Bold, a Modern Visual Force

It was in London in the early 19th century, at a time when England was spearheading the industrial revolution, that bold or fat face type first burst onto the typographic scene. The swift burgeoning of the information and advertising industries led to the proliferation of posters and other printed matter in daily life, known in professional jargon as “jobbing work” : tickets, brochures, programs, lottery tickets, bills, forms, notices, calling cards…. Bold typeface set itself part from regular typeface by increasing the visual mass: its silhouette thickened, its counters (spaces within letters) diminished as a result. The intention was to draw and fuel public attention, to make a strong impression, both literally and figuratively.

By the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, European foundries were importing or adapting boldfaces from across the Channel and increasing their size and proportions. They were not always welcomed by printers like Georges-Adrien Crapelet, who deemed them “ridiculous innovations liable to spoil the art of typography”.

Despite these objections, the street became a theater in which boldface stole the show, passed around from one hand to another through trade and transactions, eventually making its way into book publishing and the press. JOURNAL headlines blazoned forth the news with an unprecedented emphasis and expressivity: boldface, this modern visual force, was henceforth an integral and essential part of typography.

Designed for show and surprise, this force could also be used for everyday reading purposes. In the 1820s, English foundries began marketing small boldface fonts, whose widespread use gradually changed the shape of typesetting in the form of boldface headlines, subheadings, dictionary entries etc. Each word, each phrase, set in a typeface that was fatter than the body of the text became a marker for a parallel level of text within paragraphs that had become more visually complex and abundant, conducive to what was a priori a more superficial reading but often oriented towards a lucid synthesis of the whole. Textbooks, mail-order catalogs, railroad timetables, and advertisements all benefited from boldface, especially in the wake of steady improvements to their aesthetic quality and uniformity.

Today, it is unusual for a family not to have at least several varieties of bold: semi-bold, bold, black etc. On the contrary, it may even comprise other, lighter, even hairline faces. Faces can flaunt their portliness or strip themselves down to the last thread, going from one extreme to the other: it all depends on the desired effect.

Infini bold is definitely the most rough-and-ready echo of Infini roman: the characters gain in robustness and presence whilst preserving the family resemblance. Thus, Infini bold effortlessly performs its task of guiding the reader through a textual landscape, coloring words with a tinge of exuberance, even impulsiveness; and when used for a large body of text, it does not hesitate to blast its horn or unleash a herd of elephants if need be.