucifixion, is also absent from this, its 
place being rilled by another cut of the Crucifixion, evidently 


English Printers' Ornaments 

from a Missal or Book of Hours; but the printer either 
forgot (or did not trouble himself about the matter) that the 
device in the earlier edition was set horizontally, whereas the 
block of the Crucifixion, which he chose to replace it, had to 
be set upright, and although it was to all practical purposes 
the same size, placing it upright left a vacant space under 
the inner top block and a space all round, which he filled 
with odds and ends of small ornaments, including two 
lozenges and two six-petalled flowers. 

In the same year, 1503, Julian Notary printed the first 
of the two books alluded to above, a folio edition of the 
Legenda Aurea. On the last leaf he placed his device, and 
made a border for it with no less than eighteen of the 
decorative blocks that he had obtained from France. In the 
following year he printed an edition of St Albans Chronicle, 
again in folio. 

This work had no title-page, but in the place of one 
Notary arranged, on the recto of the first leaf, five of the 
cuts used in the text, and, to heighten their appearance and 
make the page more effective, he put round them a border of 
fifteen of these same decorative blocks. Altogether some two 
and twenty separate designs are seen in these two collections, 
and as, after Notary's retirement from business or death, they 
appear frequently in the books of other printers during the 
sixteenth century, it may be helpful if I tabulate them. 

In this list the letters L. and C. stand for Legenda and 
Chronicle ; the depth measurements are taken from the centre 



and not the ends of the blocks. All of them are crible, and 
each is enclosed within rules. 

1. Sprays of flowers and fruit, birds and a butterfly. 

1 20 by 12 mm. L. and C. 

2. Three monkeys and trees. 120 by 10 mm. 

L. and C. 

3. Spirals of flowers and leaves; two birds. 120 by 

1 1 mm. L. and C. 

4. Spirals of leaves and stems ; various animals ; in 

centre a man blowing horn. 1 20 by 11 mm. L. 

5. Spirals of foliage, birds, and various animals. 120 

by 10 mm. L. and C. 

6. Leaves only. 1 20 by 5 mm. L. and C. 

7. Wavy line with half flower. 1 20 by 6 mm. L. 

8. Spiral of leaves; two grotesque animals. 120 by 

6 mm. L. and C. 

9. Spirals of leaves and flowers ; three grotesque 

animals and butterfly. 120 by 6 mm. L. 

10. A thick wavy stem, flowers and fruit. 120 by 

6 mm. L. 

11. Sprays of conventional foliage; bird in centre with 

outstretched wings. 62 by 15 mm. L. and C. 

12. Spiral of leaves and flowers. 62 by 15 mm. L. 

and C. 

13. Man and two monkeys with basket; spiral of 

foliage. 62 by 15 mm. L. and C. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

14. Hunting scene; dog pursuing stag; forest of trees. 

62 by 15 mm. L. and C. 

15. Two figures mounted on fighting cocks and armed 

with quintain; spiral of foliage. 62 by 15 mm. 
L. and C. 

A variation of this is seen in a block used by 
Wynkyn de Worde at a later period. In this the 
two figures become two monkeys, their weapons a 
broom and a pitchfork and their steeds a dog and a 
goat. It is much more coarsely cut than Notary's 
and was slightly larger. This is one of a number of 
blocks with which De Worde surrounded his device 
on the last page of the Chronicles of England, which 
he printed in 1528. 

16. Thick spiral, with leaves and flowers; two figures, 

one naked. 62 by 15 mm. L. and C. 

17. Spiral of flowers and foliage, with a dog in centre. 

62 by 15 mm. L. 
1 8. Spirals of conventional foliage issuing from mouth 
and tail of grotesque animal. 62 by 15 mm. 
L. and C. 

19. Spiral of foliage and flowers. 120 by 5 mm. C. 

20. Chain ornament. 1 20 by 5 mm. G. 

21. Spiral of conventional foliage. 62 by 6 mm. C. 

(Description of England.) 

22. Spiral of leaves and flowers. 62 by 6 mm. C. 

(Description of England.) 



In another edition of this Chronicle, printed at a later 
date, either by Richard Pynson or Wynkyn de Worde, the 
printer, following the plan of Julian Notary, placed five 
blocks on the front page and surrounded them with a border. 
The largest block measures 1 1 8 by 99 mm., and represents 
a king on horseback riding through an archway. This is 
a variant of the block seen in the Polychro?iicon. At the 
top are two smaller blocks, one representing St George 
and the Dragon and the other the royal arms crowned with 
angels as supporters. Down the outer side of the large cut 
are two other blocks, the upper one possibly an odd cut 
from a Book of Hours, measuring only 40 by 25 mm., 
representing a priest at the bedside of a sick man ; and the 
lower one the soldier with the pike which De Worde had 
used in the play of Hickscor?ier. The border was made up 
by the repetition of five small ornaments — (1) The ribbon; 
(2) The cable ; (3) A variant of the fleuron ; (4) A flower 
or star ; (5) A Maltese cross. Altogether 1 26 separate units 
went to make up this very singular border. 

In 1504 William Faques printed the Statutes of the 
19th Henry VII. in folio, and placed round each page a neat 
but not very striking chain border, and in 1508 Pynson 
printed a quarto edition of Petrus Carmelianus with a title 
in a border, built up with a series of small ornaments some- 
what resembling two narrow strips of ribbon plaited at the 
ends, with a fleuron introduced here and there. As similar 
ornaments are found in books printed at Rouen, it is very 


English Printers' Ornaments 

likely that Pynson obtained them from thence, but they 
appear to have been a stock pattern, as Wynkyn de Worde 
had an identical set. 

A curious set of border pieces was used by Pynson in 
1509 in his edition of Sebastian Brant's Shyp of Folys. Each 
illustration throughout the book had a border piece on either 
side. The first two are seen on sig. b 5, and are not unlike 
those used by Caxton in the Fifteen Oes. They were not 
long enough to reach the bottom of the cut, so the printer 
filled the intervening space with a lozenge-shaped ornament. 
Throughout the remainder of the book he rang the changes 
on four blocks. Two of these measured 112 by 14 mm., 
and the design of one was a naked figure in the midst of 
flowers and foliage, with a bird at the top and some fabulous 
animal at the bottom ; the second showed spirals of flowers 
and foliage with three birds. The other two blocks measured 
112 by 12 mm. and were both alike, their design being a 
series of half fleur-de-lys alternating with halves of some 
other pattern and divided from each other by double white 
lines. All these blocks were crible and within double 

Another good example of a built-up border is seen in a 
volume of Year Books of the reign of Edward III., printed by 
Pynson in 15 18. Preceding the title-page is his large device 
(McKerrow, 44) surrounded by a border of various ornaments. 
At the top is a block measuring 118 by 9 mm., much the 
same in design as the one just mentioned above. At the 



bottom two much smaller blocks are placed side by side. In 
one the principal features are a dragon and a monkey ; in 
the other a man and woman, the man impaling a bird that 
is seated in the centre between two sprays of flowers. These 
look French in style, both are crible, and they bear a close 
resemblance to those in use by Notary. On the left-hand 
side of the device are two narrow blocks, each measuring 
65 by 11 mm. The upper one has a spiral of fruit and 
leaves, and the lower a human figure holding a leaf. As 
these two blocks did not fill up the space required to be filled, 
two pieces of the ribbon ornament were placed between and 
below them. On the opposite side are two more blocks, 
both very narrow, and they have printed badly. There is 
nothing striking in their design. 

Another of Pynson's borders is seen in the edition of 
Sallust printed in 1520. 

In 1523 Richard Faques printed Skelton's Goodly 
Garland in quarto. On the title-page is a cut of a student 
at his desk, and this has on three sides a border of printers' 
ornaments. The outer border was made up of what are 
probably variations of the fleuron, each unit being about 
13 mm. in length. The inner border of the two sides 
is made up of a series of units which, I think, is intended 
to represent the heraldic tincture ' Ermine.' They were 
evidently a reproduction on a very small scale of the half 
ornament that alternates with the half fleur-de-lys, in one of 
the blocks used in Pynson's Shyp of Folys. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

Again, on the last leaf of this book is Faques' device 
surrounded by a border built up with whole or portions of 
the lozenge ornament arranged within borders of the fleuron 
unit seen on the front page. These lozenge ornaments are 
slightly smaller than those in Pynson's hands. 

Altogether this is a rather effective border. Another 
example of a ' mixed border,' to use a gardening term, is 
found in the Greate Herball, printed by Peter Treveris in 
1526. Two of these blocks, the side pieces, certainly 
belonged to Wynkyn de Worde, who had used them in 15 19 
on the front page of the Orcharde of Syon. 

As it is manifestly impossible to describe in detail all the 
border pieces in use in the sixteenth century, I must confine 
myself to a rapid survey of the remaining seventy years. 
For the reason already given, I pass over the elaborate one- 
piece borders used in the various editions of the Bible and 
Common Prayer Book, and also all those elaborate archi- 
tectural borders seen in folio books, which began to make 
their appearance about 1,540. These last generally contain 
in their design the initials, monograms or device of the 
printers, whether as a mark of ownership or simply as 
advertisement is not clear; and the most important of them 
have been reproduced by Mr McKerrow in his valuable book 
on English Printers' Devices. But attention must be drawn 
to the delightful window frame borders found on the title- 
pages of some of the smaller books printed by Thomas 
Berthelet, particularly to that seen in the edition of the 



Modus Tenendi, printed in 1537, anc ^ tnat m Lyttletoris 
Tenures in 1545. 

Some very interesting borders are also found in the 
books printed by John Oswen, both at Norwich and 
Worcester, between the years 1548 and 1 55 1. While not 
altogether endorsing Mr Duff's opinion that they were " very 
much superior to the material used by most of the con- 
temporary printers," 1 they were certainly unlike anything 
found in other books, and were probably of foreign origin, 
though it would be rash to speculate as to what part of the 
Continent they come from. 

I take as an example the title-page of Certayne Sermons 
appointed by the Kinges Majestie . . . printed by him at 
Worcester in 1549. In this no less than seven distinct 
pieces are used — one at the top, two at the bottom, and 
two more on each side. The groundwork of all these is 
alternately black and white, sometimes arranged in bands, 
sometimes in triangular form, and there are the usual collection 
of birds, flowers and human beings. 

About the year 1570 English printers began to use 
the ' fleuron ' as a material for borders. What has been termed 
* lace ' borders were nothing less than a number of fleurons 
built up together in the shape of a frame, but the varia- 
tions in them are infinite. Sometimes they were used singly, 
sometimes in two rows, but the most effective consisted in a 

1 English Provincial Printers, Stationers and Bookbinders to 1557. Sandars 
Lectures, 191 1. Cambridge, 191 2, 8vo. 


English Printers Ornaments 

combination of four or eight units repeated over and over 
again to form a frame, sometimes left with rough edges, 
sometimes enclosed within rules or other printers' ornaments. 
Some of the most delicate and beautiful of these lace borders 
are to be seen on the title-pages of books printed by Henry 
Bynneman, Thomas Creede, Henry Denham and Thomas 
East, although they were adopted by all the English printers 
of the second half of the sixteenth century, and have continued 
in popularity to the present day. 

This review of the borders found in sixteenth century 
books may fittingly close with a notice of some used by Henry 
Denham. In the years 1581-82 he printed for Abraham 
Fleming two little duodecimos, one called the Footepath to 
Felicitie, and the other A Monomachie of Motives in the 
Mind of Man. Both these were devotional works that could 
be slipped into the pocket, and in each the pages were 
surrounded by a four-piece border of exquisite design. In 
the Footepath all the borders were the same, and they may 
best be described as a chain border, a square alternating with 
an oval and linked together by a ring, the top and bottom 
pieces being finished off with a star at either end. In the 
other book the design is made up of the rose, fleur-de-lys, 
and portcullis linked together with a delicate flower. 

All these borders passed into the hands of Peter Short, 
Denham's successor, and afterwards into those of Humfrey 
Lownes. They thus form an interesting link between the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as in 1602 another of 



Fleming's books, 'The Diamond of Devotion, was printed by 
Peter Short, and each page of this, like its predecessor, had 
a border, and these show variations from those used before : 
(i) a border of flowers in an interlaced design, seen on 
sig. M 2 and elsewhere throughout the book, and (2) a 
design with the letters E. R., i.e. Elizabeth Regina, with a 
fleur-de-lys at either end. 

In other respects the seventeenth century has little to show 
in the way of borders, and what it has are neither original 
nor striking. The engraved title-page came into fashion, but 
as these belong rather to a History of Engraving than a 
book on Printers' Ornaments, they are not dealt with in the 
present volume. What woodcut borders are met with had 
done duty in the preceding century, and were generally the 
worse for wear. But there are one or two uncommon ones 
to which I should like to draw attention. Amongst the 
Bagford fragments in the British Museum (Harl. 5927, 155) 
is a title-page to the second part of Thomas Scot's Pbilomytbie, 
or Philomythologie, with the imprint, " Printed at London for 
Francis Constable, 1616." This title is surrounded with a 
light and graceful geometrical border. None of the editions 
of 16 16 in the British Museum appear to have this second 
part of Philomythie. 

In 1 641 a curious border resembling a twisted skein of 
wool, printed white on a black ground, is seen on the title- 
page of the Rev. T. Denison's sermon, The White Wolf. 

The fleuron borders still continued to be popular, but 
d 49 

English Printers" Ornaments 

no such effective use was made of them as in the days of 
Bynneman and East. 

An interesting example of the combination of the two 
classes of ornament — i.e. the neuron and the decorative block 
— is found in the early part of this century. In 1 6 1 3 the 
printer John Beale, whose material and work were notoriously 
bad, printed the second edition of William Martyn's Youth ' s 
Instructor, and he made up a border to the title-page in 
the following manner: At the top he built up a gable end 
of various units of neuron, enclosed between printers' rules. 
Below this he placed a decorative headpiece, the double A, 
with two naked children. On either side of the title he 
built up a column of fleurons and other ornaments, and at the 
bottom he placed another decorative block in which the 
prominent features are two winged figures blowing horns, 
and two birds, evidently intended for peacocks, are perched 
on the filials at the bottom. The whole is a curious medley, 
and I know of no other like it. Both the decorative blocks 
used in this border, or copies of them, are found in the hands 
of other printers at this time. Other small ornaments came 
into use during the sixteenth century. The national emblems 
the rose, the thistle, and the harp crowned, each a separate 
unit, but generally used together ; the acorn, the fleur-de-lys, 
stars and various other forms to which it is difficult to give 
a name, are found, and towards the close of the century we 
come upon a border made up of ten printers' rules set close 
and printed in red and black, which has a novel if not very 



artistic appearance. The use of rules, not only on the title- 
page, but on every page of a book, dates back to the six- 
teenth century, and was probably a relic of the days when 
all manuscripts were rubricated, and it was adopted by the 
sixteenth century printers as an adornment for all manner 
of service books, particularly Bibles. 

In the eighteenth century borders of any kind are rare, 
but two are here reproduced : that to Dodsley's edition of 
Gray's Elegy , printed in 1 75 1 , and the border used by 
John Wilson of Kilmarnock, when printing the first edition 
of Burns' s Poems in 1786. 

Although, as we have seen, it was at Oxford that the 
earliest use of a border in English books is found, the 
University printers of that city in the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries were content to follow in the footsteps of the 
London men, and until we come to the work of M. Burghers, 
late in the seventeenth century, there is nothing that calls for 
special notice. 

Burghers' engraved title-pages do not come within the 
scope of this work, for reasons already stated. 

