Oswald Bruce Cooper

Indices : Designers : Oswald Bruce Cooper

Oswald Bruce Cooper 1879-1940

Oswald Cooper, known as Oz Cooper or simply Oz, came to Chicago in 1899 intending to become an illustrator. He ended up studying lettering with Frederic W. Goudy at the Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago along with William Addison Dwiggins. He later taught at the school and after it closed due to bankruptcy he continued the school’s correspondence courses which he had help set up. In 1904 he formed Bertsch & Cooper with Fred S. Bertsch providing design and lettering services. In 1914 they added typesetting to their services and were the most complete design agency in the Midwest with 50 employees. His hand lettered advertisements for Packard automobiles were famous.

Cooper was adept at calligraphy and was able to letter 12 and 14 point letters freehand with no rulers or guidelines. He was also a very good copywriter and was offered a standing job by one agency. From 1918 to 1928 Barnhart Brothers & Spindler Foundry began issuing typeface designs by Cooper. These included Cooper Old Style, and his most famous design Cooper Black which he described as a type for “far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers.”

He was also one of the founding members of the Society of Typographic Arts in 1928 and the 27 Chicago Designers in 1936. His archive, which contains nearly all of his working drawings, in housed in 8 boxes in the Newberry Library in Chicago.

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