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Didot

 
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     Well known for their excellent and inexpensive books, the Didot family marked the world of typing with innovations that helped to expand typography further.
     Most noted is the Didot system of measurement, conceived by Francoise Ambroise Didot. Revising the measurement scale of Fournier, Francoise Ambroise, made a measurement scale that was soon adopted by almost all of Europe, as well as America. Franciso had two famous sons, who worked closely together.
     Pierre (1761-1853) became the printer, while Firmin (1764-1836) took over the foundry where he designed and cut the famous types used by his brother in the printing of the extraordinary Editions du Louver and other publications. Firmin was also involved in the development of stereotyping (a technique that made press possible) with which he was able to produce small book inexpensively. Further on, Napoleon appointed him director of the foundry of the Imprimerie Imperiale (formerly Royale, later Nationale.) In general Pierre's reputation rests mainly, but not entirely, on four magnificent publications: La Fontaine, 1795; Virgil, 1798; Horace, 1799; and Racine, 1801.
     Didot's typefaces are very similar to Bodoni's ones, thought they were more mechanical and precise. In fact, they both share common influences and the same cultural milieu. Similarly they both tried to push the modern style. In doing so, each pushed the aesthetics of contrast, mathematical construction, and neoclassical refinement to the ultimate possible level.
Bodoni is credited with greater skill as a designer and printer, while Didots possessed greater scholarship. In addition, Bodoni sought only the magnificent and did not work for common readers. On the other hand, the Didots used their new stereotypes to produce much larger, more economical editions for a broader range of readers.
 
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Pierre Didot L'aine, Paris, 1795
Jean de La Fontaine: contes et Nouvelles en Vers
9 x 12
Pierre Didot L'aine, Paris, 1798
Virgil Bucolica, Georgica, et Aeneis
13 x 18
Pierre Didot L'aine, Paris, 1801
Jean Racine, Oeuvres
14 x 19
Pierre Didot L'aine, Paris, 1801
Jean Racine, Oeuvres
14 x 19
 
       
© 2004 Natalia Rifai