[BODONI]. Manuale tipografico del Cavaliere Giambattista Bodoni

Parma,  presso la Vedova.,  1818

Folio (320 x 219 mm.), two volumes. Engraved frontispiece portrait by Francesco Rosaspina after Andrea Appiani, text and specimens enclosed within double rule border, specimens printed on rectos only, three folding plates of musical notation and over 250 Roman, Greek and exotic types, borders, mathematical, astronomical, and other signs. Volume I: 325 leaves; Volume II: 279 leaves. Portrait lightly foxed, binding rubbed, overall a very fine copy, entirely untrimmed bound in the original orange boards with printed spine labels.

Second edition of Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico, a masterpiece in the art of typography. ‘The second and final edition of Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico - in two quarto volumes with a Discorso by his widow and Prefazione by Bodoni - appeared in 1818, five years after his death. It was completed under the care of his widow and Luigi Orsi, who was for twenty years foreman to Bodoni. Signora Bodoni, writing to M. Durand l’aîné of Metz, from Parma (14 November 1817), says: “The Manuale Tipografico in two volumes on papier-vèlin - the only kind of paper used for it - is not yet completed, but it will be, without fail, at the beginning of the coming year. I dare to believe that book-lovers will thank me for having published a volume which is so very important to Typography. The reception which it will have will make up for the trouble it has cost me (although, Bodoni has left the blocks or models for it) and the considerable expense which I shall have had to incur before it is finished. Also, in view of the fact that but 290 copies are struck off, I cannot dispose of them at less than 120 francs, without any reduction, M. Rosaspina has engraved au burin the portrait after one which the celebrated Appiani … painted in oils, which is a striking likeness.” The first volume contains, under the title of Serie di Caratteri Latini, Tondi e Corsivi, a series of roman and italic types, which cover 144 pages. These run from parmigianina to papale. Sometimes there are as many as fourteen varieties of the same body in different designs and weights of line. It is almost impossible to conceive why it was necessary to have so many kinds, which, even to a trained eye, appear much alike: though it is perhaps justifiable in the larger sizes - as in the three weights of ducale – where differences can be clearly detected. The number of sizes of type, so nicely graduated that one almost merges in another, is more explicable. This great series enabled Bodoni to place on his pages, not approximately but exactly, the size of type he wished to employ. The following pages (145-169) show Serie di Caratteri Cancelliereschi, etc., in smaller sizes, ugly, gray forms of script. Here and there an interesting one appears - like number 13, or the large sizes 16 and 17. The English scripts are imitations of the “fine Italian hand” then fashionable in England and have little to recommend them. Volume I closes with an enormous array of capital letters, both roman and italic, followed by a few pages of hideous script capitals unworthy of the collection. The second volume contains an assemblage of roman and “italic” Greek capitals, covering sixty-two pages; and exotic types, beginning with Hebrew, run on to the ninety-seventh page. These are followed by German and Russian types many of great splendor. The book closes with series of borders, mathematical, astronomical, and other signs, musical notation, etc. Few ornaments (fregi) are attractive, but most of them, while very perfect, are chilly, sterile, and uninteresting. The borders (contorni) confined in rules – a form of decoration which Bodoni affected for his broadsides – are, however, quite charming. The Arabic figures displayed are distinguished, and deserve mention. The music type is uninteresting, the plainsong notation in particular being too modern in effect. The work is probably the most elaborate specimen that the world has ever seen – an imposing tour de force – and the acme of Bodoni’s late, chilly, dry manner’ (Updike) ‘Ce livre magnifique offre les échantillons de plus de 250 caractères différents … Le tout ensemble donne la plus haute idée de la richesse de l’imprimerie de Bodoni et présente une variété qu’on chercherait peut-être vainement dans tout autreétablissement particulier du même genre.’ (Brunet I, 1027)

Brooks 1216.

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