|Category||Serif; display type|
|Designer(s)||Oswald Bruce Cooper|
|Foundry||Barnhart Brothers & Spindler|
|Re-issuing foundries||American Type Founders, Wordshape|
Cooper Black is an ultra-bold serif typeface intended for display use that was designed by Oswald Bruce Cooper and released by the Barnhart Brothers & Spindler type foundry in 1922. The typeface was drawn as an extra-bold weight of Cooper's "Cooper Old Style" family. It rapidly became a standard typeface and was licensed by American Type Founders and also copied by many other manufacturers of printing systems.
Cooper Black followed on from Cooper's career as a lettering artist in Chicago and the Midwest of America in the 1920s. Cooper Black was advertised as being "for far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers", as well as "the Black Menace" by detractors. While very bold, Cooper Black is based on traditional "old-style" serif lettering, rather than the hard-edged "fat face" fonts popular in the nineteenth century, giving it a soft, 'muddy' appearance, with relatively low contrast between thick and thin strokes.
Imitations and variants
Cooper Black was immediately popular and spawned imitations, including Goudy Heavy Face from Frederic Goudy, Ludlow Black and Pabst Extra Bold. Cooper Black remains popular: the editors of the typography discussion website Fonts in Use report more submissions of its use than any other face that is not a sans-serif, although outnumbered by Times New Roman once its many variants are added up.
Many unusual versions of Cooper were created in the phototypesetting period of the 1960s and 1970s, a period of explosion in production of display faces. These included "Ziptop Cooper Black" from Photo Lettering Inc., a version with the top bolder than the bottom, and other distorted variants.
Many digitisations of Cooper Black exist from companies including Bitstream, Adobe and others. Soap, designed by Ray Larabie of Typodermic, is a uni-case variant. A version from URW, which does not include an italic, is bundled with many Microsoft products. Cooper Old Style has been digitised by URW.
Goudy Heavy, a metal-type competitor commissioned by Monotype from Cooper's former lettering teacher, Frederic Goudy.
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