Compositor is a database of eighteenth-century printers’ ornaments. Eighteenth-century books were highly decorated and decorative. Their pages were adorned with ornaments that ranged from small floral embellishments to large and intricate head- and tailpieces, depicting all manner of people, places, and things. Compositor includes ornaments cut by hand in blocks of wood or metal, as well as cast ornaments, engravings, and fleurons (ornamental typography).

Printers’ ornaments are of interest to historians from many disciplines, not least for their importance as examples of early graphic design and craft. These miniature works of art can help solve some of the mysteries of the book trade.

Try browsing Compositor's ornaments by date, printer, city, or author, or search for a specific ornament or book. You can learn how to use the Visual Search here


You can explore this website to learn more about the Compositor project and the images in our database: