Wood Type

Cooper Black

Tootsie-Scan-2-300x67by Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

The wood-type for July is called Cooper Black. As one might suspect, it was designed by a gentleman named Cooper, in particular, Oswald Bruce Cooper who designed it in 1921.  It was released as a metal type by the Barnhart Brothers and Spindler Foundry in 1922 just before being acquired by (ATF) American Type Foundry. It is a heavy thick-stroked typeface with rounded serifs. The absence of sharp corners made it very well suited to wood-type. It was quickly adopted by the Hamilton Company and was used for the cover of their Wood-Type Catalog No.18 (See below). Our sample “Tootsie” is a 12-line cut by Hamilton. Cooper Black initially enjoyed about 20 years of popularity in both the metal and wood applications.

In the 1960s Cooper Black was used on album covers for both the Beatles (below) and the Beach Boys, which launched a second wave of popularity for casual or informal use. It was used for TV program titles including M*A*S*H, The Odd Couple, and Different Strokes, as well as lighthearted publications like Archie comics, Garfield, and National Lampoon. Cooper Black has been used for company logos for Easy Jet, Apple Computer (below), Payless Shoes and others. Despite its perceived quirky appearance by some, it has been ATF’s all-time second best-selling typeface. You can find it today on many storefronts and an old standby: the wrapper on your next Tootsie Roll (see below).

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