Cambridge has a somewhat better record : Siberch, the 
first printer there, had a woodcut border which is found 
in most of his early books. It is either German or Dutch 
in character. Its design is architectural, showing an arch 
supported by curiously decorated columns, with children, 
one of whom has wings, playing round them. Two other 
winged figures are seen on the arch, and two more in the 

5 1 

English Printers" Ornaments 

bottom compartment, are acting as supporters to the Royal 
Arms. As Siberch's sign was the Arma Regia, this bottom 
block is said to represent it. As a specimen of the wood- 
cutters' art this border is of no great merit ; it is a one-piece 
border, and it has been reproduced scores of times. But as 
being the earliest border used in Cambridge it calls for mention 
in this volume, and we give a reproduction of it. In the 
seventeenth century the Cambridge printers built up some 
effective borders with small ornaments. An extremely pretty 
one is seen round the title-page of the Clavis Apocalyptica, 
printed by Thomas Buck in 1632. In this instance thirty- 
nine units are used in a space of 1 10 mm. and placed within 
rules, giving the whole a neat and pleasing appearance. In 
1633 Roger Daniel printed an octavo edition of Dionysius, 
and used as a border to the title-page a flower perhaps meant 
for a rose, with stalk and leaves, measuring only 4x2 mm., 
and he placed the units in a double row. 

In another case the ornament looks like a fleur-de-lys 
rising from a slender stem with a leaf on either side. The 
unit measures 5x4 mm., and a double row is made with 

5 2 


Chapter IV 

Head and Tail Pieces — Small Ornaments 


THIS part of our subject is almost wholly unexplored. 
In dealing with borders we not only had the large 
collections of title-pages made by Bagford and Ames 
to draw upon for illustration, but also the studies of such 
able writers as Mr E. G. Duff and Mr A. W. Pollard. 
When we come to deal with initial letters we shall also find 
the writings of Mr C. Sayle and Mr Pollard and others of 
great value to us ; but in dealing with the ornaments known 
as head-pieces and tail-pieces we have no guidance. No 
collections of them are known, and no bibliographer has ever 
made them a special subject of study. 

Under these circumstances it will be best to deal with 
these two classes of printers' ornaments together, because 
although there were special blocks designed and cut as 
head-pieces and tail-pieces which were never used except 
in their rightful places, on the other hand the early 
English printers frequently used the same block without 

As their name implies, the object of these blocks or 
ornaments was to fill blank spaces at the beginning and end 
of divisions in the text, such as Dedicatory Epistles, Prefaces, 


English Printers' Ornaments 

Sections of a work, or Chapters. They were also frequently 
placed above and below a colophon. 

Whatever may have been the custom amongst Con- 
tinental printers with regard to the use of such ornaments, 
the sixteenth century was well advanced before they began 
to make their appearance in English books. 

So far as I know, no book of Caxton's exhibits any 
ornament of this kind. He followed the habit of the scribes 
and began his letterpress high up the page and did not 
leave a space that required filling up, and was content to leave 
other spaces unfilled. Both Wynkyn de Worde and Pynson 
had a varied assortment of blocks, which, as we have seen, 
they used as borders to title-pages or to their devices, but 
neither of them during the fifteenth century placed any 
ornaments at the head of the text or at the end of any of 
their books, and even as late as 1525 Pynson's folio edition 
of Froissurt was entirely devoid of head or tail pieces, and 
so was the folio Bible of 1539. 

This at least we may say, with confidence, that the use 
of some kind of ornament at the bottom of a chapter, or the 
end of a book, preceded the use of head ornaments, and we 
may go even further and say that the earliest form of tail- 
piece used by any English printer was a single fleuron of 
especially large size, and perhaps cut in wood and not metal, 
three of which arranged as a reversed triangle is frequently 
seen in books at an early date in the sixteenth century. We 
may date the adaptation of the Heuron for the decoration 


Head and Tail Pieces 

of blank spaces as between 1560 and 1570, and an exceed- 
ingly good specimen of its adaptability for this purpose is 
here reproduced. Bound up with a copy of the Book of 
Common Prayer, printed by Richard jugge in 1573, is, A 
Treatise made by Athanasius . . . in what manner ye may 
use the Psalmes. This consisted of four leaves only, the 
first of which is missing, signed A [1] — A iiij, and on the 
verso of A iiij is this elaborate tail-piece. The centre, as 
will be seen, is formed of a fleuron ornament surrounded by 
a ' lace border ' of other fleurons, and flanked at each of the 
four corners by two pieces of the same ornament. Below 
this again is a block of a semi-architectural character, with 
a human head in the middle and a lion's head at either 
end, with bunches of fruit in between — the whole design 
measuring 135 x 122 mm. The ornament in the centre of 
this tail-piece is a single block and not formed of separate 
units like the frame ; but it is none the less the fleuron 
worked into an arabesque design. These blocks had been in 
use some years and became very popular, and a few more 
that have been met with may be mentioned. Three found 
in Sophocles' Antigone, printed in 158 1, illustrate the manifold 
ways in which the fleuron could be treated. The first is 
triangular in form, while the other two are square but set 
cornerwise. John Day used several in the Cosmographical 
Glass e, 1559. Another fine example is to be seen on the 
title-page of John Bodenham's Garden of the Muses, printed 
in 1610 by E. A. — that is, Edward Allde — for John Tap. 


English Printers* Ornaments 

Both in shape and design this differs altogether from the 
others. In this instance it becomes an ornament, but it was 
no doubt used elsewhere as a tail-piece. 

Equally when built up to form head and tail pieces the 
individual fleuron was worked into bewildering variations : to 
attempt to mention or illustrate them all would be impossible ; 
but an example or two from the sixteenth century books are 
illustrated. The first is a single row of a single unit, set as a 
pair back to back. It is taken from sig. F 6 of Vautrollier's 
De Rep. Anglorum of 1579. It will be noticed that the 
original form of the fleuron — the single leaf and stalk — has 
undergone considerable variation, particularly by the intro- 
duction of a heavy cross-piece, perhaps intended as a develop- 
ment of the second piece of stalk, which was a feature of the 
early unit, but introduced with a purpose, as this example 
shows. The second and third of our illustrations are taken 
from the title-page of the first edition of Shakespeare's 
Love's Labour's Lost, printed in London in 1598, and from 
Waldegrave's edition of the Basilicon Doron, printed in 
Edinburgh in 1599. The contrast between the two is 
worth noting. The units in the Shakespeare measure 
9x6 mm. each ; portions of the stem are shaded, and they 
are arranged in sets of four and two. Waldegrave's fleurons 
were a shade larger, i.e. 9x7 mm. The arrangement is the 
same, but the stem, being entirely black, imparts a totally 
different appearance to the ornament. In another instance 
in this book the same units are used, but in this case they 


Head and Tail Pieces 

are placed horizontally, thus giving a complete alteration in 

A fourth example is built up of two units only — arranged 
as seven central groups of four, with a border top and 
bottom consisting of seven pairs ; and by leaving out the 
bottom row yet another change was wrought. Indeed, the 
possible combinations were endless. No wonder that the 
fleuron ornament has kept its place in the compositor's box 
until the present day. 

Another ornament used as a tail-piece in the sixteenth 
century may be best described as the 1 lozenge ' ornament. 
Like the ' fleuron ' it was apparently a stock pattern, supplied 
to all printers alike from quite the beginning of the sixteenth 
century. It is found on the Continent, and also in the offices 
of Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, Richard Faques, and others. 

Robert Redman used seven of them, no doubt part of 
Pynson's stock, to form a tail-piece at the end of his Y ear 
Book for Michaelmas Term, iith Henry VI., believed to 
have been printed about 1540, and with them another of 
Pynson's border pieces [B.M. 504, f. 16 (8)]. Another 
curious example of its use is seen at the end of An Knterlude 
called Lusty Juventus, printed by }ohn Awdeley, without 
date, but not earlier than 1560, where no less than twenty- 
seven half lozenges arranged as an inverted triangle are 
found beneath his imprint on the last page. 

An ornament quite common in the sixteenth century, 
which on occasion served both as head and tail piece, may 


English Printers' Ornaments 

perhaps be described as a ' ribbon ' ornament, as in appear- 
ance it resembles two pieces of ribbon interlaced into circles 
and squares, a five-pointed star being placed in the centre of 
the circles and a flower in the centre of the squares. This 
is all one piece, and was probably metal and could be 
cut to any length. In 1579 it is found in a book printed 
by Vautrollier. During the seventeenth century the small 
ornaments already noticed as used for borders to title-pages — 
the star, the rose, the crown, the thistle, the tieur-de-lys and 
the acorn, cast in various sizes — shared with the Heuron the 
duty of supplying head and tail pieces, or dividing sections 
of a book. 

In 1662 we come upon another example — an urn with 
a flower growing in it, used in the Liber precum publicarum, 
printed in 1662, where at the head of the licence fifteen of 
them are used at the head of the page and again on the verso 
of the same page ; but, whether purposely or not, in each 
case units of a different design are introduced. 

Some further varieties of these small printers' ornaments, 
not easily describable — they may be meant for flowers or urns 
or anything else — are found in a volume of Parliamentary 
Declarations, etc., of the time of the revolution. When 
they happened to be new, or were used by a careful printer, 
these small ornaments were effective, but when, as too often 
happened during the period between 1640 and 1660, they 
were old, badly arranged, and badly inked, they often spoilt 
the book or document in which they were used. By the 


Head and Tail Pieces 

time the eighteenth century was reached, the compositor's 
box had become crowded with small printers' ornaments. 
Like all other printers' materials at that time, these were the 
production of type-founders in Holland. But in 1720 
William Caslon, an engraver of gun-locks, was introduced to 
the printers William Bowyer and John Watts, and was by 
them taken to the foundry of James in Bartholomew Close. 
Bowyer and Watts also advanced him sums of money to 
enable him to set up as a type-founder. Caslon's superiority 
over all other letter-cutters, English or Dutch, was quickly 
recognized. The shape and proportion of his Roman 
letter, combined with its wonderful regularity in height, was 
such as had not been seen in England since the days of 
Pynson, while his italic founts were also remarkable for their 
beauty and regularity. 

That it was printed with Caslon's letter was the best 
advertisement a book could have in the eighteenth century, 
and his foundry soon eclipsed all others in this country. 1 

His first specimen sheet was issued in 1734, but it shows 
only five examples of fleuron ornament and two rows of 
stars. The first of these examples was not a common pattern, 
although it may have had a predecessor in the seventeenth 
century. The other four showed no originality — they had 
been in use for a couple of centuries — but they were cast 
clearly. If these were all the flowers which Caslon thought 
it necessary to show after fourteen years' experience, the 

1 Two Centuries of Type-founding. [By J. F. McRae.] 1920. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

inference is that he was more concerned with the cutting of 
type-faces than ornaments. In the specimen book of 1764 
the flowers fill no less than four pages, and in addition to 
the fleuron, which is shown in many sizes and some new 
variations, the type-founder had introduced several new 
designs, such as minute circles that could be arranged in 
many decorative ways — an hour-glass and skull and cross- 
bones, no doubt for use as head or tail pieces in funeral 
sermons — and had also, in one instance at least, reverted to 
a fifteenth century ribbon pattern. Many single-line castings 
were also shown. In the specimen book of 1785 many 
new designs and their possibilities as head and tail pieces 
were illustrated by artistic and novel arrangement of the 
various ornaments, some of which we know were adopted 
by printers throughout the country. Further specimen books 
were issued by the firm from time to time. 

Some examples of the use of small ornaments in the 
decoration of books in the eighteenth century in which 
Caslon's influence is evident are here shown. The first is 
seen on sig. B of the Rev. William Gardner's Sermon, 
preached at the Assizes at Kingston-upon-Thames on 
August 4, 1726, and is an extremely effective combination of 
several units of different design surrounded by what may 
best be described as a bead border, the beads being arranged 
in groups — an oval between two round — and each group 
being separated by a star. [B.M. 226, f. 3 (9).] 

The next, which shows several new forms of the treat- 


Head and Tail Pieces 

ment of the fleuron as a decorative unit, is also remark- 
able for the very artistic way in which they are arranged, 
the whole forming what, to use the language of that day, 
would probably have been called a ' very elegant ' head- 
piece. It is seen at the head of the text of A Sermon 
preached at Stafford at the Assises held there on August 22nd, 
1756, by the Rev. Joseph Crewe. In neither of the above 
cases do we know the printer. [B.M. 225, f. 3 (5).] 

Finally we may notice one or two from a little book 
called The Lover's Manual, published by a country book- 
seller, S. Silver of Sandwich, but printed in London, possibly 
at the same press as the preceding, as the ornaments are very 

John Baskerville, who shared with Caslon the merit of 
being one of the best type-founders of the eighteenth 
century, made a very sparing use of ornaments ; but such 
as he did use we may suppose him to have cast in his 
own foundry. Messrs Straus & Dent in their life of this 
eminent printer have reproduced fourteen of his ornaments. 
Nos. 14 and 4 differ only as regards size. This flower orna- 
ment with circle in the centre was a departure from the 
old model. Indeed, all these ornaments are light, graceful, 
and in keeping with the character of the fine types of which 
he was the founder. Nos. 6 and 7, reproduced by Messrs 
Straus & Dent, are very beautiful variations of the old- 
fashioned fleuron, the nearest approach to which are the 
feathery examples, Nos. 2 and 8, which, however, lack both 


English Printers" Ornaments 

the hrmness and the grace seen in those of the sixteenth 
century. The ribbon ornament, No. 5, seems to be a survival, 
or perhaps revival would be the better word, of the ornament 
found in the hands of Pynson and Wynkyn de Worde. 

Altogether the printers of the eighteenth century could 
obtain a wealth of small ornaments such as they had never 
possessed before. 




Chapter V 

Head and Tail Pieces — Decorative Blocks 

IN the foregoing chapter I have dealt with head and tail 
pieces, more or less built up of small single printers' orna- 
ments. These did all very well until the advent of 
something better ; but the English printer had to wait until 
between 1570 and 1580 before what may be termed legiti- 
mate head and tail pieces — that is, blocks of a decorative 
or pictorial design, especially cut for the purpose — were put 
in his hands. These ran to all sizes, from blocks measuring 
139 by 34 mm. for head-pieces in folio books to others 
measuring only 47 by 12 mm., these last being used 
independently as head or tail pieces, or as ornaments for the 
title-page. The larger ones are rarely found used elsewhere 
than in their rightful places. 

Before their advent, any odd blocks that had done duty in 
books of hours or primers on the Continent, and had been 
bought by some English printer on his annual visit to the 
Frankfort Fair, were pressed into service as head and tail 

One of the earliest examples of the use of an odd block 
as a tail-piece is found in Middleton's edition of the Statutes 
of the 7th Henry 6th, printed between 1530 and 1540, at 


English Printers' Ornaments 

the end of Michaelmas term (sig. K 2), where a geometrical 
and architectural block, measuring 119 by 19 mm., is very 
effective. This had previously belonged to Wynkyn de 

Another may be seen at the end of A Newe Booke — An 
Exhortation to the Sicke, printed by John Oswen at Ipswich 
in 1548, where above and below the imprint are the two 
blocks here reproduced. They were clearly not specially cut 
for the purpose — indeed, I have a shrewd suspicion that I have 
seen the lower one in books printed by Robert Wyer. Nor 
can we accept the two blocks placed above and below the 
colophon to the Sarum Missal, printed by Kingston & Sutton 
in 1555, as genuine head and tail ornaments. They obviously 
belong rather to the class of border-pieces from some foreign 
book of hours. 

An example of the miscellaneous tail-pieces to be 
found in sixteenth century books was brought to my notice 
recently by Miss Murphy. It turned up unexpectedly in the 
second edition of Harman's Caveat or Warneing for Common 
Cursetors, vulgarly called Vagabones, printed by William 
Griffith in 1567, and it would, I think, be difficult to 
match it. 

The centre is a cut of the Virgin and Child forming the 
centre of a rose. Outside this is a circle of beads, and 
outside that again a circle of flowers on a single stem w r ith 
five roses placed at equal distances round the circle. The 
whole measures 95 mm. in diameter. It may be one block, 


Head and Tail Pieces 

and the association of the rosary, the beads and the picture 
of the Virgin seems to point to its having been cut for some 
Roman Catholic book. At the end of the Preface is a good 
tail-piece of arabesque design. 

