Entete TODAI
PassePartout: Banque internationale d'ornements d'imprimerie



The aim of Passe-Partout is to make available to researchers in the field of book history an international database of printers' ornaments.

Built around archives of locally-provided data, Passe-Partout operates on the non-profit basis of exchange and cooperation.

All users can freely consult the database of ornaments and make use of the information they find. Maintenance of the database (addition, suppression or modification of data) is however restricted to recognized researchers or institutions.Those persons and research centres wishing to obtain an autorisation for such participation should adress their request to the person in charge of the central data bank Silvio.Corsini@bcu.unil.ch


How to interrogate Passe-Partout ?


The central database of printers' ornaments is located at the University of Lausanne.

Two types of interrogation are possible:

  • Using the computer search program TODAI based on the comparison of images (software developed in 1996 and 2000 by the LTS of the EPF of Lausanne, St?phane Michel, and the Signal Analysis chair of Halmstad University, Heike Walter, under the supervision of Dr Josef Bigun)
  • Using descriptive keywords: the program displays those ornaments which have been indexed with the aid of selected keywords.

To achieve a greater degree of search accuracy several pre-selections may be applied:

  • specifying the nature of ornament (ie: typographical composition)
  • specifying the way in which the ornament is used (ie: headpiece)
  • specifying the dimensions of the ornament (in mm)
  • specifying the artist's signature (as it is shown on the ornament being sought)
  • specifying a printer's device or motto


Required configuration:
  • Firefox (ab version 1)
  • Safari (ab version 1.3)
  • Netscape (ab version 7)
  • Internet Explorer ()
  • Options "JavaScript and Cookie" enabled


Research centres participating in Passe-Partout


Associated institutions

Centre international d'étude du XVIIIe siècle, Ferney-Voltaire


Other on-line ornament databases

Université de Liège, projet Moriane


The utility of the study of printing ornaments

Numerous editions published in the past centuries, and especially in the eighteenth century, do not reveal on the title page their true origin. Fictious (London, by Bold Truth) or misleading addresses (Amsterdam, and on sale in Lausanne, by F. Grasset) are legion and researchers have felt the need to elaborate identification techniques based on a detailed study of the compositorial material and of the typographic practices of printers.The study of printers' ornaments has a crucial role to play in the identification of printers which in turn allows the scholar to assess the textual signifiance of the editions in question.


Bibliographical guidelines

Concerning the utility of the study of printers' ornaments:

Parguez, Guy, «Essai sur l'origine lyonnaise d'éditions clandestines de la fin du XVIIe siècle», in : Nouvelles études lyonnaises, Genève et Paris, 1969, pp. 93-130

Vercruysse, Jeroom, «Typologie de Marc-Michel Rey», in : Buch und Buchhandel in Europa im achtzehnten Jahrhundert, Hamburg, 1981, pp. 167-185

Mitchell, C. J., «The taxonomy of printers's ornaments», in : The Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin, 9(1985), pp. 45-60

Brown, Andrew, «Voltaire and Cramer?», in : Le siècle de Voltaire. Hommage à René Pomeau, Oxford, 1987, pp. 149-183.

Droixhe, Daniel, «Systèmes ornementaux; le cas liégeois», in : Etudes sur le XVIIIe siècle, 14(1987), pp. 39-74

Corsini, Silvio, «Vers un corpus des ornements typographiques lausannois du XVIIIe siècle: problèmes de définition et de méthode», in : Ornementation typographique et bibliographie historique, actes du colloque de Mons, août 1987, Mons, 1988, pp. 139-158

Corsini, Silvio, «L'édition française hors des frontières du royaume: les presses lausannoises sous la loupe», in : Revue française d'histoire du livre, Nos 62-63 (1989), pp. 93-119

Droixhe, Daniel, «C'est le bouquet... Histoire d'un ornement typographique liégeois du XVIIIe siècle», in : Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 1994, pp. 211-228

Droixhe, Daniel (avec la collab. de Nadine Vanwelkenhuysen), «Ce que tromper veut dire: à propos des éditions maestrichoises d'Helvétius (1774-1777)», in : Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 329(1995), pp. 197-233

Smith, David Warner, «False imprints: identifying the publishers of surreptitious French works of the eighteenth century», in : O livro e a leitura, coodenação João Luís Lisboa, Lisboa, 1997, pp. 207-220

Concerning the software of recognition of ornaments TODAI:

Bigün, J. / Bhattacharjee, S.K. / Michel, S., «Orientation Radiograms for Image Retrieval: an Alternative to Segmentation», in : Proceedings of the ICPR-96, Vienna, pp. 346-350

Michel, S. / Karoubi, B, / Bigün, J. / Corsini, S., «Orientation radiograms for indexing and identification in image databases», in : European Conference on Signal Processing (Eupsico), Trieste, 10-13 septembre 1996, pp. 1693-1696


Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire -Lausanne