Cooper Black

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Category Serif; display type
Designer(s) Oswald Bruce Cooper
Foundry Barnhart Brothers & Spindler
Date released 1922
Re-issuing foundries American Type Founders, Wordshape

Cooper Black is a heavily weighted, display serif typeface designed by Oswald Bruce Cooper in 1921 and released by the Barnhart Brothers & Spindler type foundry in 1922. The typeface is drawn as an extra bold weight of Cooper Old Style.[1] Though not based on a single historic model, Cooper Black exhibits influences of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and the Machine Age. Cooper Black was a predominant lettering style popularized by Oswald Bruce Cooper in Chicago and the Midwest of America in the 1920s, given typographic form. An earlier weight of Cooper's type designs, Cooper Old Style (later just "Cooper") was released first, though Cooper Black was what BB&S foundry was after. Cooper Black was advertised as being "for far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers", as well as "the Black Menace" by detractors.

Cooper Hilite[edit]

Cooper Hilite is a version of Cooper Black originally designed by painting white relief impressions into a printed proof of Cooper Black. A messy version was released by the Russian type foundry Paratype in 1993. A detailed version that is a direct digital rendering of 'Oz' Cooper's original was released by the Wordshape type foundry in 2010. The Wordshape version is accompanied by a copy of Cooper Black that can be used to fill the incised spaces of Cooper Hilite with color via layering.

Cooper Black Italic[edit]

Cooper Black Italic is an italic variant, with swash characters as alternate characters.

A digitized version with swashes was first released by Wordshape as Cooper Black Italic Swash, designed by Ian Lynam Design. Wordshape's version includes alternate swash designs. Wordshape also released a non-swash version in 2010 that rivals previous versions by Adobe, Berthold, and others, though it is based on Cooper's original drawings in lieu of digitized versions of printed versions of Cooper Black Italic, as were previous versions.

Cooper Black Condensed[edit]

Cooper Black Condensed is a condensed variant, described by Cooper as 'condensed but not squeezed'. The condensed font is 20% lighter than the regular Cooper Black. Versions are available through many type companies such as Adobe and Wordshape.


Goudy Heavyface, Ludlow Black and Pabst Extra Bold were designed in response to Cooper Black.[1]

Soap, designed by Ray Larabie of Typodermic, is a uni-case variant based on Cooper Black.[2]

Bitstream Cooper, designed at Bitstream in 1986, added interpolated light, medium, and bold styles, with the corresponding italics, to the existing black and old style weights. They vary from the originals in that they suppose intermediate weights would not have the same depth of character as the original weights of the typefaces. [3]

Notable uses[edit]

Cooper Black in use for the title card of Dad's Army.
The easyJet logo.
A Tootsie Roll.

In television[edit]

In music[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Neil Macmillan (2006). An A-Z of Type Designers. Yale University Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-300-11151-7. 
  • Allan Haley. Typographic Milestones. John Wiley and Sons: September 1992. ISBN 978-0-471-28894-7.
  • Blackwell, Lewis. 20th Century Type. Yale University Press: 2004. ISBN 0-300-10073-6.
  • Fiedl, Frederich, Nicholas Ott and Bernard Stein. Typography: An Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Through History. Black Dog & Leventhal: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.
  • Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983. ISBN 0-7137-1347-X.
  • Macmillan, Neil. An A–Z of Type Designers. Yale University Press: 2006. ISBN 0-300-11151-7.

External links[edit]