Specially designed decorative head and tail pieces began 
to make their appearance in English books about the year 
1570. One of the earliest I have met with is a head-piece 
found in the hands of Thomas Vautrollier, whose printing 
office was one of the best equipped in England. It appears 
on sig. A of Chaloner's De Rep. Anglorum instauranda libri 
decern., a quarto printed in 1579. [B.M. 1070, m. 31.] 

The block measures 102 by 22 mm. The design is an 
elaborate one, the main feature being two spirals that look 
like capital A's. On these are resting two naked boys with 
a bowl between them containing fruit and flowers. Below 
is a grotesque head. From these large spirals issue smaller 
ones with a squirrel on one side and a rabbit at the other, 
and two filials of grotesque animals at each of the bottom 

This may be a metal block, but it was light and graceful 
in treatment, and was in every way suitable to the beauti- 
fully printed book in which it is found. In another book, 
M. T. Ciceronis Epistola, printed at the same press in the 
same year, is found Vautrollier's well-known tail-piece of 
the Gorgon's head, with his initials T. V. on either side. 

There were, no doubt, similar blocks in use in folio 
books before 1580, but the earliest I have met with is the 


English Printers" Ornaments 

artistic head-piece seen in sig. A of Bynneman's edition of 
Morelius' Verborum Latinorum, printed in 1583. In the 
centre we see a figure holding in each hand a bird with long 
tail feathers. On either side is an archer with a drawn bow 
and arrow, with rabbits sitting behind him, while at each 
of the lower corners is an animal with very long and curving 
horns. This block measures 139 by 34 mm. It was after- 
wards in the hands of the Eliots Court Press, and can be 
traced in use until about 1650. 

Before the close of the sixteenth century specially designed 
head and tail pieces of all sizes were in general use, and 
continued so throughout the following century. When I 
add that every good block was immediately copied, and 
frequently copied so faithfully that it needs almost micro- 
scopical examination to discover the difference, some idea 
will be gained of the wide field of illustration thrown open 
in this branch of our subject. In the dainty little devotional 
works of Abraham Fleming, already alluded to in my 
chapter on Borders, are found several delightful little head 
and tail pieces, all of which passed into the hands of Henry 
Bynneman, and from him to the Eliots Court Press. 

Holinshed's Chronicles, first printed in 1577, also contain 
some very fine examples. At the head of the Dedication 
to the first volume is seen the block with a bear sitting 
on his haunches holding spirals of foliage. Two dogs, two 
men with staves, and two serpents are also parts of this 
design. It seems possible that these large folio head-pieces 


Head and Tail Pieces 

were lent by one printer to another, as this one is found 
in many books. Again, at the head of the " First Booke 
of the Historie of England," in these Chronicles, is a semi- 
architectural head-piece with the Royal Arms in the centre. 
At the head of sig. K 6 in the " Chronicles of Ireland " is 
another good decorative block, which is sufficiently like that 
at the head of the Dedication to the first volume to suggest 
a common origin, as indeed do those in use by the Eliots 
Court Press. Another good example of these blocks is 
that found at the head of Geoffrey Fenton's History of 
Guicciardini, printed by Richard Field in 1599. The same 
spirit seems to run through them all, and they deserve more 
notice than they have hitherto received. The charming 
little tail-piece, showing a boy playing two drums, is also 
from the Chronicles, and is found at the end of the Preface 
to the " Chronicles of Ireland " in the third volume. In some 
respects it is reminiscent of the eighteenth rather than the 
sixteenth century. At the opening of the seventeenth century 
the decorative blocks used by the Eliots Court printers call for 
special notice, and by the kind permission of the Bibliographical 
Society one or two of those that appeared in my article in 
The Library a short time ago are here shown. It was 
not possible at that time to illustrate any of the head-pieces 
that appeared in books printed in folio. No such restriction 
bars us now, and consequently three of these characteristic 
head-pieces from an edition of the Workes of Homer, printed 
at that press, are here shown. The first, which measures 

7 1 

English Printers' Ornaments 

142 by 36 mm., consists of spirals of flowers, radiating 
from a central stem, with caterpillars and various winged 
insects dotted all over it. This was also used in the folio 
edition of Bishop Jewell's Works, published by John Norton 
in 1609, and two years later M. Bradwood, who succeeded 
Arnold Hatfield in the management of the office, used it in 
Oueen Anne's New World of Words, and as late as 1639 
it was in the hands of Edward Griffin the second. 

The second of these large head-pieces has as its design 
the sun in glory and four horsemen between sprays of 
flowers and foliage. It is found again in the folio edition 
of Montaigne, printed by Bradwood, and was in constant 
use down to the year 1638. 

The third, in which the principal features are two large 
cornucopias and two lions holding shields, was also used 
by all the Eliots Court printers down to 1640, and there 
was also another block something like it in the hands of 
other printers. 

Passing to the smaller blocks of this press, one of the 
most artistic is that of the two cherubs blowing horns, 
used as head-piece in A Copy of a Letter written by E. D., 
a pamphlet printed in 1606 by M. Bradwood. It was of 
Continental origin, and it has served as a model for printers 
down to our own day, a variation of it being amongst those 
in use by the Chiswick Press. 

In the same book is found the ' fleur-de-lys head- 
piece. It was used by all the Eliots Court printers 


Head and Tail Pieces 

without exception; but Felix Kingston, another London 
printer, had a block so similar that it is almost impossible 
to tell one from the other. It makes a very handsome 

The other two examples here shown are also from A 
Copy, etc., and both were in use, the one as late as 1644 
and the other to 1650. The one with the squirrels was 
copied repeatedly, and several variants of it are met with 
in other books. The blocks of the national emblems when 
used together formed an effective head-piece, but they were 
sometimes used in pairs to form side-pieces to other blocks. 
There was also a smaller set without the decorative spirals. 

When George Purslowe joined the firm he brought with 
him several ornaments that had belonged to Simon Stafford, 
and in 1620, when he printed the Rev. Elnathan Parr's 
Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans, he used as a head- 
piece a block which is found in the hands of Henry 
Bynneman as far back as 158 1, and it was a curious 
medley of part of one of Simon Stafford's and part of 
the ' fieur-de-lys ' block, and shows that the designs of 
both those blocks had their origin in sixteenth century 

These Eliots Court head-pieces are very typical of seven- 
teenth century work ; but such printers as Robert Barker, 
Adam Islip, Humfrey & R. Lownes, Miles Fletcher, and 
others had a large and varied stock, from each of which an 
equally good collection might be made. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

A good decorative head-piece was that used by H. 
Lownes in |. Dowland's Pi/grimes Solace, printed in 1612. 
embodying the national emblems. 

Passing over the period of the Revolution and Common- 
wealth, in which most of the blocks used were old ones, 
a word or two must be said of the work done by Mr 
Burghers at Oxford during the last years of the seventeenth 
century and the opening years of the eighteenth century. 

It is somewhat remarkable that so little attention has 
been paid to M. Burghers and his work by Oxford students. 
For upwards of fifty years he must have been a well-known 
figure in the University town. For many years he designed 
the allegorical illustration for the Oxford Almanac. There is 
no question as to his ability both as artist and engraver. Yet 
Bryan, in his Dictionary of Engravers, dismisses him 
curtly without even mentioning the period during which 
he worked, and refers to his work as ' stiff and taste- 
less.' The Dictionary of National Biography accords him 
just twenty-three lines, and finishes off by saying, " He 
died, according to Hearne's Reliqua, on the 10th January 
1726-7." As a matter of fact, Hearne gives the best 
memoir of him, but has very little to say about the vast 
amount of work he did and his skill as an artist. On 
these points all he says is, " He was looked upon as the 
best general engraver in England, and had always till very 
lately, within these last two or three years, a vast deal of 
business, so that being withal a very industrious man, he 


Head and Tail Pieces 

got a vast deal of money and purchased a pretty estate in 

This is a poor account of a man whose work was not 
confined by any means, as the Dictionary of National 
Biography would lead one to think, to the engraving of 
portraits, but who executed engravings for many books. 
None of his biographers call attention to the wonderful 
series of head and tail pieces and initial letters which Burghers 
designed and engraved for the folio edition of Clarendon's 
History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England . . . 
printed at the Theater, An. Dom. MDCCII. (-IV.). 

Amongst the many things collected by John Bagford 
were specimens of Burghers' work. 1 Unfortunately he gave 
no clue as to what books they appeared in, but some of them 
were from this work, and the beauty of the designs no less 
than the excellence of the engravings places them in the very 
first rank of English Printers' Ornaments. None of these 
deserve Bryan's censure. They are not only spirited ; but 
they are worthy of the great work in which they appeared. 
No. 234 in Bagford's volume is a head-piece, the design of 
which is classical in treatment — spirals of flowers and foliage 
of a highly ornate character springing from a central stem, 
which consists of the body of a child emerging from foliage 
with his hands uplifted in terror of the two lions who are 
apparently coming for him on either side. This is the head- 
piece to the thirteenth Book, vol. iii., p. 285. No. 207 in 

1 Harl. 5929. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

the same volume was evidently designed for an Knglish book 
on Science, printed about 1696. In the centre is seen 
Britannia, with shield and trident, looking out over the sea. 
Beneath her is the date 1696, the whole being surrounded 
by a laurel wreath. On either side are open books, that 
on the left apparently dealing with Euclid and that on the 
right with architecture. Other books and rolls and mathe- 
matical instruments have also a background of laurel, and 
the design is surrounded by a decorative frame. 

The tail-pieces designed by Burghers are even more 
splendid than the head-pieces. The two we have chosen 
tor illustration are entirely different in character, but are 
both remarkable for their grace and beauty. No. 310 in 
Bagford's collection consists of spirals emanating from a 
central sun-like flower. These dancing figures and two 
birds form part of the design, which measures no less than 
152 by 120 mm., and has the signature " M. Burge, 
sculp." at the bottom. No. 322 is a classical design figuring 
Hercules. Both appeared in Clarendon's History. 

With the opening of the eighteenth century the character 
of these decorative head and tail pieces other than the 
fleuron changed entirely. 

In the first place the old wood block was superseded by 
metal ones, and no doubt the change gave greater clear- 
ness of impression and longer life. Then with Caslon's 
advent as a type-founder native talent began to assert 
itself; but the alteration went even further than this, and 


Head and Tail Pieces 

heralded a change in taste on the part of printers, who 
seem to have been captured by a different school of de- 
signers altogether. We suspect that this was largely due 
to the influence of the Oxford engraver, M. Burghers. 
Whether the blocks produced during this century were or 
were not more artistic than those they supplanted must be 
left to experts to decide. My work is to record the change 
and show its development. 

In 171 2 William Bowyer printed a great folio, 
Atkyn's Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire, in 
which we find a large head-piece signed I. L., which is 
a good example of the head-piece that had come into 

The centre shows a basket piled with fruit, with some 
kind of drapery hanging from it and the letters I. L. f. 
below this. On either side of the basket the ornament 
takes the form of sprays or spirals of flowers or foliage, 
somewhat resembling the designs of M. Burghers at 
Oxford. Indeed, baskets of fruit and flowers became a 
feature in nearly all head and tail pieces of the eighteenth 
century, In the same volume is a tail-piece which is 
equally typical of eighteenth century work. 

Some very beautiful examples of the decorative head 
and tail pieces of the early eighteenth century are found in 
the octavo edition of Lucretius' De rerum natura, printed 
by J. Tonson and J. Watts in 17 13. While some of these 
head-pieces are pictorial, they are in some measure called 


English Printers' Ornaments 

forth by the text, and perhaps more in the nature of 
illustrations ; the tail-pieces have a character of their 
own, especially the one at the end of the fourth book 
and that at the end of the sixth book, and the final 

Another fine head-piece is seen in the first volume of 
the Works of Sir William Temple (sig. B ij), printed in 
folio in 1720, and is matched by the tail-piece on the 
verso of B 3 in the second volume. Another example of 
a signed head-piece occurs on a block found in the octavo 
edition of the Works of George Farquhar, published by 
Knapton and other booksellers in London in 1728. 
Whether it is meant to be emblematical or not it is hard 
to say, but in the foreground is seen a lion pointing with 
his right foreleg to a plant in front of him, two of the 
leaves of which bear the initials F. H. and M. M. Round 
about are several trees. The work of F. H. was evidently 
a favourite as late as 1738, when we meet with another 
example of it in a sermon printed for J. Roberts in 
Warwick Lane. In this case not only is the block larger, 
but the design consists of vegetable growths, ornately treated 
with a vase of flowers in the middle and a bird with out- 
stretched wings at the top. 

The various parts of James Thomson's poem on Liberty, 
printed in 1735, have head-pieces, none of them of great 
merit, of which one is here shown as a contrast with that 
just noticed, while, as an example of how thoroughly bad 


Head and Tail Pieces 

some eighteenth century work could be, we show a tail-piece 
representing a fountain, found in a volume of translations 
of the Odes of Horace, printed in 1743. [B.M. 1 1 375, 
c. 17.] 

The provincial printers probably stocked themselves from 
the London foundries, and consequently their ornaments 
followed the prevailing fashion. We have already seen 
specimens of the work of M. Burghers at Oxford, and 
while the sister University cannot show anything quite so 
gorgeous, the printers in Cambridge had a good selection, 
many of which are shown in R. Bowes' Catalogue of 
Books printed at Cambridge from 1521 to 1893. From 
these has been chosen a head-piece used by Cornelius 
Crownfield between 1698 and 1743 as being typical of the 
period, and two tail-pieces used by the same printer [Nos. 
81, 82 in that Catalogue], while a tail-piece from a work 
by an unknown printer illustrates once again the innumer- 
able ways in which the fleuron could be treated. In this 
case twenty-eight units are arranged so as to form an 
inverted triangle. 

Moving further northwards we find John White, the 
printer at Newcastle-on-Tyne, with a good stock of orna- 
ments, which he used with effect in Bourne's History of 
Newcastle, which he printed in 1736. The head-piece 
here shown is a characteristic example of eighteenth century 
work (note the baskets of flowers and fruit, the birds and 
the cherubs), and Mr Welford, in his Early Newcastle 


English Printers' Ornaments 

Topography, describes the larger of the two tail-pieces as 
' gorgeous.' 

Coming south again, the printer at Truro, from whose 
press came the unfinished work called the Compleat History 
of Cornwall used the head and tail piece here reproduced. 



Chapter VI 

Miscellaneous Ornaments 

IN addition to the forms treated of in the foregoing 
chapter, the early English printers sometimes filled up 
the space at the end of a paragraph with small printers' 
ornaments. In his edition of Johannes de Garlandia, Mul- 
torum Vocabulorum, printed in 15 14, Pynson placed at the 
end of the last line of the colophon two units of a fleuron 
reversed. This is not shown by Messrs Meynell and Morison 
in their article in the Fleuron, and nothing exactly like it is 
shown by Mr D. B. Updike in his numerous illustrations of 
specimen sheets English and Foreign. It consisted of a spiral 
with two leaves, and measures about 10 mm. in length. It 
also proves that the fleuron or 4 petit fer ' was known in this 
country in 15 14, and probably earlier. He used these again 
in the Year Books of Edw. III. But on what system, if any, 
he worked it is not easy to understand. In the first five 
sheets of this book, although there were many vacant spaces 
that could have been filled, no ornaments were used, but on 
signature F iiij they begin to appear ; but still there seems 
no uniformity. At the end of one paragraph three such 
ornaments are placed : in the next nothing, although the 
space at the end of the paragraph was just as large. Then 

English Printers" Ornaments 

we find one with five ; but the average number was three. 
Nor were they all of the same kind. One arrangement was 
ribbon, rleuron, ribbon ; another, one plait and two ribbon ; 
a third, three ribbon and one rleuron, and so on ; but why 
the compositor should have wasted his time putting in these 
ornaments here and there only, is inexplicable. 

Robert Redman was equally arbitrary in his use of them, 
the only difference he made being to place a colon between 
each unit. This custom very soon died out. 

