The Ornaments in Swedenborg's Theological First Editions

Jonathan S. Rose

Covenant 1.4 (1998): 293–362.


Editor's Note
Scanned Versions of Ornaments
Title Page Ornaments
Line Ornaments
Appendix on the Authorship of the Ornaments
Swedenborg's Role

Editor's Note

Swedenborg's theological first editions are rich with ornaments. Swedenborg sent his theological contribution into the world heavily and consistently adorned with graphic decorative touches. Yet few know of their existence. Although every theological word penned by Swedenborg has long ago been translated into English, although subsequent Latin editions, and translations into four languages, have brought his unique thoughts and experiences before the world, the ornaments themselves that formed an integral part of his original publications have been all but lost" (Jonathan S. Rose, Covenant, Spring, 1998).

The ornaments presented on this Web site were collected for an article written by the Rev. Dr. Jonathan S. Rose, published by Glencairn Museum, The Academy of the New Church, in the Museum's journal Covenant, Vol. 1, No. 4, Spring 1998. When it first appeared, the article generated considerable interest. Most readers were viewing the ornaments for the first time, and a number of extra copies of the issue were sold (they are no longer for sale). Since that time the ornaments have appeared in various Swedenborgian publications, and we have received a number of requests for the original scanned images. This online version of the article was produced in order to make the Swedenborg ornaments available to a worldwide audience, and to provide easy access to the original scans for people who wish to use them for educational purposes.

A high quality .tif file of each image can be downloaded by left clicking on the image; a lower quality .gif file, suitable for viewing on a computer monitor, can be downloaded by right clicking on the image. The images can be edited in a graphics program such as Photoshop.

Dr. Rose has served as Assistant Professor of Religion and Greek at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church, and Curator of the Swedenborgiana collection at the Academy of the New Church's Swedenborg Library. He now works for the Swedenborg Foundation as Series Editor of The New Century Edition of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg. His article on Swedenborg's use of ornaments in the Latin first editions of his works breaks new ground—it is both the first article to appear on the subject, and the first comprehensive catalog of the ornaments themselves.

In the article, Dr. Rose points out that, while Swedenborg has been published and translated widely, the numerous ornaments that originally adorned the text of his first editions are almost completely unknown. All of these ornaments have now been brought together in one place, thanks to Dr. Rose's research and the work of Amos Glenn, a research assistant at Glencairn Museum. Mr. Glenn spent many hours in the Swedenborgiana collection, first scanning the ornaments directly from the original 18th century Latin texts into a computer, and then carefully cleaning the images without altering them.

Dr. Rose's analysis of these ornaments concludes with a discussion of the possibility that Swedenborg engraved the ornaments himself. In the article, evidence is presented both for and against this intriguing possibility. The designs are arranged into six different categories: Title Page Ornaments, Headpieces, Initials, Line Ornaments, Asterisks, and Tailpieces. For the most part the categories are distinctive, although three designs do appear in more than one category.

The article concludes with the possibility that a headpiece from one of Swedenborg's pre-theological works might be a self-portrait by Swedenborg. This headpiece is included at the end of the article. Whether or not Swedenborg was the creator of these ornaments, he did choose them, and they stand as a testament to his love of beauty and to the importance he placed on the physical details of the first editions of his theological works.

The images on this Web site may be used for educational purposes, but may not be placed in the public domain. Any commercial reproduction, redistribution, publication or other use by electronic means or otherwise, is prohibited without written permission from The Academy of the New Church.

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