Bodoni in Motion

Two hundred years ago on this day, Giambattista Bodoni, the great Italian typographer, died. The Updike Collection includes one of the United States’ best collections of books published by Bodoni, as well as ephemera and a few manuscripts, and we’re going to be celebrating with an exhibition this February (so stay tuned for more information and mark your calendars for February 27th for the opening reception).

Having such a fine Bodoni collection means that in some cases we have multiple copies of items he printed. Why would anyone need more than one, you ask? Here’s an example, with two copies of a 1799 broadside side-by-side:

BodoniBroadsides

On the left is a copy with hand-written annotations, in this case possibly by Bodoni himself. On the right is a copy with the emendations called for in the copy on the left. In other words, this is a chance to see a great printer at work. Here are some of the details:

In many cases Bodoni (we’ll just assume that’s who made the correction marks) is indicating letters that need to be replaced, as in the case of the damaged “I” in Austria:

Austria

Or the “D” in “Ducum” with the wandering lead at the bottom of its bowl (say that ten times fast) and changes to letter spacing:

Ducum

Sometimes you’ll have a letter like the “A” not keeping up with the baseline:

templo

Or punctuation that needs to disappear completely (plus a shift closer to the center):

DOM

Here’s the full page view (Click for animation):

BodoniGif

The devil is in the details.

(And if you find yourself wanting more bookish animated gifts, there’s no place better than the University of Iowa Special Collections tumblr.)

One thought on “Bodoni in Motion

  1. Pingback: Merkwaardig (week 9) | www.weyerman.nl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s