But the miscellaneous ornaments I have in mind are 
usually found on the title-pages of books, and even there 
they are only occasionally met with in the sixteenth century, 
when it was usual for the printer to place his own device 
above the imprint. As these devices were often very 
artistic, they served their purpose of decoration very well. 
Vautrollier's fine series of the Anchora Spei may be cited as 
an instance. 

But there was at least one printer in the sixteenth 
century who did not follow this custom, and that was 
Henry Bynneman. It was not that he had no small block 
of the Mermaid to put on his title-pages, because we know 
that he used such a block at the end of one of his books. 
From the care he took in the printing of his books we may 
suppose him to have taken a pride in their appearance, 
and this probably arose from his chief patron being Sir 
Christopher Hatton, who at that time was the most powerful 
of Elizabeth's favourites, and was the friend and helper of 

8 4 

M iscellaneous Ornaments 

literary men. At any rate Bynneman frequently placed the 
crest of that nobleman, a hart surrounded by the motto, 
" Cerva charissima et gratissimus hinnulus," with a very 
elaborate frame, on his title-pages. It is seen in the fourth 
part of Gabriel Harvey's Gratulationis Valdinensis, the other 
three parts of which have on the title-page : the first, 
the royal arms ; the second, the crest of the Leicester family 
— the bear and ragged staff ; and the third, the crest of the 
Burleighs — a sheaf of corn with two lions rampant as sup- 
porters, and the motto, " Cor unvm via una," within a border 
of fleurons. 

Several of the blocks reproduced by Mr McKerrow in his 
Printers' and Publishers'' Devices were not devices at all, 
but merely ornaments. Such a one is No. 248, which he 
describes as a " two-tailed mermaid blowing two horns. A 
fringe of tassels below." In fact, he admits that it is an 
ornament. Another was No. 244, which he describes as a 
wreath enclosing armorial bearings found in A. Broke's 
Tragical History of Rouieus and Juliet, printed by 
R. Robinson in 1578. A third that was certainly not a 
device, though it was associated with the Eliots Court Press, 
was the " Veritas felix temporis " block, a copy from a 
foreign source, which, in spite of the bad workmanship, 
retains much of its original grace and beauty. 

John Windet placed on the title-page of H. Swinburne's 
Brief e Treatise of Testaments and Wills, 1590, a curious 
little decorative block, in which two happy-looking cherubs 


English Printers' Ornaments 

sitting under overhanging sprays of foliage that are part of 
the contents of an urn or basket of fruit and flowers are busily 
playing, one a guitar and the other a viol or violin, but 
whether they are serenading the lady whose head forms part 
of the design one is left to guess. This block was perhaps 
in reality a tail-piece. 

The title-page of the first edition of King Lear, published 
by Simon Stafford in 1605, had as an ornament a block that 
was used on occasion both as head and tail piece, and came 
afterwards into the possession of George Purslowe and so to 
the Eliots Court Press. That seen on the title-page of Cyril 
Tourneur's Atheist's Tragedie, published for John Stepneth 
and Richard Redmer in 161 1, also belongs to the same 
category, as does also the one placed on the title-page of 
A Description of New England, printed by Humfrey 
Lownes in 16 16. The fleur-de-lys placed above his im- 
print by William Jones in Gerard Malynes' Center of the 
Circle of Commerce is familiar in several seventeenth century 
books, while that seen on the title-page of Euphues, his 
Censure to Philautus, printed by Elizabeth Allde in 1634, 
had a counterpart amongst the blocks of Felix Kingston, and 
is frequently found as a head-piece. 

Indeed, one can never be sure whether they are dealing 
with the original or only a copy, as most of these blocks were 
copied over and over again. 



Chapter VII 

Initial Letters and Factotums 

NOTHING tends to heighten the artistic beauty of 
a book so much as the initial letters. This fact was 
recognized by the monastic scribes, who lavished all 
their skill in the production of beautifully illuminated letters 
in the Missals and Books of Hours upon which they spent 
their time in the scriptorium. 

For some time after the introduction of printing, with 
certain rare exceptions, the early printers left the space to be 
filled by the initial letter blank for the illuminator to fill in. 
But before long they began to cut the initials for their books 
in wood, and they went to the manuscript books for their 
earliest model, hence the ecclesiastical character of the first 
woodcut initials ; and although they could never hope to 
obtain the beauty of the illuminated letter, which was due 
as much to the colouring as the design, the printers soon 
learnt to produce very striking and effective decorative 
initials. For an illustration we need go no further than 
Paris, where in the fifteenth century the books of Antoine 
Verard were decorated with a grand series of woodcut L's, 
copied from the decorative script of that period, while it is 
only necessary to glance through Mons. A. Glaudin's mag- 


English Printers" Ornaments 

nificent history of printing in France to see many other 
examples; while M. Butsch's Biicher-Ornamentik and 
Castellani's Early Venetian Printing show that the presses 
of other countries were equally prolific in this field of book 

The early English printers in this, as in every other, 
branch of their work were content to copy or to borrow 
from foreign sources rather than to create, consequently the 
initials found in their books before 1500 show little origin- 
ality. They borrowed chiefly from France, or perhaps it 
would be more correct to say that they bought chiefly from 
France. There was so much material in the market, and it 
saved so much time and trouble to buy from others. Or was 
it that there was no man in England sufficiently skilled to 
draw or design initial letters, and no craftsman skilled enough 
in woodcutting to produce them ? Whatever the reason, 
this foreign trade in initials continued throughout the six- 
teenth century, as blocks that had come from Paris, Lyons, 
Basle, Venice, Florence, the Low Countries, and even Spain 
are frequently met with in books of that time. Matters 
improved as time went on, and English gravers began to 
turn out some very creditable work, so that, regarded as 
printers' ornaments, whether their origin be native or foreign, 
the initial letters found in English books from the fifteenth 
to the twentieth century are of sufficient artistic merit, as 
well as sufficiently numerous, to deserve a book or books to 
themselves. The publication of such a book is long over- 


Initial Letters and Factotums 

due. Too much good material has already been wasted in 
the piecemeal treatment of the subject and in the needless 
repetition of the same illustrations. What is needed is a 
comprehensive study of the whole subject, tracing as far as 
possible the birthplace of various alphabets, and what is no 
less interesting, pointing out the variations in certain alphabets 
due to the copyist. 

In the hope that such a work may not be much longer 
delayed, I think it as well to say as little as possible on this 
branch of English printers' ornaments, and in this section 
merely to whet the appetite of the reader for that full study 
of the subject that is bound to come. 

Fortunately there is no lack of material. The studies of 
Mr Charles Sayle, of Cambridge University Library, which 
have extended over several years, supplemented by those of 
Mr A. W. Pollard, Dr Oscar Jennings, and recently of 
Mr Percy Smith, make the task a light one as far as the 
initials of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are concerned. 
With Mr Sayle's kind permission two or three examples 
have been chosen from his paper on the subject read before 
the Bibliographical Society in November 1902. To these I 
have added a few others of that period that, so far as is 
known, have not hitherto been reproduced, and I have 
further supplemented them with some examples from my 
recent paper on the Eliots Court Press and other sources 
to illustrate the work of the seventeenth and eighteenth 

9 1 

English Printers Ornaments 

For the purposes of this section I have divided the letters 
into groups, according to their subjects, such as ecclesiastical, 
biblical, classical, grotesque, heraldic, and finally miscellaneous, 
embracing designs not otherwise groupable. 

An early example of the ecclesiastical initial is the letter 
T found on the verso of the title-page of the Legend Aurea. 
Those seen in the Morton Missal of 1500, some of which 
embody Cardinal Morton's rebus, also belong to this class, 
and have the additional merit of being, it is believed, English 

The highly decorative L found in some of the books of 
R. Faques about 1530 is another good example, while the 
F used in 1540 by William Middleton in the Year Books 
of Henry VI., showing a bishop with a mitre, is also worth 

The Reformation and the printing of Bibles and 
Common Prayer called for large numbers of initial letters 
of all sizes, and it is not surprising that Biblical scenes 
should have formed the subject of many of these. Here 
again the English printer had no need to create. The large 
number of service books, printed by the various printers on 
the Continent ever since the first establishment of the art in 
Europe, had Hooded the market with a quantity of such 
blocks, of which he was not slow to avail himself. As Mr 
Sayle remarks, the Great Bibles of 1540 and 1 541 are a 
mine in themselves. The magnificent letter I, illustrating 
the Creation, is sufficiently well known. The H, repre- 


Initial Letters and Factotums 

senting Samuel and Eli, first used by Herford in 1544, is 
another familiar example. 

Reginald Wolfe also had a very interesting set, illustrating 
scenes in the life of St Paul, used in an edition of the New 
Testament, and in his Chrysostum is a Q, the subject of 
which is the Judgment of Solomon. 

In Bullinger's Sermons, printed by Ralph Newberrie in 
1577, * s a l etter D tnat I think belongs to this division, and 
represents the death of the firstborn in Egypt. 

Classical subjects begin to appear in English books about 
the middle of the sixteenth century, although as early as 
152 1 Siberch at Cambridge used a letter C, representing 
St George and the Dragon, white on a black ground, which 
Mr Sayle thinks is local work. 

A very fine outline letter S, measuring 64 by 63 mm., 
shows two figures appealing to a satyr, with a background 
of flowers and foliage, was used by T. Berthelet in the 
Bibliotheca Eliota? in 1559. This printer also used an 
artistic alphabet which clearly came from Basle. Another 
S of the same group, but a different subject, is seen in Day's 
Cosmographical Glass, one of the finest examples of that 
printer's work, in which are many artistic initials signed 
I. B., I. C, and I. D. The last two are supposed to stand 
for John Day, but there is little to support the attribution. 
But the most famous of these signed initials were those 
attributed to Anton Sylvius : examples of these are found 
in books printed by Reginald Wolfe, John Day, and others. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

As Mr Sayle very rightly says, these initials are worth a 
monograph in themselves. 

Grotesques were of many kinds. They were popular 
on the Continent in the fifteenth century, and an early 
example of their use in England is the letter A found in 
Notary's hands in 1504, which he had obtained from Bocard 
of Paris. Another early set were those in which the human 
face formed a part of the design. These are clearly of 
French ornament, and sets are found in the hands of 
Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, Faques, and many others. 
Wynkyn de Worde also obtained a fine alphabet of 
this kind from Gottfried van Os, a printer of Gouda, the 
only letter that he used being an H, seen in Catherine 
of Siena. They continued in use until the middle of the 

Heraldic and personal initials are a fairly numerous class. 
One of the finest is a large decorative letter P, bearing the 
initials of Edward Whitchurch, and used in the Bible of 
1539. I n an °t ner Bible is found an initial showing the 
arms of the See of Canterbury. These arms are sometimes 
found with Archbishop Parker's initials added to them. In 
the Chaucer of 1542 is a letter A, with the initials of John 
Reynes. A fine example of an heraldic letter was a letter 
D showing the arms of the Earl of Leicester, used by 
John Day in the Cosmographical Glass, printed in 1559. 
Christopher Barker, in the Prayer Book of 1580, introduced 
an A and a T bearing his initials, and in many of his books 


Initial Letters and Factotums 

are found other initial letters bearing the crest and arms of 
his patron, Francis Walsingham. 

The group I have called Miscellaneous is so vast that the 
examples here noted are barely a fraction of them. They 
range from all sizes, and are chiefly ornamental — that is, their 
design illustrates no particular subject. 

The E used by Siberch in 152 1, in the Libellus de Con- 
scribendis, consists of decorative spirals, white on a black 
ground, and is very effective. The O and S from the same 
alphabet are equally fine. These letters bear some relation 
to those used by Pynson at this time. Stipple work and 
ornament of a different kind are the main features of the 
fine H used on sig. A 2 of Pynson's Libello huic regio hac 
insunt, printed in the same year. 

Still more striking is the V seen in the Year Books of 
Edward III., printed by Robert Redman in 1540, and which 
was probably part of Pynson's material. This may have 
come from Italy. 

Vautrollier, the Huguenot printer in London, had some 
beautiful initials, amongst them the E here shown, and 
which figures in many of his books. A contrast to this is 
the outline letter C from the 1562 edition of Foxe's Book of 
Martyrs. Decoration of an arabesque kind is seen in a fine 
set of initials used by Christopher Barker in the Prayer Book 
of 1580, mentioned above. 

Some of the small initials in the sixteenth century are 
equally as good as the large ones. Hundreds of them call 


English Printers' Ornaments 

for illustration, but there is only room here to include one of 
two exquisite little examples that were amongst Denham's 
stock, and which he used in 7be Footepath to Felic'itie in 
1 5" 8 1 . These are two T's, both the same size but differing 
in design. 

Passing on into the seventeenth century we come at once 
upon the work of the Eliots Court Press. Many of their 
large stock of decorative initials came to them through 
Henry Bynneman, and can be traced back to the presses of 
Henry Denham, Reginald Wolf, and Richard Jugge. But 
there was one alphabet that I have called the Apostle series, 
as each letter showed a figure round whose head was a 
nimbus, some of which have the emblems of the apostles, 
but other personages, such as King David, are now and again 
substituted. These initials were enclosed in a frame each 
side of which shows a certain number of circles, or they may 
be intended for studs. This alphabet made its first appear- 
ance in books printed at the Eliots Court Press in 1603, 
when it was used in the folio Plutarch, which bears Arnold 
Hatfield's imprint ; but both George Robinson and Henry 
Middleton had previously used a similar alphabet. In fact, 
there is no doubt that here we see the copyist at work, and 
it seems probable that the Eliots Court ' Apostle ' alphabet 
was a direct copy from that used by Henry Middleton ; but 
there was one feature of the Middleton letters that, fortun- 
ately for the bibliographer of modern times, the copyist did 
not consider it necessary to follow strictly, and that was the 


Initial Letters and Factotums 

number of circles that were to appear in each section of the 
frame. So when copying the letter F, instead of putting 
twelve circles at the top and thirteen at the bottom, as shown 
in the Middleton letter, he only put nine at the top and ten 
at the bottom, and it is only by noting this difference in 
the number of circles in the frame that one can tell the 
difference between the Eliots Court letters and those of 
Robinson, Middleton, and various other printers of the 
seventeenth century who used similar alphabets. By the 
kindness of Professor A. W. Pollard I am enabled to show 
two of these Apostle letters which appeared in my article; 
also two other decorative letters that are found in books 
issuing from that press. Probably the I was designed to 
commemorate the accession of King James, in honour of 
the king of that name, as it embodies the rose and thistle 

Mr Sayle, in a footnote to his paper mentioned above, 
calls attention to the heraldic initials found in Thos. Fuller's 
Church History, 1655, each section of which was dedicated 
to a nobleman, whose arms are show T n in the initial of 
the opening paragraph. 

The work of the University presses at this time also 
provide some good initial letters. M. Burghers of Oxford 
designed some very fine ones for the Clarendon's History of 
the Rebellion, and Buck and Daniel at Cambridge used a 
somewhat ornate but very decorative alphabet, examples of 
which are reproduced in Bowes' Catalogue of Cambridge 
G 97 

English Printers' Ornaments 

Books. In the Lucretius of 1 7 1 3, already referred to in 
the section on head and tail pieces, the initials carry on the 
unity of design and are in every way suitable. Though 
small in size they fit in with the type admirably and add to 
the charm of what was undoubtedly one of the best produc- 
tions of the eighteenth century press, as may be seen from 
the two examples here reproduced. 

Of another character altogether is the initial A taken 
from a tract written by the Rev. Elisha Smith in 17 19, and 
the T found in a sermon printed at Edinburgh in 1740. 


