Cooper Black

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Oswald Bruce Cooper
Barnhart Brothers & Spindler
Release Year
Country of Origin
United States
Serif, Old Style
Original Format
Metal (Foundry)
Veer, Adobe, Linotype,, MyFonts, FontShop


Cooper Black is a heavily weighted, old style 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. Though not based on a single historic model it exhibits influences of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and the Machine Age. Cooper Black is a heavier version of Cooper Old Style which enjoyed particular popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, and also became somewhat iconic of the 1970s.

Popular since it was designed in 1921, Cooper Black has inspired many imitations. However, although many type designers and manufacturers have tried to market similar designs, none has outdone Cooper Black. The blunt and rounded forms, blurred serifs, and very small counters make this a warm and friendly face. Its most distinctive features are the backward tilt of the counters on the ‘O’ and ‘Q’, as well as the elliptical dots in the ‘i’ and ‘j’. More than anything else, its blackness draws attention to Cooper Black. The lack of contrast in the design calls for using this font on a clearly divergent background.

Cooper Black is a very heavy version of Cooper Oldstyle (also known simply as Cooper), an innovative typeface with rounded serifs and long ascenders designed in 1919. The Cooper family was the work of Oswald Bruce Cooper, co-owner of the Bertsch & Cooper design firm in Chicago. Cooper Black was first released by the Barnhart Brothers & Spindler foundry of Chicago in 1922. Oz Cooper was fond of saying that the Black fit the needs of “far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers.” Cooper Black set a trend in ad types which prompted such designers as Fred Goudy (one of Cooper’s early teachers) to follow suit with their own black faces (compare Goudy Heavyface).

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Last edited by giddy hill on November 20, 2009, 03:09pm EST

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