Blue Pencil no. 3.4—Bodoni

There is much confusion about what the types of Giambattista Bodoni really looked like. This is because Bodoni’s types changed over the course of his 45 year career. His early faces were influenced by the types of Pierre-Simon Fournier le jeune while his mature ones were influenced by the fonts of Firmin Didot. Bodoni also constantly refined his types to fit the specific needs of the books he was designing and printing. Thus, there is no such thing as a definitive “Bodoni” typeface.

These four examples of Bodoni’s types all come from a copy of Serie di Maiuscole e Caratteri Cancellaresche (Parma: Stamperia Reale, 1788) at Columbia University. The first example is Corale Sottile (5mm x-height), the lightest of the three Corale faces Bodoni cut (the other two are Corale Grasso and Corale Mezzano). The second is Reale (9 mm x-height) which shows some Fournier influence in the lobe of the a.
The third is Imperiale (8 mm x-height) which also has Fournier features. The fourth is Papale, his largest type (with an x-height of 11 mm), which served as the model for ITC Bodoni Seventy-Two.