Where a printer had but a small stock of decorative 
initial letters he frequently made use of an ornamental frame, 
in the centre of which he placed an ordinary capital. This 
practice seems to have arisen about the middle of the 
sixteenth century, and it probably had its origin on the 

These borders for initials have come to be known as 
* factotums,' because they were called to do duty on all 
occasions, and they have been heartily condemned as 
destructive of all artistic feeling. When, as they often do, 
they occur throughout a book, they become monotonous. 
On the other hand, these factotums, to give them their 
modern name, are not without merit, and in the case of large 
ones they could be made artistic or decorative. Thev were 
made both in metal and wood, and certain patterns were 


Initial Letters and Factotums 

apparently turned out by the foundries in large numbers and 
supplied to all printers alike. Two of the commonest and 
perhaps the earliest forms were small frames measuring 
22x21 mm. and were of classic design, in one case the 
filials rising from two cornucopire apparently fastened to- 
gether with bows and ends of rope (?). In the other instance 
the cornucopise are more floral in treatment. In one the 
filials consist of a female head at the end of an elongated and 
curved neck and are both alike, but in the other the upper 
portions of a male and female are seen. Another feature of 
these two factotums is some kind of drapery and they were 
enclosed within single rules. Both of them are found in 


the hands of many printers in London and of those at Oxford 
and Cambridge at the same time. 

Equally familiar in books of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries are two larger forms, one of which shows a man 
and woman plucking thistles and tufts of thistles in the 
foreground. Needless to say this was of Scottish origin, and 
is first found in the books of Waldegrave when he was 
printing in Scotland. It afterwards was used by the Eliots 
Court Press and other printers in the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries. The smaller of the two represents the story of 

A series of factotums found in Grover's printing office 
in 1679 and used by him in the folio Herodotus are evidently 
woodcuts and are not without merit. A very similar 
factotum which may possibly have migrated from Grover's 


English Printers" Ornaments 

foundry was in use by the Clarendon Press in 1759. 1 They 
are evidently by the same hand that cut the tail-piece seen 
in the same volume. 

The use of these borders continued throughout the 
eighteenth century, and a good example is seen in a sermon 
printed in 1738, which is partly geometrical and partly 

They were frequently made up of fleurons and very 
cleverly arranged. We reproduce one taken from The 
Lovers' Manual, 1753. 

1 H. Hart, Notes on a Century of Typography, 1900, p. 145. 



Chapter VIII 

Modern JVork 

PRECEDING chapters of this book have dealt with 
the various kinds of printers' ornaments met with in 
English books down to the end of the eighteenth 
century. We have now reached our last port of call on this 
eventful voyage of discovery, viz., Modern Work, which 
may be said to have taken its rise from the nineteenth 
century and the Whittingham Press. Although many fine 
books have been printed by William Bulmer, Archibald 
Hamilton, and others at the close of the eighteenth century, 
and by Charles Whittingham the elder during the early part 
of the nineteenth century, their attraction lay chiefly in the 
clearness of the type with which they were printed and the 
beauty of the illustrations, for they were wholly devoid of 
printers' ornaments of any kind, so that when in 1844 the 
Diary of Lady Willoughby made its appearance, it may be 
said to have swept away all the preconceived notions as 
to book decoration that had been in vogue before its 

Charles Whittingham the younger, the printer of this 
book, was the nephew and successor of Charles Whitting- 
ham, the founder of the Chiswick Press in 1809, at which 

English Printers' Ornaments 

a library of pretty books had been printed before Charles 
Whittingham the younger was out of his apprenticeship. 

For a time the two men were in partnership, but their 
natures differed so widely that in 1828 they dissolved 
partnership, and while the elder Whittingham continued 
to print at Chiswick, Charles Whittingham the younger 
came to London and started as a printer in Tooks Court, 
Chancery Lane, where the business is still carried on under 
the same title, though no Whittingham is now connected 
with it. At the same time he was ready to help his uncle 
in emergencies and was frequently at Chiswick. But it 
was while he was at Tooks Court that Charles Whit- 
tingham the younger was introduced to William Pickering, 
the publisher. They quickly became friends. Pickering, 
to quote from Mr Warren's book, 1 was one of the very first 
publishers of his century to make the production of fine 
editions a particular branch of enterprise. " He was not 
only a bookseller, but a book lover. He had a taste for 
old books." And again, to quote from Mr Warren, "He 
had a notion that if an old author were a good one, he 
deserved to be dressed well." Pickering was a well-read 
man, of good judgment and rare taste. 

Charles Whittingham the younger was a man of ideas. 
Liberally educated, he turned his education to good account. 
He also was a book lover as well as a printer, and con- 
sequently there sprang up a life-long connection between 

1 The Charles Whittinghams Printer, 1896. 

Modern W ork 

the two that resulted in the production of some notable 
books. Whereas Whittingham the elder had been noted 
for his printing of pictures, Whittingham the younger made 
it the peculiar " grace of his craft to bedeck books with 
borders, comely head-pieces, and other alluring devices. He 
carried this branch of his work to such an extent that you 
shall find nothing lovelier between book-covers until you 
turn back to the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle 
Ages." For these ornaments for his books Charles Whit- 
tingham the younger went back to the printers of the 
eighteenth century — to Geoffrey Tory of Paris, to Henry 
Bynneman and Henry Denham of London. He taught 
his family to appreciate their beauty and to perpetuate it, 
and his daughters Charlotte and Elizabeth copied and de- 
signed head and tail pieces, borders and initial letters, while 
another lady, Mary Byfield, who came of a family of 
engravers, engraved them. It is said that Pickering and 
Whittingham would spend their Sunday afternoons studying 
sixteenth century books, and the ornaments to be found 
in them which they afterwards adapted for the decoration 
of their publications. 

But the Diary of Lady Willoughby was as remarkable 
for the type as its ornaments. Whittingham the younger 
wanted something better than the founts of type then in 
vogue, and he found it in the old face type of the Caslon 
foundry, i.e. the beautiful fount that had been cut by the elder 
Caslon more than a hundred years before, and which had 


English Printers" Ornaments 

aroused the admiration of that generation. It was no easy 
task to find the matrices, and this caused some delay in the 
publication of the book ; but when it appeared about the 
middle of 1844 the Diary of Lady Willonghby was hailed 
as one of the best specimens of typography seen in England 
since the days of Baskerville and the elder Caslon. From 
that day to the present old face type has retained its 
popularity, and has been adapted by many other modern 
firms. Both the type and ornaments designed by Whitting- 
ham the younger are still largely used by the present 
proprietors of the Chiswick Press, and may be seen in two 
notable books published during the year 1923. The first 
is the fine edition of the Works of William Blake, printed 
for the Grolier Club of New York, in itself a testimony 
of the high position gained in the printing world by this 
press, while the collotype reproductions throughout the work 
are excellent. The other book is the History of St Bar- 
tholomew 's Hospital, issued to commemorate the foundation of 
that institution. The Whittingham ornaments and old face 
type are especially suitable to the character of the work. 

The influence exercised by the Chiswick Press was con- 
tinued until there arose on the horizon of the book world 
one greater than either of the Whittinghams — William 
Morris. Educated at Marlborough School and Exeter 
College, Oxford, this gifted man became a weaver of 
wonderful tales in prose and verse, a painter of pictures 
and frescoes, a designer of art tapestries, the founder of a 

1 06 

Modern W irk 

decorating firm in which artists such as Rossetti and 
Burne-Jones were partners. Towards the close of his life 
he turned his attention to the art of printing, and founded, 
in the Upper Mall, Hammersmith, the Kelmscott Press. 

The first book that came from that press was The Story 
of the Glittering Plain, one of his own writings, which 
appeared on April 4, 1891. It was a small quarto printed 
with the Golden Type, and the issue was limited to 200 
ordinary copies and six on vellum. 

It was at once evident that Mr Morris had gone back 
to the fifteenth century for both his type and ornaments. 
The first page of the text was surrounded by a border 
designed by Mr Morris himself and showing traces of the 
Venetian school. It was printed in a specially cast fount 
of Roman letter, modelled on that of Nicholas Jenson, the 
printer in Venice, in the fifteenth century. It was not 
quite rigidly Roman, some of the letters showing a trace 
of Gothic. 

On September 24, 1891, another quarto was issued, 
Poems by the Way, and during the next twelve months five 
more books from the Kelmscott Press made their appear- 
ance — Love-Lyrics and Songs oj Proteus, and other Poems, 
by Wilfred Blunt ; Of the Nature oj Gothic, by John 
Ruskin ; William Morris's Defence of Guenevere, and other 
poems, followed by the same author's Dream of John Ball, 
and in September Caxton's edition of the Golden Legend, 
in three large quarto volumes, with woodcuts by Burne- 


English Printers' Ornaments 

Jones. This was intended to be the first issue of the Press, 
but was delayed by an accident. The initial letters, which in 
the earlier books appeared to be somewhat too large for the 
page, were exactly right in this. Here, too, appeared for 
the first time the woodcut frontispiece title that afterwards 
became a feature of the Kelmscott Press. Sometimes these 
were printed in white letters on a ground of dark scroll- 
work, sometimes in black letters on a lighter ground, and 
they were surrounded by a border of the same design as 
that to the first page of the text, it being William Morris's 
principle that the unit, both for arrangement of type and 
for decoration, is always the double page. The type used 
in this was the same as that seen in the first production of 
the Press : but from its use in this book it was afterwards 
distinguished as the Golden type. 

Beautiful as the Golden Legend was as an example of 
the printer's craftsmanship, it was immediately followed by 
another book that eclipsed it, a reprint of Caxton's Recuyell 
of the Histories of Troy in two volumes in large quarto. 
For this Morris had designed a new fount of type, a hand- 
some Gothic letter, which recalled that of the fifteenth 
century printer, Anton Koberger of Nuremberg, and was 
not unlike a fount of type used by Thomas Berthelet. This 
type came to be known as the Troy types ; but it was not 
alone the type that attracted attention. The decoration of 
these two volumes was equally remarkable. 

Another book printed in the Troy type was Godejrey of 


Modern W ork 

Bologne, and by the courtesy of the Trustees of the 
Kelmscott Press, one of the borders designed by Morris for 
this book is here reproduced. The boldness of execution 
no less than the simplicity of the design and its uniformity 
with the text, show the skill of the woodcutter. Another 
notable departure from stereotyped pattern was introduced 
by Morris. His fleuron became a perfect leaf — a black leaf 
with white ribs, which took the place of the reversed P or 
D used for paragraph marks. 

The type in which these books were printed was after- 
wards recut in a smaller size for the folio edition of the 
works of Chaucer, which issued from the Kelmscott Press in 
1895, and with its magnificent illustrations by Burne-Jones, 
is its crowning glory. 

William Morris died in 1896 after he had printed fifty- 
three books. Short as his career as a printer was, his 
influence spread in ever-widening circles and still remains 
with us. In a few words, which cannot be too often quoted, 
he set out his ideal of what a printer should do and what 
a printed book should be : " The whole duty of Typog- 
raphy is to communicate to the imagination, without loss 
by the way, the thought or image intended to be conveyed 
by the author. And the whole duty of beautiful typography 
is not to substitute for the beauty or interest of the thing 
thought and intended to be conveyed by the symbol a 
beauty or interest of its own, but on the one hand to win 
access for that communication by the clearness and beauty of 


English Printers" Ornaments 

the vehicle, and on the other hand to take advantage of 
every pause or stage in that communication to interpose some 
characteristic and restful beauty in its own art." 

In this spirit William Morris's immediate disciples — 
Mr Emery Walker, Mr Cobden Sanderson, and Mr St 
John Hornby — founded the Doves Press and the Ashendene 

The Doves Press was founded in 1900 and closed its 
doors in 19 16. In that time was produced a Bible in five 
quarto volumes, as well as plays of Shakespeare, poems of 
Milton, Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, and others, and prose 
works by ]ohn Ruskin and Emerson. 

Mr St John Hornby attained success at his Ashendene 
Press with a fount of Greek adapted from the fount used 
by the first printers in Italy, but the books produced at these 
two presses contribute nothing to the history of English 
Printers' Ornaments. Apart, however, from the work of the 
private enthusiasts, the trade as a whole was purified and 
immensely improved by their example. 

In the early part of the present year the Directors of the 
Medici Society arranged an exhibition of Twentieth Century 
Books at the Grafton Galleries in London. More than half 
the exhibits were from English presses, and the general 
impression conveyed by that exhibition was, that a great 
improvement in craftsmanship had taken place all round in 
the last five and twenty years. What our printers and type- 
founders can do at the present day in the way of book 

1 10 

Modern Work 

decoration will be seen by a study of the following pages, 
in which, by the kindness of the various firms, we are able 
to bring together a representative collection of modern 
Printers' Ornaments. 

The modern Caslon foundry still carried on by H. W, 
Caslon & Co. in Chiswell Street, to which William Caslon 
the first transferred his business in 1 734, is still one of the 
leading foundries in this country. After his death his son 
William the second reigned in his stead and carried on the 
traditions of the foundry, and was in due course succeeded 
by his son William the third, who in 1792 gave up his 
interest in the business to his mother and his brother Henry's 
widow. On the death of Mrs William Caslon her will was 
disputed, and as a result the business was put up to auction 
and secured by Mrs Henry Caslon for the modest sum of 
^^20. Seven years before a one-third share in the business 
was worth ^3000. The cause of this drop was, says 
Mr J. F. McRae, in his Two Centuries of Type-founding : 
(1) Depreciation in the value of the stock; (2) competition; 
(3) a reluctance to run up the price against a widow. 

Undoubtedly the main cause was a change in public 
taste. Even beauty palls after a time, and the public had 
taken up with Bodoni and other much inferior faces, and 
this neglect lasted for nearly a century. 

In 1844 Messrs Charles Whittingham the younger and 
Thomas Longman brought about a revival of interest in the 
Caslon Old Face type by their publication of The Diary oj 

1 1 1 

English Printers'* Ornaments 

the Lady WiUoughby. To quote again from Mr Warren's 
book : " Matrices that had been reposing in the vaults of the 
Caslon foundry for nearly three generations were refitted 
to moulds, and made to serve for the casting of type " 
(p. 238). 

But the firm was not yet through its difficulties. In 
1865 a strike of some of the workmen, on a question of 
wages, was followed by a lock-out that lasted for eight 
months and brought its fortunes to their lowest ebb. Then 
in 1872 Mr Thomas W. Smith, who had for some years 
acted as traveller to the foundry, was asked to take over 
the management. His position was a difficult one. Old 
fashions die hard, and the foreman and many of the work- 
men had been with the firm all their lives and resented 
change. But Mr Smith persevered, his object being, as he 
himself declared, to work up arrears of production and to 
rescue the Specimen Book from the miserable and degraded 
state to which it had fallen. 

His success was complete, and the firm to-day stands as 
high as ever it did, thanks mainly, no doubt, to the great 
popularity of the Caslon Old Face. In the matter of 
ornaments it is only necessary to compare the Specimen 
Book of 1842 with that of 19 10 to show how great had 
been the improvement in the interval, an improvement that 
the examples have shown of the firm's work at the present 
day fully bear out. 

Between the years 1883 and 1900 the English Illustrated 

1 1 2 

Modern W ork 

Magazine made a feature of its ornaments. These included 
reproductions of famous head and tail pieces and initials by 
various foreign masters of the sixteenth century belonging 
to the French, German, and Dutch schools, the work of - 
Aldus, Theodoric de Bry, and Holbein ; nor were native 
artists neglected. Between 1883 anc ^ 1887 we find some 
excellent head-pieces by A. P. Hughes. In July 1889 
appeared a tail-piece from the pencil of Sir E. Burne-Jones, 
followed by a good decorative head-piece by Matilda Stokes. 
In 1893-94 the work of Lawrence Housman begins to appear. 
The initials used in Bibliographic a and in the various 
monographs, etc., of the Bibliographical Society down to 
the present time were designed by him, and are worthy 
to rank with the best art work of the early Italian 

Walter Crane and Emery Walker were other well-known 
contributors to the English Illustrated Magazine, and by the 
kindness of Messrs R. & R. Clark one of Mr Crane's decora- 
tive blocks is here reproduced. 

