From The Book Designer:
Using type ornaments in your book design can add a pleasing pictorial element to your typographic pages.
Depending on the tone you’re trying to establish with your design, there’s likely to be a choice of ornaments that will complement the other choices you’ve made when selecting fonts and the overall design direction for the book.
I’ve written elsewhere about finding fonts with ornaments included in their character sets, and there are many fonts dedicated to symbols, pictograms, or other designs that work as ornaments in books. Probably the best known of these is Zapf Dingbats.
One of the reasons type ornaments make a perfect complement to the rest of the typesetting in your book is because they are vector art, just like all the other characters in the font. This means they can be scaled to any size, and that they will fit perfectly on a page of regular, alphanumeric typesetting.
. . . .
Inevitably, some clients say, “Hey Joel, this design looks great, but are there other ornaments I could choose from?”
That’s why I made up a PDF of some of my favorite ornaments for use in books. I called it “55 Sample Type Ornaments for Use in Books.” I know, not too original, right?
. . . .
Well, there are literally thousands of these kinds or ornaments. So I went back and created another set of ornaments, “55 More Sample Type Ornaments for Use in Books.”
All together, these 110 ornaments in a handy chart format makes it easy for an author to quickly find one that will work in her book.
Wouldn’t you like that?
I thought so, and that’s why I’ve combined both charts into one PDF you can download right now.
You aren’t going to be surprised to learn that I now call it “110 Sample Type Ornaments for Use in Books.”
Link to the rest at The Book Designer
PG occasionally comes across an ornament in an ebook he is reading and enjoys seeing it. He’s not certain why, but, for him, it’s a little like a cherry on top of a sundae, seemingly inconsequential but curiously refreshing. He’s downloaded Joel’s pdf for future reference when he’s formatting Mrs. PG’s books.
As Joel notes in the OP, font designs can be protected by copyright. Off the top of his head, PG can’t remember anyone being sued for using an unlicensed dingbat, but it would be a certain way for an entrepreneurial type designer to link up with an entrepreneurial attorney and generate lots of free publicity.