The turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement revitalized many art-craft domains, including of course typography. One sidelight to the typographic art, but one in which many printers specialized, was the typographical ornament — long a tradition among the very earliest printers, once again brought to the avant garde of design.
The best American and European printers offered whole catalogs of original ornament in the Art Nouveau manner — today they survive only in the archives of printers and historians of type. Here, from the archives of a contemporary typesetter and printing historian, is a selection of authentic Art Nouveau typographic ornament, culled out of late 19th and early 20th century specimen catalogs. Over 800 ornaments of all types include the patented Art Nouveau florals and flowing botanic wonders, both realistic and abstract. Women draped in pagan robes form borders and head and tailpieces. Animals abound: fish, elephants, turtles, birds, and creatures of myth and fancy. Innumerable spots, shapes, symbols, emblems, wreaths, scrolls, cherubs, and gargoyles show in clear black and white how they will look decorating menus, posters, handbills, ads, books, any functional or artistic project needing a flavor of Art Nouveau. Printers will be pleased to complement their Auriol, Baldur, Cordova, and Metropolitan, or other Art Nouveau–style typefaces with these unusual, long-forgotten ornaments. Mirror images given for many of the designs increase their utility. All images are from original sources, all copyright-free.