Akin to the Caslon Foundry, and also linked up with that 
of John Baskerville of Birmingham, is the firm of Stephenson, 
Blake & Co., of Sheffield, Manchester, and London, which 
had its origin in the firm of Blake, Garnett & Co., founded 
in 1 8 19. It was from the office of Stephenson, Blake & Co. 
that Mr T. W. Smith passed to the Caslon Foundry, and 
it was on his suggestion that a branch of the firm was 
established in London. The firm has to-day a large assort- 
h • 113 

English Printers' Ornaments 

ment of flowers, borders, and ornaments, both well designed 
and well cast. Many of the old forms are retained and some 
variations of the fieuron introduced. 

Messrs Shanks, of Red Lion Square, have sent some 
head and tail pieces shown in their most recent specimen. 
These, both in design and treatment, recall French work of 
the sixteenth century, while the Cubist idea that marks 
their Athenian border brings us back to the twentieth 

The productions of the Curwen Press are well known to 
all bookmen. Much of its art work came from the pencil 
of the late Claude Lovat Fraser, who also designed many 
of the ornaments and tail-pieces. His successor, Mr P. J. 
Smith, was the designer of the conventional fleurons, here 

The Morland Press in Ebury Street is another of the 
modern presses whose craftsmanship is highly esteemed, 
and much of its art work is by the well-known artist 
F. Brangwyn. 

The specimen sheet of the Pelican Press, which was 
established in 19 17, is an ambitious one. It reproduces for 
the consideration and choice of its customers borders designed 
after those of Ratdolt of Venice, Geoffrey Tory of Paris, and 
some of the printers of Lyons. 

In ornaments it produces a large selection modelled on 
the old forms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one 
of which resembles very closely an ornament used on the 


Modern W irk 

title-page of John Bodenham's Garden of the Muses, printed 
in 1610, and in addition to all kinds of fleurons, they 
reproduce the fleur-de-lys, the acorn, and various stars. They 
also show a fine collection of initials, French and Italian, that 
they claim are modelled on the best work of the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries. 

No account of Modern Printers' Ornaments would be 
complete without a record of the work done by the University 
Presses. Marching with the times the Oxford University 
Press, still familiarly known as the Clarendon Press, has long 
since relegated the once famous Fell and Junius types to the 
vaults as curiosities, and has availed itself of the best founts 
that a modern foundry can produce. In 1766 the University 
had an account with William Caslon, from whom it bought 
both English and Foreign sorts, and at the present day no 
firm in England can show better craftsmanship. Whether 
in its many editions of the Bible and Prayer Book, its 
classical books, or the great dictionaries, its work in all de- 
partments — composition, excellence of spacing and presswork, 
and in clearness of type — is beyond all praise. Book-lovers 
were at one time known to complain of it as uninteresting, 
but under Mr Horace Hart the work of the Press became 
distinctly richer and more individual. 

As regards ornaments the Clarendon Press still retains in 
use those that have served it so well. The Phcenix is one 
of the original Fell ornaments, as are also the following units, 
which are seen in a little book printed in 1922, called Some 


English Printers" Ornaments 

Account of the Oxford University Press. Amongst these is 
the triple flower, which had its origin in Augsburg in the 
sixteenth century. In this book also some of M. Burghers' 
head-pieces are seen in a reduced form. 

In 1923 Cambridge celebrated its fourth centenary of 
printing. Its development has been slower, perhaps, than 
that of the sister University. It has been hampered largely 
by its constitution, but in the early nineteenth century many 
improvements were carried out, including the erection of 
the Pitt Press in 1833, and to-day its work is in every way 
worthy of its great traditions. In the foregoing pages we 
have watched the growth of endeavour on the part of the 
printers of England to reach the highest standard in the art 
of book-decoration. We have seen the small printers' 
ornaments grow, not only in variety of design, but also in 
regularity of face and clearness in reproduction. The ugly 
ornament, like the old-fashioned, fat-faced type, has given 
place to artistic and tasteful designs, coupled with growing 
knowledge on the part of the printers of the present day as 
to how they should be used, and it is a notable thing how 
one printer is vying with another, not only in reproducing 
4 old face' type, but in seeking their ornaments in the best 
productions of the fifteenth and sixteenth century presses. 

Boswell was once arguing with Dr Johnson on Goldsmith's 
merit as an author, and in the course of the argument Johnson 
said : 


Modern Work 

" Besides, Sir, it is the great excellence of a writer to put 
into his book as much as his book will hold. . . ." 

If English Printers^ Ornaments is not as full as it might 
be, we hope the reader will find enough in it to please his 
eye and feed his mind. 





1. Machlinia. Border used by R. Pynson. William de 1483 

Machlinia printed a Book of Hours with borders 
which later passed into Pynson's hands. The 
design consists of spirals of flowers and foliage. 

2. Caxton. Fifteen Oes. A decorative border of which H94 

the main features were spirals of flowers and 
foliage varied by the introduction of birds and 
grotesque animals. 

3. Pynson. Morton Missal. One of the fine borders 1500 

of the Morton Missal, consisting of four 
pieces introducing spirals of flowers and fruit. 
The bottom panel contains Cardinal Morton's 
rebus. The reproduction, which is slightly re- 
duced, also shows one of the beautiful initials 
designed for this Missal. {See Frontispiece.) 

4. Notary. Chronicle of England. Border made up of 1 S°4- 

flowers, animals, and various other designs, all 

5. Pynson. Petrus Carmelianus, which is built up with 1508 

a series of small ornaments resembling narrow 
strips of ribbon introducing neurons. 

6. Pynson. Sebastian Brant's Shyp of Folys. These 1509 

border pieces were used by Pynson on either side of 
his illustrations. The one reproduced is formed 

1 2 1 

English Printers' Ornaments 

by a series of half fleur-de-lys alternating with 
another pattern and divided by double white lines. 

7. De Worde. Design from Nicodemus Gospel made n.d. 

up of all kinds of odd ornaments. {c. 1 5 1 5) 

8. Pynson. Built-up border from Tear Books of 1518 

Edward III. This design included spirals of fruit 
and leaves, human figures, a dragon and a monkey. 

9. Pynson. Sallust. An effective border appears on 1520 

each side of the illustration. Note also the 
initial R. This illustration is here reproduced by 
the courtesy of Messrs Maggs Bros. 

10. Siberch. The first border printed at Cambridge is 1521 

a one-piece border of architectural design, intro- 
ducing an arch supported by columns, and, below, 
two children acting as supporters to the Royal 
Arms. The border is here reproduced by the 
courtesy of Messrs Bowes & Bowes of Cambridge. 

11. Faques. Skelton's Goodly Garland. A border made 1523 

up of small ornaments representing the heraldic 
tincture " ermine." 

12. Faques. Skelton's Goodly Garland. On three sides 1523 

of the illustration are printers' ornaments made 
up of variations of the neuron. 

13. Treveris. Border from the Greate Herball, two pieces 1526 

of which formerly belonged to Wynkyn de Worde. 

14. Siberch. Border design from some foreign Missal 1521 

or Book of Hours. Reproduced by the courtesy 
of Messrs Bowes & Bowes of Cambridge. 


Description of Borders 

15. Myddylton. Lyttleton's Tenures. A one-piece 1545 

border of elaborate design introducing scroll- 
work and cupids. 

16. Siberch. Border design from some foreign missal 1521 

or Book of Hours. Reproduced by the courtesy 
of Messrs Bowes & Bowes of Cambridge. 

17. Berthelet. Gower's De Confessione Amantis. A 1554. 

window-frame border slightly reduced in size. 

18. Bynneman. John Grange's Golden Aphroditus. l S77 

Curious neuron border. 

19. Bynneman. Palace of Pleasure, vol. ii. A typical 1567 

neuron border. 

20. Denham. Palace of Pleasure. A very delicate flower 1566 

design enclosed in rules. 

21. Bynneman. A Sermon preached before the Queene's 1573 

Maiestie. Fleuron border. 

22. Denham. The Monomachie of Motives. Four-piece 1582 

chain border, a square alternating with an oval 
and linked together by a ring, the top and bottom 
pieces being finished with a star. 

23. Short. Footepath to Felicitie is in a new style showing 1602 

the transition stage between the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. 

24. The Lanter?ie of Lyghte is a one-piece window-frame c. 1600 

border composed of rules with a small running 


English Printers" Ornaments 

25. Jackson. Greene's Arbasto : The Anatomie of Fortune. 1584 

A made-up design of ornaments confined in a 
lattice-work of white lines. 

26. Bishop. Border made up from a head-piece used 1585 

by G. Bishop. This is one of the most usual 
forms of the fleuron. (See Title-page.) 

27. Waldegrave. The Basilikon Doron made up of two 1599 

illustrative side pieces linked top and bottom 
by four small printers' ornaments of different 

28. Beale. William Martyn's Youth's Instructor, second 161 3 

edition. A curious medley combining the fleuron 
and the decorative block. The effect is not good, 
and, perhaps fortunately, it is unusual. 

29. Barker. A section of a bold fleuron border re- 1630 

produced from the Incomparable Treasure of Holy 
Scripture, which was printed in large folio. 

30. Printer unidentified. An effective small border of 1664 

separate ornaments of common design used in 
Hilton's Discovery. 

31. Same, reversed. 

32-33. Printed for Dodsley. Two curious border pieces 1751 
on the title-page to Gray's Elegy. The design is 
the same, in each case the implements of Time 
and Death — the scythe, the hour-glass, the crown, 
skull and cross-bones. 

34. Wilson of Kilmarnock. Border used on the 1786 ^89 
edition of Poems by Robert Burns. The repro- 

1 24 

Description of Borders 

duction is taken from the volume of poems by 
David Sillar. 

35. Printer not identified. A grass and flower design 1840 

border used on W. Baxter's British Phcenogamons 
Botany, vol. v., published by the author. In all 
probability the design was specially drawn for the 
book in order to harmonize with the subject. 

36. Printer not identified. Late eighteenth century c. 1795 

border of rose design which may be regarded as 
essentially English. The reproduction is made 
from The Artist's Repository. So well has this 
border stood the test that it may be found to-day 
amongst the designs of Messrs Stephenson, Blake & 
Co., Ltd., one of our premier type-founders. 



37. Kingston & Sutton. Missale ad usum Sarisburiensis. 1555 

Flowers and figures. 

38. Oswen. Exhortation to the Sicke. Triangular design 1548 

with fox in centre. 

39. Printer unidentified. The Treasury of Health. 1585 

Flowers and foliage. 

40. Denham. School of Skill. Conventional design: 1581 


41. Denham. Footepath of Felicitie. Conventional 1581 


42. Denham. Guide to Godlinesse. Conventional design, 1581 

showing rose. 

43. Head-piece from Philip Sidney. Twisted ribbon 1580-90 


44. Denham. Head-piece from Holinshed's Chronicles, 1579 

vol. i. Bear holding sprays. Men and dogs. 
Conventional foliage. 

45. Holinshed's Chronicles of Ireland. Conventional 1 579 

sprays : satyrs, animals, insects, etc. 

46. Field. History of Guicciardini. Conventional design : 1599 

sprays and flowers, two winged figures playing on 


English Printers' Ornaments 

47. Waldegrave. Basilikon Doron. Arabesque design. 1599 

48. Bynneman. Morelius. Conventional design, with 1583 

two archers. 

49. Vautrollier. De Rep. Anglorum. Head with cornu- 1579 

copia of fruit. 

50. Vautrollier. De Rep. Anglorum. Composite design: 1579 

spirals resembling letter A. Boys with bowl of 
fruit and flowers, animals and grotesques. 

51. The Joiirnall or Daily Register. Similar design to 1601 

foregoing, but smaller. 

52. Eliots Court Press. Copy of a Letter. Composite 1606 

design : spirals of foliage, grotesque fish, winged 
snakes, winged figures with javelins. 

53. Eliots Court Press. Spirals of foliage. National 1606 

emblems : lion and unicorn. 

54. Eliots Court Press. National emblems, crowned and 1606 


55. Eliots Court Press. Fleur-de-lys with figures and 1606 


56. Eliots Court Press. Cherubs blowing horns, from 1606 

which issue spirals of fruit and flowers. Copy of 
French block. 

57. Macham. Homer, Prince of Poets. Composite design : 1610 

two cornucopiae. National emblems : lion and 

58. Printer not known. A Pilgrime's Solace. Zig-zag 161 2 

ribbon, with national emblems. 


Description of Head-pieces 

59. Haviland. Fruit and flowers issuing from a jar. 1634 

60. Macham. Homer, Prince of Poets. Architectural, 1610 

with royal arms. 

61. Macham. Homer, Prince of Poets. Composite design: 1610 

spirals of fruit and flowers with insects. 

62. Macham. Homer, Prince of Poets. Composite 1610 

design : four horsemen. 

63. Barker. Architectural, with royal arms. c. 1620 

64. Printer unknown. Book of Prayers. Urns with 1662 

flower ornaments. 

65. Printer unknown. Double row of national emblems c. 1680 

and fleur-de-lys. 

66. For Busbie. O per se O. Fleurons arranged as 161 2 


67. Printer unknown. Double row of acorns. 1620 

68. Printer unknown. Double row of fleurons. 1630 

69. Oxford University Press. Head-piece by Burghers of 1702 

Oxford, designed for Clarendon's History of the 

70. Do. do. do. 1702 

71. Bowyer. Atkyn's Ancient and Present State of Glou- 171 2 

cester shire. Head-piece signed J. L. Basket of 
fruit, spirals of flowers and foliage. 

72. Printer unknown. The Compleat History of Cornwall, 175° 

Part II., printed at Truro. Spirals of flowers and 
foliage, two eagles. 
T 1 29 

English Printers' Ornaments 

73. Crownfield, Cambridge. Fruit and flowers in basket, c. 1730 

four birds and conventional ornament. 

74. Knapton. Works of Farquhar. Head-piece signed 1728 

F. H. and M. H. 

75. Printed for Dodsley. Irene, A Tragedy. Spirals of I 749 

foliage, squirrel in centre. 

76. Silver of Sandwich. Lovers' Manual. Fleurons 1753 

arranged in geometrical form. 

77. Printer unknown. Ode of Horace. 1 719 



78. Middleton. Statutes II. Henry VI. Long narrow c. 1540 

architectural block, formerly De Worde's. 

79. Kingston & Sutton. Missale ad usum Sarisburiensis. 1555 

Design : human figure, sprays of flowers, animal 
and bird. Crible. Probably French. 

80. Redman. Tear Book II. Henry VI. Seven lozenge c. 1540 


81. Oswen, Ipswich. Exhortation to the Sicke. Two 1549 

figures with stars. 

82. Berthelet. Castle of Health. Ornament on dark 1 5 39 

background from French sources. 

83. Printer unknown. Treasury of Health. Flower and 1585 


84. Redman. Year Book II . Henry V I . Half fleur-de-lys c. 1540 

and half feathers divided by zigzag white lines. 

85. Denham. Holinshed, vol. iii., Chronicles of Ireland. 1579 

Boy beating two drums. 

86. Jugge. Book of Common Prayer. Elaborate fleuron 1573 

border in four sections, showing three designs. 

87. Griffith. Caveat or Warneing. Arabesque design. 1567 

88. Griffith. Caveat or Warneing. Virgin and child in 1567 

circle surrounded by floral borders. 


English Printers' Ornaments 

89. Wolfe. Sophocles, Antigone. A fleuron tail-piece. 1581 

90. Vautrollier. De Rep. Anglorum. Arabesque design. 1579 

Single block. 

91. E. Allde. Bodenham's Garden of the Muses. Arab- 1610 

esque design with architectural detail. 

92. W. W. for Cuthbert Burby. Love's Labours Lost. 1598 

Arabesque design. Single block. 

93. E. Allde. Basilikon Doron. Fleuron ornament. 1603 

94. John Day. Ascham, Scholemaster. Circular arab- 1 579 

esque design. Single block. 

95. Islip. Wit's Miserie. Square arabesque design. 1596 

Single block. 

