Book cover: Klinkhardt Typefoundry
Gesamt-Probe der Schriftgiesserei Julius Klinkhardt (Complete Sample Collection from the Julius Klinkhardt Typefoundry), vol. 2, Leipzig and Vienna: Klinkhardt 1890. The cover of this type specimen book is abundantly decorated with elaborate ornamentation typical of the tastes of the era.
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Leipzig


The A-Z of industrialisation

… unfortunate tendency of our time to be content with copying (…) the forms peculiar to any bygone age, without attempting to ascertain, generally completely ignoring, the peculiar circumstances which rendered an ornament beautiful …

Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament, 1856

Ornament is a form of decoration that is usually repetitive and it can be of a representational or abstract nature. Unlike other graphic or figurative images (Illustration), it is only of low informational value, and yet it lends products, especially those manufactured in mass production processes (Factory) and under the division of labour a distinctive nuance. An ornament can provide surfaces with a structure, fill them out or give them a frame, and is used in books when designing the title page, the main body of text and the cover.

Ornaments are symbols that exist within a cultural context and should be read as such. In his work The Grammar of Ornament(1856), the influential British architect and design theoretician Jones (1809-1874) brought together a historical analysis of ornamentation with a general appeal for education: “We cannot expect any progress in the arts of the present generation until all classes, artists, manufacturers and the public in general can be educated to have a more consummate insight into art, and to have a better knowledge of its underlying general principles.”