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)