96. An arabesque tail-piece from Shakespeare's Pericles, c. 161 5 

97. Vautrollier. Ciceronis Epistola?. Gorgon's head. 1 579 

98. Printer uncertain. Cambridge. Tail-piece of seven c. 1700 

rows of fleurons arranged as reversed triangle. Re- 
produced by courtesy of Messrs Bowes & Bowes. 

99. Wolfe. Sophocles, Antigone. A fleuron tail-piece 1581 

showing a different design from No. 89. 

100, Printed for B. Lintott. Odes of Horace. Tail- 1719 

piece to Book IV. Ornate design : cherubs hold- 
ing birds, sprays of foliage. 

101. Printed for Knapton. Works of Farquhar. Tail- 1728 

piece of florid design, showing bird in centre 
flanked by baskets of flowers. 


Description of Tail-pieces 

102. Tonson & Watts. Lucretius, De rerum natura. A 171 3 

specially designed tail-piece to Book IV. 

103. Tonson & Watts. Lucretius, De rerum natura. A 171 3 

specially designed tail-piece to Dedication. 

104. Crownfield, Cambridge. Bird with outstretched c. 1730 

wings. Reproduced by courtesy of Messrs Bowes 
& Bowes of Cambridge. 

105. Clarendon Press, Oxford. Clarendon's History of 1702 

the Rebellion. Tail-piece designed and engraved 
by M. Burghers. 

106. Clarendon Press, Oxford. Clarendon's History of 1702 

the Rebellion. Tail-piece designed and engraved 
by M. Burghers. 

107. Welsh Bible. Architectural design with crowned 1620 

rose and cherubs in centre. 

108. Odes of Horace. Fountain and mermaids. Sprays 1743 

of foliage. 

109. Crownfield, Cambridge. Tail-piece. Two cornu- c. 1730 

copise with fruit and flowers. Tied together with 
ribbon and with bunch of flowers suspended from 
them. Reproduced by courtesy of Messrs Bowes 
& Bowes of Cambridge. 

no. Printer unknown. Truro. History of Cornwall. 1750 
Figure of Mercury in frame with conventional 
sprays of foliage and arch. Flanked with long- 
tailed birds holding flowers in their beaks. 

l 33 


in. Pynson & De Worde. Chain ornament. 1500-30 

112. Pynson & De Worde. Three designs used to fill up 1500-30 

spaces in the text. 

113. Printer unknown. Song of Solomon. Three acorns. 1620 

114. Printer unknown. A Declaration of Favourable 1583 

Dealing of Her Majestie's Commission. Arabesque 

115. Printer unknown. History of London. n.d. 

116. Field. E. Nicholas, Apologia. Fifteen fleuron units 1649 

and acorn arranged as reversed triangles. 

117. Grafton. Actes of Edward VI. Early form of 1560-70 

fleuron arranged on either side of word " Finis." 

118. Allde (Eliz.). Greene's Euphues, His Censure to 1634 

Philautus. Female head. Sprays of foliage. 
Woman's head in centre. 

119. Printed for R. Dodsley. Irene: A Tragedy, by 1749 

Saml. Johnson. Basket of flowers. Sprays of 
foliage. Two birds. Could be used as tail- 
piece if desired. 

120. For Stepneth & Redmer. Atheisfs Tragedie, by Cyril 161 1 

Tourneur. Small ornament. Conventional sprays, 
with head in centre. 

l 35 

English Printers' Ornaments 

121. Lownes. Description of New England. Small orna- 1616 

ment. Lion's head in centre. Festoons of flowers. 
Mark at either end. 

122. Buck, Cambridge. Locustce. Small ornament. 1627 

Conventional sprays and flowers. 

123. Stafford, for John Wright. King heir. Small 1605 

ornament. Conventional sprays and flowers. 
Differing from preceding. 

124. Cotes, for Bellamie. Wm. Wood New England's 1634 

Prospect. Small ornament. Crowned rose. Con- 
ventional sprays. 

1 25. Jones. Gerald Malynes' Center of Circle of Commerce. 1623 

Small ornament. Fleur-de-lys centre. Conven- 
tional sprays. 

126. E. A., i.e. Edward Allde, for John Tap. Bodenham's 1610 

Garden of the Muses. Very beautiful arabesque 
ornament. Reproduced by kind permission of 
Messrs Maggs Bros. 

127. Adlard & Browne. A flower ornament of unusual c. 1770 

design, reproduced from Luckombe's History of 

128. Do. do. do. 

129-134. Caslon. Six of the border designs used on the 1734 
first specimen sheet issued by this famous type- 
foundry. They were more delicate and graceful 
than those used in England by his predecessors 
and are still in vogue. Compare the modern 
specimens manufactured by the same firm. 


Description of Ornaments 

135-148. Baskerville. Fourteen single line ornaments c. 1750 
and flowers designed by John Baskerville. Repro- 
duced from John Baskerville by R. Straus and 
K. Dent, by kind permission of Mr R. Straus and 
the courtesy of the Cambridge University Press. 

l 37 


149. T De Worde. The Golden Legend. Large orna- 1493 

mental letter of ecclesiastical design with decora- 
tive sprays. 

150. P Whitchurch. Great Bible. Black with white 1540 

strap ornament. Bird in centre. With printer's 

151. S Redman. Statuta. In imitation of script. Prob- 1540 

ably of French origin. 

152. F Middleton. Tear Book of Henry VI. 1540 

153. H De Worde. Reproduced by kind permission 1 5 1 9 

from Mr Sayle's article, Nov. 1902 (Biblio- 
graphical Society). 

154. Q Faques. Manuale Sarum, Reproduced by kind 1530 

permission from Mr Sayle's article, Nov. 1902 
(Bibliographical Society). 

155. A Notary. Chronicles of England. Obtained 1504 

from Bocard of Paris. 

156. H Pynson. Libello huic regio hac insunt. White 1521 

on black ground, crible. 

157. P Notary. Golden Legend. Obtained from Bocard 1503 

of Paris. Reproduced by kind permission from 

l 39 

English Printers" Ornaments 

Mr Sayle's article, Nov. 1902 (Bibliographical 

158. T H. Middleton. Apostle series. 1584 

159. F Barker. Prayer Book. Arabesque design with 1580 

Walsingham Crest. 

160. T Barker. Prayer Book. Arabesque design with 1580 

printer's initials. 

161. F Eliots Court Press. Plutarch. Apostle series. 1603 

Seated figure. 

162. V Redman. Tear Books, Edward 111. White on 1540 

dead black ground. 

163. H Eliots Court Press. Plutarch. Apostle series. 1603 

Figure with nimbus. Staff in left hand ; book 
in right. 

164. S Berthelet. Bibl. Eliotce. Classical. Two 1559 

figures and satyr. 

165. H Printer unknown. Philip Sydney. Factotum, c. 1596 

Arabesque design. 

166. W Waldegrave. Factotum from Basilikon Doron. 1599 

Two figures plucking thistles. 

167. S Morley Canzonets. Pictorial. Previously in 1600 

the hands of John Day. 

168. T Eliots Court Press. Especially used by Brad- 1603-27 

wood. Decorative sprays. 

169. T Denham. Footepathe to Felicitie. Conventional 1577 



Description of Initials 

170. I Eliots Court Press. Especially used by Brad- 1603-27 

wood. Rose and thistle crowned. 

171. E Vautrollier. Ciceronis Epistolee. Outline letter. 1579 

Conventional sprays. 

172. D Barker. Prayer Book. Arabesque design. 1580 

173. D Newberrie. Bullinger s Sermons. Outline letter. 1 577 

Pictorial. Probably scene from Bible. 

174. S Siberch. Erasmus. De conscribendis epistolis. 1521 

Reproduced by kind permission of Messrs Bowes 
& Bowes of Cambridge. 

175. C Day. Fox, Book of Martyrs. Outline letter. 1562 

Conventional sprays. Bird with outstretched 
wings. Two grotesque figures. 

176. A Siberch. Erasmus. De conscribendis epistolis. 1521 

Reproduced by kind permission of Messrs Bowes 
& Bowes of Cambridge. White on black. Ecclesi- 
astical with decorative sprays. 



177-187. H. W. Caslon & Co., Ltd. Old English 18th 

borders. century 

188. The Morland Press, Ltd. Border design by Claud 1890- 

Lovat Fraser. Reproduced from the title-page 1921 
re-arranged by Haldane Macfall for The Lovat 

189. The Morland Press, Ltd. Tail-piece by Frank c. 1920 

Brangwyn, R.A., representing an initial F rising 
from tulip design. 

190. The Morland Press, Ltd. Head-piece basket of c. 1920 

flowers from design by Frank Brangwyn, R.A. 

191. The Morland Press, Ltd. Initials M. P. Design c. 1920 

by Ludovic Rodo. 

192-197. Chiswick Press. Six head-pieces. Conven- 1830- 

tional designs. 1923 

198-200. Chiswick Press. Three head-pieces, floral. I 830- 


201-202. Chiswick Press. Two tail-pieces. 1830- 


203-214. Chiswick Press. Twelve initials. Various 1830- 

designs. 1923 

215. University Press, Oxford. Phoenix ornament re- 17th 

produced from Hart's Century of Typography. century 


English Printers' Ornaments 

216. University Press, Oxford. B. Blooming initial re- 17th 

produced from Hart's Century of Typography. century 

217. University Press, Oxford. I. Initial reproduced 17th 

from Hart's Century of Typography. century 

218. University Press, Oxford. Head-piece reproduced 17th 

from Hart's Century of Typography. century 

219. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. Border design. 1920 

220. Do. do. do. 1920 

221. University Press, Oxford. Circular ornament, floral 18th 

design. century 

222. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. Border design, same 18th 

as 220. century 

223. University Press, Oxford. Fleuron tail-piece. 18th 


224. University Press, Oxford. Fleuron tail-piece of a 18th 

different design. century 

225. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. Bold foliage design for 1920 


226. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. B. White initial on 1920 

black background. 

227. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. T. White initial with 1920 

foliage on black background. 

228. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. Bold foliage design for 1920 

border same as 225. 

229. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. Head-piece, spirals of 1920 

foliage. White on black ground. 


Description of Modern Work 

230. R. & R. Clark, Ltd., Edinburgh. Decorative head- 1875 

piece designed by Walter Crane. 

231. P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. Tail-piece, triangular, 1920 

white on black ground. 

232. Pelican Press. Border design with centre orna- 1920 

ment. Copy of early arabesque design. 

233-240. Pelican Press. English flowers, seven designs. 1920 

241. Pelican Press. Border design after Geoffrey Tory. 1923 

242. Kelmscott Press. Design from Godefroy of 1893 


243-251. Curwen Press. Nine decorations designed by 1920 
Claud Lovat Fraser. 

252-260. Curwen Press. Nine flowers and decorations 1922 
designed by Percy J. Smith. 

261-273. Stephenson, Blake & Co., Ltd. Fourteen designs c. 1790 
of delicate flower borders, ornaments, and the 
famous rose border. 

274-284. Stephenson, Blake & Co., Ltd. Various designs c. 1780 
for borders, and initial S and two fine tail-pieces 
designed and executed by Bewick. 







IMPRESSA Londinf perRf* 
chatdtimPynfon regiu impreffo* 
tern cumpriuilegioaregein» 
dulto/ne quis nunc in re* 
gno Angti* imprimat/ 
aut alibi imprelTum/ 
de regno AngHg 



re met M tepus eft mikmU ne peiDas 
me t tcpoie tut tzemeDt tuDtcti/<© bone 
tt>efu ft meruf mtfer pctoz &toe:a tua tu 
fttcta pena mm jp prtte mete cpautfTt 
mis aD!)ur apello oftfuo cr tua tufttoa 
Deia aD tua nuam tneffabtfe/tottcfc mt 
fereberis met w pt? pater et mtfertcois 
Dff9/©bonetl;emqueemi)ttUta0i fa 
gutne meo Du Defcefczo <u coirupttotte 
etema fid mi moitui lauDabut te/neg* 
ofe qui teff etiDut in mfemu 0 tnxkw 
(oMttit iMu mtferere met © Buldff t 
me ti)efu libera me © pttffie f&efu jjpt 
riua efto mityi pitdii/0 t^eftt aDtmttt 
me mtfau pctoie inter numnu elector 
tuott 4D i|>efu Talus in te fpezanttu 
f&efu falus in te creDfrm mtferere met 
itjefu Dulcts remtffto otm pctop. me 
outm© t^efn fitt ligtnfa marie tnfuDe 
to me gram tua faptetteta capitate caltf 
tate \ {militate ac etia (it otb5 aduerf ita 
tibus mefe parfencia fcamut pofft te p 


15 1 



XX (LlBctn Carmctott carmen. 

w3lnglmp«pewojB:nbiDari^i^^mu|^o5. ' 
\y ^erperuumnometupecpctitum^Decus. I 

^epttmuglj^ncus^apieflcetlRcguiamo^inu \' 









%ty preface of aiejcan&ct Barclay pjeeft/unto t(j« 
rigtit i? pe anD migltfp prince : 'fc&omas 

magnificent wince : mpne 
bumble fetupct ; Due tmto 
pout grace. Blno ttjebebe* 
Imft affection u tjfebe J qa< 
uetonto pour bonoutfr pec* 
_ Ipetual fame ; impelletb mg 
often tpmcs to Deupfe/anD tcoolue tn mpnbe: 
Oo/c6uen(entanD acceptable tmto pout bpgb' 
nelTe : ttjertrp to tefttfp Hje bonouc / tbe loue/i 
obfeciup:n)b(cbe 3 fenourfege mp felfe to o toe 
Unto poutmagmftcccc* ©ut tt&an J eofpoec 


mo in Chnlto patri ac dno:dno 
Ioanni Veyfy Exonien epifcopo 
Alexander Barclay prefbytcr de 
bi'ta cum obferuantia.S. 

MEMINI mefupcrf 
tinbua arms cu ad» 
hucfacelli tegij pre* 
ful efles:paltor vigi U 
tiffime : tins fuafiombus inmatft: 
vr Cdfpi Salufrij hyftoriaCqui Iti 
gurthynuin belluvocant )eroma» 
a alia* 





^ I Eterno maniura die dumiidcra fulgent 

Equora dumq; foment hec lainra noftra virebit. 
Hincnortrumcelebre ctndmerefereturadaftra.7* g 
Vndiq;Skel tonismemofibitaraI teradonig AfU 

1 1 








l 75 



To The 

Right Woorfliipfull, Sir George 
Carey, Knight, Knight MarfhaU of hir 
Mai'efhes moft Honorable houfliold, 
Sonne and heire apparent to the right 
nondurable LordH ENSil, 
Lordof Hunfdm,&c 



To the moft vertuous and godlie 
minded Ladic, the Ladle Eliza- 
8bth his wife, long life, 
andhappie daies. 


YZ^V$V>% f • al things 

r.^Sj^r£ ! mder the funne (R'tkt 
■ Wcerfiiffull (whicbare 
[ at greatejt iifagreement, 
! the motions of mans 
j mi»4, by the tudgement 
of tlx kxrnid.are tn (uih 
a degree of contrarteite , that they are [aid 
to be at mutual! ftrifi, lyraafenof that fame 
^•TTTaSfia* Xj uazrivJov m^tfMt, which our 
corrupt nature , confirmed by ttuli tuHcme, 
doth procure. 



to Felicitie, 

Which euerie Qhrifliw 
muft walke in, before 

he can ante to the Uni 
of Canaan. 

By Abraham Fleming. 


1 1 What man is he that feareth the 
Lord ( . him fliall he teach in the way 
that he fliall choofe. 

II His ioulcflialldwellateafe,and 
his feed fliall inherit the land. 
sAfoc.Xi. 14. 

14 Bleffed are they that doe Cods 
commaundements , that their right 
may be in the tree of life, and may 
enter in through the gates into the 

At I ondojj 

Printed by Peter Short. 




v( CU3Q11 





2 5 


2 7 



Youths Jnftrudtion . 



by William Martyn * 
E j quires . 

