Ornaments in the Theological First Editions of Emanuel Swedenborg

coronissmall.jpg“Emanuel 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 thirty-four languages, have brought his unique thoughts and experiences before the world, the ornaments that formed an integral part of his original publications have been all but lost” (Jonathan Rose, “The Ornaments in Swedenborg’s Theological First Editions,” Covenant, vol. 1, no. 4, Spring 1998).

titlepage05.jpgIn 1998, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Rose published a detailed study of the ornaments in Emanuel Swedenborg’s theological first editions in Covenant, a journal published by Glencairn Museum, Bryn Athyn, PA. All of the ornaments from Swedenborg’s theological first editions were reproduced in this article, organized into six categories: title page ornaments, headpieces, initials, line ornaments, asterisks, and tailpieces. The article is currently available online at NewChurchHistory.org, where all of the ornaments can be downloaded for educational purposes.

initial01.jpgIn his analysis of the ornaments, Rose discusses whether Swedenborg may have created some of them personally, and presents evidence both for and against this possibility. However, regardless of whether or not he produced the ornaments himself, Rose establishes that Swedenborg was closely involved in the publication of his works, and made detailed decisions about how his printed first editions would look.

tailpiece13.jpgInterest in Swedenborg’s ornaments has led to their use in a number of current New Church publications over the last decade, granting them exposure to a whole new generation of readers.

Photos: The top photograph was taken from the title page of a first edition copy of Coronis, which was formerly in the library of John Pitcairn, Bryn Athyn, PA. The book is now part of the Swedenborgiana collection of the Swedenborg Library, Bryn Athyn, PA. The other ornaments were originally scanned from Swedenborg first editions in the Swedenborg Library by Rev. Amos Glenn; all are available for download in the online version of the article published in Covenant.

Questions and comments may be addressed to the editors at [email protected]

May 21, 2010 | Posted by: Ed and Kirsten Gyllenhaal in New Church History Fun Fact