The Ornaments in Swedenborg's Theological First Editions
Jonathan S. Rose, M.Div., Ph.D.


Headpieces are ornaments a full line's width and many lines in height that appear at the top of a new page. Swedenborg uses sixteen different headpiece ornaments a total of forty-one times. Ten of them occur just once, the other six more often with a maximum of eleven occurrences (Headpiece 14). Headpieces announce the beginning of the main text of either a whole volume or at least a major division of it. For example Swedenborg uses a headpiece, a line ornament, and an initial at the beginning of Conjugial Love, then repeats the same headpiece with a different line ornament and another initial to mark the beginning of the second part (paragraphs 423 to 535). Similarly in Heaven and Hell a headpiece with birds and flowers begins the section on heaven (Headpiece 04), a geometric headpiece the section on the world of spirits (Headpiece 11), and another geometric headpiece the section on hell (Headpiece 12). The five sections of Divine Love and Wisdom each begin their main text with headpieces, a headpiece of vines and flowers introducing each of the first two sections (Headpiece 14), while a headpiece of dogs chasing foxes introduces each of the last three sections (Headpiece 16). Headpieces also demarcate grand segments of Earths in the Universe and of Continuation concerning the Last Judgment.

The largest, most significant, and to my mind most beautiful headpiece is the first (Headpiece 01). It occurs on page one of Arcana Coelestia volume one. Its generally symmetrical frame with two large cornucopiae encircles a vignette of someone turning the earth with a long handled tool. A tree with lots of foliage stands in the right foreground behind the digger's back, while other trees stand high but afar off above a distant horizon. The same ornament recurs three times in later volumes.

Since Arcana Coelestia volume one expounds early Genesis, the digger could be a now clothed Adam tilling the soil outside Eden. The ornament may also relate to "the old man who digs," the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences' insignia of a bald elderly man planting trees, used to convey that group's purpose of laboring to better a future they would not be alive to enjoy. This ornament shares a gardening and cultivation motif with Title Page Ornament 05 (discussed above), another significantly placed ornament. The latter with its motto and the former both call to mind True Christian Religion paragraph 531 in which Swedenborg vividly compares repentance to cultivation of wild land.

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Headpiece Ornament 01: London


Occurs four times.
AC1.1; AC2/III.5; AC6.3; WH.3.

Headpiece Ornament 02: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 03: London


Occurs four times.
AC2/I.5,/V.3; AC3.5; EU.3.

Headpiece Ornament 04: London


Occurs six times.
AC2/II.3,IV.3; AC8.3; HH.3; HD.3; LJ.3.

Headpiece Ornament 05: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 06: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 07: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 08: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 09: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 10: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 11: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 12: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 13: London


Occurs once.

Headpiece Ornament 14: Amsterdam


Occurs eleven times.
DL.3; SS.3; LI.3; FA.3; CJ.3; DW.3,25; DP.3; AR.5; CL.3,253.

Headpiece Ornament 15: Amsterdam


Occurs twice.
DL.5; BE.3.

Headpiece Ornament 16: Amsterdam


Occurs four times.
CJ.12; DW.48,87,114.

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