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Cooper Black

Cooper Black

In the advertising heartland of Chicago in 1899, 20-year-old Oswald B. Cooper, the son of a graphic artist, was accepted at the Frank Holme School of Illustration. Among the classes he attended there were the writing courses of Frederic Goudy. Five years on, Cooper and his friend Fred Bertsch founded the advertising agency Bertsch & Cooper.


Art director Tommy Steele helped Cooper Black back to fame in 1966 with the groundbreaking album “Pet Sounds” (Photo: Columbia; iTunes)

Here, in 1921, “Oz” designed a bold typeface with rounded serifs for a poster, and subsequently released the font in 1922 to Barnhart Brothers & Spindler. Cooper Black was consistent with the spirit of advertising at that time: simple, friendly and robust. It became so successful that Monotype commissioned a copy – ironically from Cooper’s teacher Goudy – that was released in 1925 as Goudy Heavyface.

In early 1930, Cooper attempted to protect his successful font by means of a patent. The case went through three levels of jurisdiction before a judge ruled in 1931 that some of the Cooper Black characters had been taken from a brand logo known prior to 1920. And thus the first attempt to protect the form of a typeface failed.


The best-known Cooper Black user in Europe is the airline easyJet (Photo: easyJet)
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