In February 1768 he was called by the Duke Ferdinando di Borbone to Parma, to establish and direct the governmental Stamperia Reale, of which he remained in charge for the rest of his life. Bodoni is responsible for the construction of the presses and other tools: in a few months the Stamperia (and his private apartment), located in the Palazzo della Pilotta, was ready for the official launch.
The collaboration with the architect Petitot and the engraver Benigno Bossi began immediately for the printing of celebrative editions of the splendor of the Duchy such as the Ara Amicitiae in memory of the visit of Emperor Joseph II and the Description of the festivities .. for the Duke’s wedding Ferdinand with Maria Amalia of Austria (photo), the most splendid Italian book of celebrations adorned with 70 between tables out of text, initial letters, heads and finals; both works are from 1769.
The publications of the first years of activity are made using fonts from France, but already starting from 1771 Bodoni begins the design and production of his own typefaces (of this same year is the first typographical essay, Fregi and Majuscole engraved and merged by Giambattista Bodoni Director of the Royal Printing House), assisted by collaborators, including his brother Giuseppe, called in Parma to oversee the foundry.
An extremely fruitful collaboration was made between Bodoni and the orientalist Gian Bernardo De Rossi for various polyglot publications, culminating in the Epithalamia exoticis linguis reddita (photo) (1775), a great encomiastic folio for the wedding of the Prince of Piedmont. This folio exhibits texts in twenty-six eastern languages. It is adorned with one hundred and thirty-nine allegorical and ornamental branches and constitutes one of the first samples of ‘exotic’ glyphs. Bodoni’s passion for drawing and engraving non-european glyphs will continue throughout his life. It is specially visible in the Pater Noster (Oratio Dominica) (photo) of 1806, printed in 155 different languages.
Numerous editions followed, bringing the Parma presses to the attention of writers, bibliophiles and travelers of the Grand Tour who stop in the city to admire Correggio’s paintings and to visit the bodonian typography. On the occasion of the visits of sovereigns, Bodoni printed in their honor typographic tributes such as the Essai de caractère Russes (photo) of 1782 for the zarevic Paul, son of Catherine the Great, and Upomnema Parmense in adventu Gustavi III for the king of Sweden ( 1784). Other works that brought Bodoni fame in these first decades were The pastoral loves of Dafni and Cloe by Longo Sofista translated by Annibal Caro (1786), the Aminta of Tasso (1789), several Greek classics, the Aristodemus (1786) and the Verses ( 1787) del Monti, the Poesie campestri of Pindemonte.
The study of the form of the alphabetic letters became the exclusive subject matter of the “manuals”. These were the samples of glyphs that Bodoni was gradually setting up and perfecting since 1771. The first Typographical Manual with one hundred Latin round fonts, fifty italics and twenty-eight Greek and the Serie di majuscole e caratteri cancellereschi, highpoints, at the limit of abstraction, of his font types. The severe, neoclassical imprint of the letters, characterized by the clear contrast between the thickness of the temples and the subtlety of the fillets and graces; the bare, epigraphic composition of title pages and dedications; the airy relationship between text and images, between line and line, between light and dark make the Bodonian page a prodigy of harmony and legibility.