The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Bodoni, Giambattista

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BODONI, bō-dō'nē, Giambattista, Italian printer and type-cutter: b. Saluzzo, Piedmont, 1740; d. Padua, 29 Nov. 1813. His father owned a printing establishment at Saluzzo, and he began, while yet a boy, to employ himself in engraving on wood. In 1758 he went to Rome and was made compositor on the press of the Propaganda. He there made himself master of Oriental languages and restored in place the types of several alphabets which had fallen into disorder. About 1766 Bodoni was placed at the head of the Duke of Parma's private press, which he made the first of the kind in Europe, and gained the reputation of having far surpassed all the splendid and beautiful productions of his predecessors in the art; but the intrinsic value of his editions is seldom equal to their outward splendor. His Homer is a magnificent work; indeed, his Greek letters are the most perfect imitations of Greek manuscript that have been attempted in modern times. He printed the Lord's Prayer in 155 languages. His splendid editions of Greek, Latin, Italian and French classics are highly prized.