[BODONI]. Serie di maiuscole e caratteri cancellereschi

Parma, G.B.Bodoni., 1788

Folio (452 x 302 mm.), [110] printed on recto only. Because the book was printed on single leaves, the number of pages varies from copy to copy: Brooks describes a copy with 113 leaves, De Lama with 109, the copy at the Library of Congress has 108 leaves, the copies at the Newberry Library and Boston Public Library have 110 leaves. A very fine copy in contemporary boards.

Extremely rare edition of typographic specimen published the same year of the first edition of Manuale tipografico. ‘In the same year, 1788, Bodoni issued the finest and most imposing of his specimens - a folio collection of roman, italic, Russian, Greek and Cancelliereschi types. The book opens, unfortunately, with the last named, in fifteen sizes of a detestable form of script capital; but the twenty-eight alphabets of roman and twenty-seven of italic capitals which follow are perhaps the most magnificent of their kind ever displayed. The roman capital letters in larger size (from 1 to 5) are specially fine-brilliant in cut and splendidly printed in ink of a wonderfully rich black. Then, too, unlike Bodoni’s later books, the paper has a pleasant surface from which all life has not been smoothed out. Nine alphabets of Greek capital letters follow, both in upright and cursive forms - though how legitimate Greek “italic capitals” are is a question. The sizes from 1 to 4, or 5 are superb, especially number 1, in both italic and roman. Next come Russian capital letters in twelve sizes of roman and italic, and here again the cutting is brilliant and the impression effective to the last degree. From that point on, the types are upper- and lower-case, beginning with roman and italic papale, imperiale, reale, ducale, in three weights of letter down to tresmegiste, below which roman and italic are shown in ten sizes of each; followed by similar Russian fonts of great magnificence. Fonts of Greek follow in descending sizes, and a few specimens of roman and italic which are much more old style than Bodoni’s later equivalent fonts. The splendor of this book depends upon pure typography. There is not an ornament in it - not even the little tablets by which Bodoni sometimes gave a dash of salt to his books, but with which less skillful printers have peppered their reproductions! From a passing allusion in Bodoni’s preface to his Manuale of 1818, it appears that only a few copies of this specimen were printed. (Updike) ‘Libro della più grande bellezza tipografica, che ricevette l’ammirazione di Benjamin Franklin: I have had the very great pleasure of receiving and perusing your excellent Essai des Charactères de l’Imprimerie. It is one of the most beautiful that Art has hitherto produced.’(Brooks)

Brooks 357.

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