Wood Type


Bodoni-sample-2-300x173by Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

Bodoni refers to a series of type faces originally designed in 1798 by Giambattista Bodoni (1743 – 1813). After working at a Catholic press in Rome, Bodoni was invited at the age of 28 to set up and run the official press of the Duke of Parma. He spent the rest of his long career there. His goal in type design was to achieve to a more modern style for that era. Bodoni modified his design over his career and resulted in a style that featured 1) contrast via the use of narrow and wide strokes, 2) thin serifs matching the narrow strokes in thinness, and 3) little or no brackets where the serifs join the vertical strokes. The result is a design that survived over 200 years and has influenced other type designers over these years.

In the early 1900s ATF (American Type Foundry) issued several variations of Bodoni typefaces. These became popular and other variations followed in time. By the 1930s Bodoni was being cut in wood-type by Hamilton and other minor producers. Our sample “NEWS HOUR” is a 10 line Bodoni Bold sign type manufactured and sold with department store sign machines. Note the variation in the “W” between the Bold sample and the standard Bodoni shown below.

The Bodoni typeface continues to be widely used today. Some examples shown below include the title of the “News Hour” with Jim Lehrer, the CK logo for Calvin Klein, and “NIRVANA” as it appears on the album covers of the rock band of the same name. Other uses include movie titles for Mama Mia and the Black Dahlia, as well as companies including Giorgio Armani, Elizabeth Arden, Hilton Hotels and IBM.

Calvin-Klein-150x150 Jim-Lehrer-NewsHour nirvana-247x300