[BODONI]. Manuale tipografico 1788

Parma, G.B.Bodoni., 1788

Quarto (302 x 224 mm.), 148 pages including frontispiece for the Latin types and 30 pages including frontispiece for the Greek types. Our copy lacks ab origine leaf 17, - leaf 71 was never printed and is missing in every known copy - in the first part and has, in the second part, two different leaves numbered 12 as in one copy described by Brooks. A very pale waterstain in the upper white margin, binding rubbed but a genuine, untrimmed copy bound in contemporary marbled boards.

Exceedingly rare first edition of Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico; according to Brooks only 100 copies, 50 in quarto and 50 in octavo, were printed, plus 4 copies on vellum and 4 copies on papier d’Annonay.’I have never seen’ (Updike). The book was printed on single flying leaves and this explains why different collations are common among the copies. The Manuale Tipografico contains one hundred specimens of roman and fifty of cursive types on one side of the leaf. The book also includes at the end the Serie de’caratteri greci di Giambattista Bodoni, displaying twenty-eight different sizes of Greek character. The Manuale Tipografico was the result of an endless task; Bodoni ‘was working steadily, day after day, night after night, cutting pounches and readying for the publication of the Manuale Tipografico. He was convinced this was where his true glory lay. […] By the end of 1787 Bodoni sent to his patron de Azara, the Spanish ambassador in Rome, proof of the first 50 Latin characters of the Manuale. ‘Azara, was highly impressed by them, even though he had a few suggestions to make in his letter of 2 January 1788. He claimed that Bodoni was making typographic history […] Azara was right: Bodoni was indeed making publication history because the publication of the 1788 Manuale marked the transition from Old Style to Modern. “Here at last was presented a new order of type, which came to be called Modern Roman,” writes Henry Lewis Bullen (H. L. Bullen, Giambattista Bodoni Printer and Typographer. The Inland Printer. September 1921, p.773)” the chief characteristic of which is a new kind of serif, cut flat and placed at the right angles with the letter proper, and of the same thickness as the minor lines of the letters … while the main lines were much heavier than in the old style letters …This pronounced contrast of the lines in the letters gives a vivacity to the Bodoni types that is not found in the monotone effect of the conventional old style Roman designs.’ (V. Lester, Giambattista Bodoni, his life and his world. Boston, 2015, pp.105-106).

Brooks 354

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