On this page you can download 15 decorative flourishes that we have drawn on the basis of illustrations found in the old books. In the pictures below you can see all the flourishes that are found in this collection.


During the Renaissance, most manuscripts used to be heavily decorated with flourishes. Often whole page were flourished until they became true artwork. Numerous scrapbooks of penmen and calligraphers of that time were filled with artistic embellishments composed of endless combinations of flourishes. Flourishes represent curved lines, spirals and loops used to decorate texts. They evolved in the time before the invention of the printing press, when documents were written by hand. After this invention, people expected printed books to look like “real things”, so flourishes continued to be used as text embellishments, mainly in the form of stand-alone decorative elements in early printed books (certain flourishes that we have vectorized and published on this page were taken over from some printed pages from the 17th century).


Collection of decorative flourishes
Pattern category
Free vector categories
Available file formats

2D CAD (Autodesk (dwg)) and vector (Encapsulated PostScript (eps) and Scalable Vector Graphics (svg))

As time passed, flourishing of printed books became less and less frequent, so this practice was eventually abandoned. Flourishing of hand-written documents declined during the period of rapid trade expansion, which required quick and easily readable recording of a large number of transactions. On the other hand, after the Industrial Revolution, the need for an increased number of qualified workers arose, so people had to learn to read and write in order to be able to learn the newly required skills. Thus a lot of newly qualified writing teachers appeared, who were very creative in drawing attention to their services.  In the USA, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, writing teachers used to advertise their services with flourished invitation cards. Flourished designs became so popular, that even classes were organized to teach people how to flourish.

Of course, the popularity of flourishes also had its not-so-bright side. Collectors often asked penmen for free specimens of flourished cards on the pretext of possible large orders. Many of these flourishes later appeared in local printers` stock blocks. In the same manner, they often reprinted flourishes from other printers’ type specimen books. As a result, today we can find the same flourishes in type specimen books of various printers of that time, and none of them give credit to who created them, so many of the flourishes are difficult to trace to their original authors.


Download DWG 2D CAD file format
Download EPS vector file format
Download SVG vector file format

Submitted by Ceh Jan


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