[BODONI]. Fregi e Majuscole incise e fuse da Giambattista Bodoni direttore della Stamperia Reale

Parma, nella stamperia stessa., 1771

Octavo (197 x 120 mm.), [2] leaves, XII pages, 48 pages, [1] leaf, pages 49-56. On title-page a contemporary manuscript note: St. Pauli, ex dono clarissimi auctoris. A very fine copy bound in modern Burgundy morocco.

The first type specimen printed by Giambattista Bodoni, rare. ‘In Fregi e Majuscole we are able to see what types and ornaments Bodoni used in the earlier part of his career. They are (as he says in his very “worth-while” preface) a derivation from Fournier, but lack that precision which Bodoni embodied so characteristically in his 19th century types. They exhibit, however, his admiration for Fournier, whom he copied in a flattering but barefaced manner. Granted that the most agreeable features of the book are copied, this “specimen” of 1771 is one of the most tasteful and charming volumes of its kind in existence. Each page is surrounded with borders, of which scarcely one is bad, and scarcely two alike. The types are old style, but their delicacy shows current tendencies; and this is specially true of the italic. The Greek character is condensed and very ugly, and but one font is shown as against the twenty-eight varieties exhibited in Bodoni’s Greek specimen of 1788. Bodoni’s ornamented letters are modelled on those of Fournier. The 377 vignettes or ornaments (exactly the number shown in the Manuel) are mostly recut after Fournier’s designs, but Bodoni’s versions have less color and warmth and a certain Italian twist to them -of those shown, all but two (305 and 325) are copies or adaptations. Their arrangements as borders for initials and as head-pieces, etc, is ingenious. Bodoni’s title-page, halftitle to the specimen of types, and some minor decorations -for instance, the type “bees” surrounding type 2 flowers”, to which he has added the familiar motto from Virgil - are neatly “lifted” from Fournier’s Manuel. All the same, the book is enormously instructive to compare with Bodoni’s great, chilly masterpieces, the Oratio Dominica and the Manuale Tipografico of 1818. (Updike).

Brooks 16.

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