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Bauer Bodoni®

By Linotype

Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) was called the King of Printers; he was a prolific type designer, a masterful engraver of punches and the most widely admired printer of his time. His books and typefaces were created during the 45 years he was the director of the fine press and publishing house of the Duke of Parma in Italy. He produced the best of what are known as "modern" style types, basing them on the finest writing of his time. Modern types represented the ultimate typographic development of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They have characteristics quite different from the types that preceded them; such as extreme vertical stress, fine hairlines contrasted by bold main strokes, and very subtle, almost non-existent bracketing of sharply defined hairline serifs. Bodoni saw this style as beautiful and harmonious-the natural result of writing done with a well-cut pen, and the look was fashionable and admired. Other punchcutters, such as the Didot family (1689-1853) in France, and J. E. Walbaum (1768-1839) in Germany made their own versions of the modern faces. Even though some nineteenth century critics turned up their noses and called such types shattering and chilly, today the Bodoni moderns are seen in much the same light as they were in his own time. When used with care, the Bodoni types are both romantic and elegant, with a presence that adds tasteful sparkle to headlines and advertising. The Bauer Bodoni was done by Heinrich Jost for Bauer Typefoundry in 1927. This version has finer details of the original Bodoni types. It works well for headlines, logos, advertising.

Giambattista Bodoni, along with his rival the French typographer Didot, defined the transition of the serif from the transitional serif to the modern. In fact, the name for this classification of serif, Didone, is derived from both Bodoni and Didot’s names. Bodoni’s most famous creation was, of course, his namesake typeface.

Bodoni’s typeface was very different than the transitionals that had dominated in the decades before. Transitionals had maintained some of the balanced modulation between main strokes and hairlines exemplified by old style serifs. With Bodoni all bets were off– its serifs had no brackets and were distinguished by a completely flat stroke, marking a sharp difference between thick and thin strokes.

A series of revivals of Bodoni began in the 20th century, launched by the success of the American Type Foundry’s ATF Bodoni. Many of the competing revivals were based on ATF’s model; however, the Bauer foundry took an alternate approach. ATF Bodoni and many of its derivatives had modified the original Bodoni to increase legibility, toning down its high contrast. Jost, on the other hand, decided to pursue a Bodoni revival that was more loyal to the original.

The resulting Bauer Bodoni is a graceful, albeit bright, typeface. It is characterized by sharp, thin serifs and is mostly used for display purposes given its high contrast and pronounced vertical stress.

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Bauer Bodoni is excellent for display and headline use. It has been described as a “high-strung thoroughbred” as opposed to a workhorse. It works best when used particularly, in narrow applications that accentuate its stylized aspects. It is currently used in the logotype of the University of Carnegie Mellon. The pop star Lady Gaga also employs it in her logo.