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GIAMBATTISTA BODONI (174o-1813)

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Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 112 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GIAMBATTISTA BODONI (174o-1813), Italian printer, was born in 1740 at Saluzzo in Piedmont, where his father. owned a printing establishment. While yet a boy he began to engrave on wood. He at length went to Rome, and there became a compositor for the press of the Propaganda. He made himself acquainted with the Oriental languages, and thus was enabled to render essential service to the Propaganda press, by restoring and accurately distributing the types of several Oriental alpha-bets which had fallen into disorder. The infante Don Ferdinand, afterwards duke of Parma, having established, about 176o, a printing-house on the model of those in Paris, Madrid and Turin, Bodoni was placed at the head of this establishment, which he soon rendered the first of the kind in Europe. The beauty of his typography, &c., leaves nothing further to be desired; but the intrinsic value of his editions is seldom equal to their outward splendour. His Homer, however, is a truly magnificent work; and, indeed, his Greek letters are faultless imitations of the best Greek manuscript. His editions of the Greek, Latin, Italian and French classics are all highly prized for their typographical elegance, and some of them are not less remarkable for their accuracy. Bodoni died at Padua in 1813. ,In 1818 a magnificent work appeared in two volumes quarto, entitled Manuale Tipografico, containing specimens of the vast collection of types which had belonged to him. See De Lama, Vita del Cavaliere Giambattista Bodoni (1816). BODY-SNATCHING, the secret disinterring of dead bodies in churchyards in order to sell them for the purpose of dissection. Those who practised body-snatching were frequently called resurrectionists or resurrection-men. Previous to the passing of the Anatomy Act 1832 (see ANATOMY: History), no licence was required in Great Britain for opening an anatomical school, and there was no provision for supplying subjects to students for anatomical purposes. Therefore, though body-snatching was a misdemeanour at common law, punishable with fine and imprisonment, it was a sufficiently lucrative business to run the risk of detection. Body-snatching became so prevalent that it was not unusual for the relatives and friends of a deceased person to watch the grave for some time after burial, lest it should be violated. Iron coffins, too, were frequently used for burial, or the graves were protected by a framework of iron bars called mortsafes, well-preserved examples of which may still be seen in Greyfriars' churchyard, Edinburgh. For a detailed history of body-snatching, see The Diary of a Resurrectionist, edited by J. B. Bailey (London, 1896), which also contains a full bibliography and the regulations in force in foreign countries for the supply of bodies for anatomical purposes.
End of Article: GIAMBATTISTA BODONI (174o-1813)
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