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 (learn more here), not least for their importance as examples of early graphic design and craftsmanship. These miniature works of art can help solve the mysteries of the book trade, and they can be used to detect piracy and fraud.

Try browsing Compositor's ornaments by date, printer, city, or author, or search for a specific ornament or book.