What is that printmaking symbol called?
July 10, 2008 6:45 PM   Subscribe

What is that symbol one finds at the beginnings or endings of chapters of books called? It's like a little arabesque, but with a (reasonably) flat bottom or top.
posted by damnthesehumanhands to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: That's a little vague. Maybe a fleuron?
posted by smackfu at 7:11 PM on July 10, 2008

Do you mean that particular symbol, or the name for decorative symbols like that in general?
posted by hattifattener at 7:13 PM on July 10, 2008

Maybe you mean a section sign? Your question might be too vague; can you scan one in or take digital photo?
posted by bcwinters at 7:20 PM on July 10, 2008

Response by poster: I'm sorry for the ambiguous nature of the question. I'm even sorrier I don't have an example. But the fleuron is dangerously close. It's like those, but with the arabesque-y parts pointing down and the design has a flat top. Over that top is the number of the chapter or the title of the chapter. It may indeed just be a specialized type of fleuron.

Either way, I have found the symbol which will end my handout on "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" for my students in Sophomore Lit tomorrow. Thanks, Smackfu!

Hattifattener - Is "fleuron" the "name for decorative symbols like that in general" you were thinking of? Did you have another word for it?
posted by damnthesehumanhands at 7:23 PM on July 10, 2008

Best answer: I think I know the symbol dthh is talking about; it could be a really stylized fleuron, or it could be a simple calligraphic ornament. Do you mean the kinds of things in this font? If not can you find the symbol elsewhere in that font catalogue, or maybe here?
posted by hattifattener at 7:24 PM on July 10, 2008 [4 favorites]

woo, simulpost.

I think it's only a fleuron if it's floral. It's an ornament of some kind, but I don't know if there's a name for the vaguely-arabesque-or-copperplate-calligraphic symbol.
posted by hattifattener at 7:26 PM on July 10, 2008

Response by poster: It looks a lot like this. However, in that image, the "line" at the top is more implied than explicit.

And holy shit, hattifattener, that "fromoldbooks" link went straight to the bookmarks folder. That thing is a goldmine.
posted by damnthesehumanhands at 7:40 PM on July 10, 2008

Dingbat! That's the generic, at least.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:43 PM on July 10, 2008

I think we're thinking of the same symbol, then, but I have no idea what it's specifically called. "Vignette", "scroll", and "flourish" are also keywords that seem to point in the right direction. Chapter tailpieces sometimes look like it but that term's apparently 'way too broad to get useful image results.
posted by hattifattener at 7:48 PM on July 10, 2008

The category of graphics is called "ornaments" and within are subcategories of swirls, swashes, and florals. The individual instances of those marks don't have individual names because, in part, they were originally unique to the typesetter or printer. That's one way a printer would try to distinguish themselves from competitors. ("Come to Pete's Prints! We have the best swashes in town!") The whole class of ornaments is actually an interesting holdover from when calligraphers transitioned into type designers. Most attempts were miserable failures. Ornaments was one success.
posted by ochenk at 8:42 PM on July 10, 2008

posted by violetk at 10:01 PM on July 10, 2008

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