Recorder of the honourable 
Citie of E xeter. 

The fecond Edition. 

e J > re^at non nafci ; 
£)uam male voter e, 


Printed by lohn Beale, for Richard ^ 
Rcdmir, and arc to be lold at the Star at nc^aKW 
the weft end of TWj. i^ij. ^Ca3uA 




k -^5 c^Jls ir J v> ^-ta <ir^3 cT" 














l 95 
















21 1 


2I 3 























Qucm referent Muja vtuet dum rohorA tellus^ 
Dum itilum JIcIIas^ dum vefyet minis aquas. 

Printed London hy E>AS&xIohn Tap, and arc 
to be fold at his £hop at Saint Magous 
comer, i 6 I o. 




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Ornament 1 

Ornament 2 

Ornament 3 

Ornament 4, 

Ornament 5 

Ornament 6 

Ornament 7 

Ornament 8 

Ornament 9 
Ornament 10 

Ornament 11 

Ornament 13 

Ornament 12 

Ornament 14 

I3S-H 8 







Modern W irk 






Old English Borders from the Foundry of 
Messrs H. W. Caslon & Co., Ltd. 


Modern W irk 




Old English Borders from the Foundry of 
Messrs H. W. Caslon & Co., Ltd. 

2 5* 

Modern W irk 


A Border from The Morland Press, Ltd. 

Modern W irk 

Modern Work 

Modern W irk 

Modern Work 

Modern Work 

Modern W irk 





223 224 

Designs from the Foundry of Messrs P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. (219, 
220, 222), and from The University Press, Oxford (221, 223, 224). 


Modern Work 

Modern Work 


Messrs P. M. Shanks & Sons, Ltd. 

Modern W irk 


Ornamental Border from The Pelican Press. 

Modern W irk 

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Designs from The Pelican Press. 



2 73 

Modern Work 

Modern W irk 

ecbe other lettree and messages for taccorde to goo 
to gydre, apoynted the tyme of departing, and of 
t he way e that they sholde bolde. 

JSfDwbanJVIarcbewas comcyesbolde 
haue seen horses arrayed, with sonv 
myers, palfroyes, and stedes, tentes 
andpauyllons,andtomake armures. 
j^Y e niaye wel knowe that there was 
moche to doo of many tbynges, ffor 
the barons were acorded that they sbold not goo 
alle to gydre, ffor no con tre my gbt suffysene f ynde 
that which sbold be nedeful for them, ffor wbicbe 
cause alle the boostes neuyr assembled, as ye sbal 
here, tyl tbey cam vnto the cyte of JVycene j?TJbe 
menepeple charged them self not mocbe with tentes 
ne armures, ffor tbey mygbt not bere it, & tberf or 
euery man gamyssbid bym af tir that bewas with 


Design from The Kelmscott Press. Reproduced by kind permission 
of the Trustees from a block by Emery Walker, Ltd. 


Modern W irk 

Printers' Decorations Designed by the late Claud Lovat Fraser, 
for the Curwen Press in 1920 


M odern W irk 

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Printers' Flowers and Decorations, designed by Percy J. Smith, 
for the Curwen Press in 1922 


Modern W irk 


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Old English Designs from the Foundry of 
Messrs Stephenson, Blake & Co., Ltd. 


Modern W irk 


Old English Designs from the Foundry of 
Messrs Stephenson, Blake & Co., Ltd. 




Acorn ornament, 60 
Aldus, 34, 113 
Allde, Eliz., 86 

Ames collection of title-pages, 55 
Ancient and Present State of Glouces- 
tershire, 77 
Antigone, Sophocles, tail-piece, 57 
Antiquities of Warwickshire, 27 
1 Apostle ' alphabet, 96, 97 
Arundel, Earl of, 21 
Ashendene Press, no 
Atheist's Tragedy, 86 


Bagford collection of title-pages, 55 

Barbier, J., 37 

Barker, R., 73 

Barnes, Joseph, 25 

Baskerville, J., 63 

Basle, Material obtained from, 22 

Beale, J., 50 

Berthelet, T., 13, 23, 46 

Initials used by, 93 
Bewick, T., 29 
Bibliotheca Eliotce, 93 
Blake, Garnett & Co., 113 
Bocard, J., Initials of, 94 
Bodoni Press, 1 1 1 
Bollifant, Ed., 25 

Borrowings by English printers, 90 
Bourne's History of Newcastle, 79 
Bowes, R., Catalogue oj Books printed 

at Cambridge, 79 
Bowyer, Wm., 29, 61, 77 


Bradwood, M., 25, 72 
Brangwyn, F., 114 

Brieje Treatise oj Testaments and 

Wills, 85 
Bry, T. de, 113 
Buck, T., 52 
Buck, T. & J., 97 
Bullock, H., 26 

Burghers, M., Influence of, 29 

Head and tail pieces designed by, 

74> 75 
Initials designed by, 97 

Burghers, M., 51, 77 

Burleigh family crest as ornament, 85 

Burne-Jones, Sir E., 113 

Burns, Poems, Border to, 51 

Butsch's Biicher Ornamentik, 90 

Bynneman, H., 24, 25, 48, 70, 73, 84, 



Cambridge Univ. Press, 116 

Carmelianus, Petrus, 43 

Caslon, W., 61, 115 

Caslon foundry, modern history, 1 1 1 

Casting-house, 11 

Catherine oj Siena, 94 

Caveat or W arneing, etc., tail-piece 

described, 68 
Caxton, 18, 19, 20, 21, 35, 36, 56 
Center oj the Circle oj Commerce, 86 
Change in character of head and tail 

pieces, 76 
Chaucer's Works, 33 
Chrysostum, 25 


English Printers' Ornaments 

Ciceronis, Epistola?, 69 
Clarendon's History oj the Rebellion, 

Clark, R. & R., 113 
Clavis Apocalyptica, Border to, 52 
Classical designs of initials, 93 
Combination of fleuron and decora- 
tive block, 50 
Commentary, Lathbury's, 34 
Complete History oj Cornwall, 80 
Copland, R., 20 
Copy oj a Letter, etc., 72, 73 
Copyists, Work of, 27 
Cosmographical Glasse, 57, 93 
Cowley, Dr, 38 
Crane, W., 113 
Creede, T., 48 
Crown ornament, 60 
Crownfield, C, 79 
Curious head-piece design, 73 
Curwen Press, 1 14 


Daniel, R., 52 
Day, J., 23, 93, 94 
De Anima, Aristotle's, 34 
Decorative blocks, date of introduc- 
tion, 67 

Eighteenth century, 28 

used by Eliots Court printers, 71 
Decorative head and tail pieces, 69 
Denham, H., 24, 25 

Borders used by, 48 

Initials used by, 96 
De Rep. Anglorum, 69 
Description oj New England, 86 
Diary oj Lady Willoughby, 105, 112 
Dionysius, Border in, 52 
Doves Press, 110 
Duff, E. G., quoted, 18, 47, 55 
Du Pre, 17, 34 

Dutch ornaments in English books, 27 

Early English printers of fifteenth 

century, 18 
Early Newcastle typography, 80 
Early printers, Methods of, 4, 5 
Early V enetian Printing, 90 
East, T., 48 

Ecclesiastical character of first 

initials, 89 
Edward IV., patron of Caxton, 21 
Eliots Court Press, 25, 28, 70, 85, 86 
Eliots Court printers, Initials of, 91 


Elizabeth, Queen, 24 

English Illustrated Magazine, 113 

Engraved borders to Bibles, 22 

Engraved title-pages, 49 

Enterlude called Lusty Juventus, 59 

Euphues, his Censure to Philautus, 86 

Exhibition of twentieth century 

books, no 
Exposition on Epistle to Romans, 73 

Factotums, 98, 99 

Faques, Border used by, 43, 45, 59, 

Fenton, G., 71 
Field, R., 71 
Fifteen Oes, 35, 39 
Fior de Virtu, 21 
Fletcher, M., 73 
Fleuron, 6, 7, 26 et passim 
borders, 47 

Date of introduction of, 57 

as head and tail piece, 63 

its use for factotums, 100 

Variations of, 58, 59 
Fleur-de-lys ornament, 60 
Footepath to Felicitie, 48, 96 
Foreign border-pieces, 22 



Foxe, J., Book of Martyrs, 95 
France, Use of flowers in, 9 
Fraser, C. L., 114 
Fuller's Church History, 97 


Garden oj the Muses, 57 
Garlandea, J. de, 83 
Germany, Use of flowers in, 9 
Gibson, Robert, 23 
Goodly Garland, Borders in, 45 
Grafton, R., 23 
Gratulationis V aldinensis, 85 
Gray's Elegy, Border to, 51 
Greate Herb all, 46 
Greg, Dr W. W., 13 
Griffin, Edw. (I.), 25 
Griffin, Edw. (II.), 25, 72 
Grotesque initials, 94 
Grover, J., 27 


H. F., designer of ornaments, 78 
Hales, Alex, of, 34 
Hart, H., 115 
Hatfield, A., 25 
Hatton, Sir C, 84 
Haviland, John, 25 
Henry VII., King, 21 
Henry VIII., King, 21 
Heraldic and personal initials, 94 
Hickscomer, 43 
History oj Guicciardini, 71 
History oj Origin and Progress oj 

Printing, 7 
History oj the Rebellion, 97 
Holbein, 113 

Holinshed's Chronicles, 70, 71 
Hollar, W., 27 
Homer, Workes, 71 
Hornby, St John, 110 


Housman, L., 1 13 
Hughes, A. P., 113 
Huvin, J., of Rouen, 37 
Hypnerotomachia, 21 


Illuminator, his advantage over 

printer, 17 
Improvement in decoration of printed 

books, 17 

Initial letters, their value as orna- 
ments, 89 

Initials in Bibles and Books of Common 
Prayer, 92 

Islip, A., 73 


Jackson, wood-engraver, 8 

Jennings, Dr Oscar, 91 

Jenson, N., 17, 34 

Jewell, B., Works, 72 

Johnson, Dr, and Goldsmith, 116, 117 

Jones, W., 86 

Jugge, R., 28, 57, 96 


Kelmscott Press, 106-110 
King Lear, 86 
Kingston, F., 86 
Kingston and Sutton, 68 
Kyrforth, C, 25 


Lair, see Siberch 
Leeu, G., 17 
Legat, J., 26 

Legenda Aurea, 40, 41, 42 

Initial from, 92 
Leicester, Earl of, Arms of, 94 
Leicester family, Crest of, 85 
Lettou and Machlinia, 19 

English Printers' Ornaments 

Libellus de Conscribendis, 95 
Liber precum publicarum, 60 
Longman, T., 1 1 1 
Lownes, H., 24, 73, 86 
Lownes, R., 73 

Lozenge ornament, First use of, 59 
Luckombe, 7, 8, 9 
Lucretius, De rerum natura, jj 
Lyttleton's Tenures, 47 


M. M., designer of ornaments, 78 
Machlinia, Border used by, 35 
McKerrow, R. B., on ornamental 

device, 13, 44, 46 
McRae, J. F., 61, 111 
Maltese cross as ornament, 22 
Malynes, G., 86 

Manuscripts, Decoration of, 3, 4 
Margaret, Duchess of Richmond, 21 
Mer des Hystoires, 21 
Miscellaneous ornaments, 83 
Missal, Border to Morton's, 38 
Modus Tenendi, 47 
Monasticon Anglic anum, 26 
Monomachie oj Motives, 48 
Montaigne, 72 
Morland Press, 114 
Morris, William, and the Kelmscott 

Press, 106-110 
Morton, Cardinal John, 21, 37, 38 
Morton Missal, Initials from, 92 
Moxon, Joseph, 27 
Multorum Vocabulorum, 83 


Newberrie, R., 93 

Nezve Booke — An Exhortation, etc., 68 

Newton, N., 25 

New World oj Words, 72 

Norton, J., 72 

Notary, J., 22 

Borders used by, 37, 40, 41, 42 
Initials of, 94 


Odd blocks used for head and tail 

pieces, 67 
Odes oj Horace, 79 
Old English Letter Foundries, 24 
Orcharde oj Syon, 46 
Ornaments, Definition of, 12 

in Caslon's specimen sheets, 61 
Os, G. van, 22, 94 
Oswen, John, 68 

Borders used by, 47 
Oxford University Press, 25, 115 


Paragraph marks, 4, 22 

Paragraph ornaments, 6, 83, 84 

Parker, Archbishop, 24, 94 

Parr, Rev. E., 73 

Pelican Press, 114 

Philomythie, Border in, 49 

Pictures, ornamental blocks so de- 
scribed, 1 1 

Pigouchet, 17, 34 

Pilgrimes Solace, 74 

Pollard, Prof. A. W., 55, 91, 97 

Poverty of ornament in sixteenth 
century English books, Reasons 
for, 18, 19, 20, 21 

Printers'' and Publishers' Devices, 13, 

Purslowe, G., 25, 73 
Pynson, R., 19, 35, 37, 38, 43, 56, 
59, 61, 83, 94, 95 


Quidam, 21 




Ratdolt, E., 17, 34, 114 
Redman, R., 59, 84 

Initial of, 95 
Redmer, R., 86 
Reed, T. B., 24 

Reformation, its effect on book 

decoration, 22 
Reynes, John, Initial of, 94 
Ribbon ornament, 60 

Baskerville's, 64 
Rivers, Earl, 21 
Rood, T., 20, 34, 38 
Rose ornament, 60 
Royal Arms as ornament, 85 


St Albans Chronicle, 40, 41, 42, 43 
S alius t, Border to, 45 
Sanderson, Cobden, no 
Sarum Missal, 68 
Saxon type cut by J. Day, 24 
Sayle, C, 24, 55, 91, 97 
Scolar, John, 25 
Seres, W., 23 

Sermon preached at Stafford, 63 
Seven Sorrows that Women have, etc., 

20, 21 
Shanks, Messrs, 114 
Short, P., 24 

Shyp oj Folys, Borders in, 44, 45 
Siberch, John, 26 

Border used by, 51 

Initials used by, 93, 95 
Siegburg, see Siberch 
Silver, S., of Sandwich, 63 
Small ornaments of the eighteenth 

century, 62, 63 
Smith, P. J., 91, 114 
Smith, T. W, 112 
Stafford, S., 73 

Star ornament, 60 

Statutes jth Henry VI., 6y 

Statutes lyth Henry VII., 43 

Stephenson, Blake & Co., Ltd., 113 

Stepneth, 86 

Stokes, M., 113 

Sun Printing Office, 1 1 

Sylvius, Anton, 24, 93 


Tail-piece in 1679 Herodotus, 27 
Thistle ornament, 60 
Thomas, T., 26 

Thomson, J., Poem on Liberty, 78 
Tonson, J., and J. Watts, 77 
Tory, G., 114 
Tottell, R., 23 

Treatise made by Athanasius, 57 
Treveris, P., 46 

Two Centuries oj Type-jounding, 61, 

Type-founders in England, 27 


Urn ornament, 60 

Vautrollier, 60, 69, 84 
Initials used by, 95 
Venetian printers, 33 
Verard, A., 89 
Vostre, 34 


Waldegrave, 99 
Walker, Emery, no, 113 
Walsingham, F., Crest and Arms of ; 

Watts, John, 61 
Whitchurch, Ed., 23, 94 
White, John, 79 



English Printers' Ornaments 

White Wolj, 49 

Whittingham, C, the elder and 

younger, 103, 104, 111 
Windet, John, 85 
Window frame borders, 46 
Wolfe, R., 23, 93, 96 
Woodcut borders, seventeenth cen- 
tury, 26 

Worde, W. de, 19, 37, 39, 43, 56, 
59, 68, 94 

Works of George Farquhar, 78 
Works of Sir W. Temple, 78 
Wyer, Robert, 68 


Tear Books of Edward ITT., Border in, 

Tear Book, nth Henry VI., 59 
Touth's Instructor, Border in, 50