Bodoni: Faces and Places at the Book Club of California

Valerie Lester will be speaking about Bodoni – the man and the typeface – at the Book Club of California on Monday, February 25th

You likely know of Bodoni as a series of serif typefaces and might not know about the man and process behind the typeface. Monday nights lecture promises to be an enjoyable and insightful examination of Bodoni, his life and his work.

Giambattista Bodoni was the head of Parma Royal Printing Works from 1768, managed to transform it in an international printing centre endowed with excellent quality standards.

Bodoni had a long career and his designs evolved and varied. Bodoni followed the ideas of John Baskerville, as found in the printing type Baskerville: increased stroke contrast and a more vertical, slightly condensed, upper case; but took them to a more extreme conclusion.  (Wikipedia)

Typeface designed by Bodoni

Facsimile of lines from Dante’s “La Vita Nuova” first published with Bodoni types by the Officina Bodoni in 1925. Actual font is the digital Bodoni Monotype published in 1999.

There is a Bodoni Museum located on the top floor of the Pilotta Palace in Parma, Italy. It is dedicated to Giambattista Bodoni’s typographical work. The museum keeps a great deal of type blocks, punches, master copies, original dies, manuscripts and tools for a total amount of 80.000 pieces. The most valuable work, considering the scarcity of its editions and the date of its publication, is the Greek version of the Book of Iliad dating to 1808.

Giambattista Bodoni

Although inspired by other type designers, Bodoni found his own style for his typefaces, which deservedly gained worldwide acceptance among printers.

The Book Club of California is holding a special event on Monday, February 25, 2013, 5-7 pm

Bodoni: Faces and Places

In this slide show, Valerie Lester will talk about the life of Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813). She will show images of the places he inhabited in Italy: Saluzzo, Rome, and Parma. You will meet the people for whom he worked, and will enter into the age in which he lived.

As she goes along, Valerie will discuss the stages of Bodoni’s development as a typographer.

Typeface design by Bodoni

In it’s time, Bodoni was thought to be very modern.

Valerie Lester is the author of Phiz, the Man Who Drew Dickens (Chatto & Windus, 2004) and Fasten Your Seat Belts! History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin (Paladwr, 1995). She has also written articles on a wide range of topics, including one on birdwatching for The Atlantic Monthly called “A Bird’s Eye View of Nepal,” and 20 articles for Airways Magazine. She lives in Massachusetts. Visit her website at 


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