Didot is the name of a family of French printers, punch-cutters and publishers. Through its achievements and advancements in printing, publishing and typography, the family has lent its name to typographic measurements
Typographic unit
Typographic units are the units of measurement used in typography or typesetting. The traditional units are different from common metric units, as they were established earlier. Even though these units are all very small, across a line of print they add up quickly...

 developed by François-Ambroise Didot and the Didot typeface
Didot (typeface)
Didot is a name given to a group of typefaces named after the famous French printing and type producing family. The classification is known as modern, or Didone. The typeface we know today was based on a collection of related types developed in the period 1784–1811. Firmin Didot cut the letters,...

 developed by Firmin Didot.

François Didot

François Didot (son of Denis Didot) was a merchant who was born in Paris in 1689 and died in 1757. In 1713 he opened a bookstore called "À la Bible d'or" (which could be translated "The Golden Bible") on the Quai des Grands-Augustins. The celebrated Abbé de Bernis served for a time there as a clerk after leaving the seminary. François Didot was a learned man, and held by his colleagues in such great esteem that he was elected to the dignity of Syndic of the Booksellers' Corporation in 1735. He received his printer's charter from the king in 1754. Among the books he published should be mentioned the "Histoire des voyages" ("Story of Voyages/Travels") (20 vols., quarto), the first seventeen volumes of which are attributed to the Abbé Prévost
Antoine François Prévost
Antoine François Prévost , usually known simply as the Abbé Prévost, was a French author and novelist.- Life and works :...


François-Ambroise Didot

François-Ambroise Didot (son of François Didot) was born in 1730 and died in 1804. François-Ambroise Didot inherited the work of his father François. He was appointed printer to the clergy in 1788. Many bibliophiles value the editions known as "D'Artois" (Recueil de romans français, 64 volumes) and "du Dauphin", a collection of French classics in 32 volumes, edited by order of Louis XVI. He also published a Bible. François-Ambroise Didot invented a new printing-press, improved type-founding, and was the first to print on vellum paper.

About 1780 François-Ambroise Didot adapted the point
Point (typography)
In typography, a point is the smallest unit of measure, being a subdivision of the larger pica. It is commonly abbreviated as pt. The point has long been the usual unit for measuring font size and leading and other minute items on a printed page....

 system for sizing typefaces by width, using units of 1/72 of the pre-metric
Si, si, or SI may refer to :- Measurement, mathematics and science :* International System of Units , the modern international standard version of the metric system...

 French inch. His "point", later named the didot after him, became the prevailing unit of type measurement throughout continental Europe and its former colonies, including Latin America. In 1973 it was metrically standardized at 0.375 mm for the European Union. (Meanwhile the English-speaking world adopted a "point" based on 1/72 of the smaller English inch.)

Pierre-François Didot

Pierre-François Didot (son of François Didot) was born in 1732 and died in 1795. Pierre-François Didot founded a paper factory in Essonne and made improvements in type-founding. The most important of his publications are "L'Imitation de Jésus-Christ" (folio), "Télémaque" (quarto) and "Tableau de L'Empire Ottoman" (folio). One of his daughters married Bernardin de Saint-Pierre.

Pierre Didot

Pierre Didot (son of François-Ambroise Didot) was born in 1760 and died in 1853. Pierre Didot was awarded a gold medal at the exhibition of 1798, for his edition of Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

. By order of the Government, his presses were established in the Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

, where they remained during the Consulate. The celebrated Louvre editions are Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, Racine
Jean Racine
Jean Racine , baptismal name Jean-Baptiste Racine , was a French dramatist, one of the "Big Three" of 17th-century France , and one of the most important literary figures in the Western tradition...

, Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

, and La Fontaine. The board of examiners of the 1806 exhibition pronounced the Racine edition "the most perfect typographical production of all ages". Pierre Didot was also a poet and translated in verse the fourth book of Georgies, the first books of Horace's Odes, and wrote a number of original poems.

Firmin Didot

Firmin Didot (son of François-Ambroise Didot) was born in 1764 and died in 1836. Firmin Didot was the inventor of stereotypography which entirely changed the book trade. Firmin Didot was the first to engrave slips of so-called "English" and round hand-writing. Among the works which issued from his press were "Les Ruines de Pompéi", "Le Panthéon égyptien" of Champollion-Figeac, and "Historial du Jongleur", printed in Gothic type, with tail-pieces and vignettes, like the editions of the fifteenth century. In 1827, Firmin Didot gave up business to devote himself to politics and literature. He was a member of the Chamber of Deputies and wrote tragedies ("La Reine de Portugal", "La Mort d'Annibal") and essays on literary topics.

Along with Giambattista Bodoni
Giambattista Bodoni
Giambattista Bodoni was an Italian engraver, publisher, printer and typographer of high repute remembered for designing a family of different typefaces called Bodoni....

 of Italy, Firmin Didot is credited with designing and establishing the use of the "Modern" classification of typefaces. The types that Didot used are characterized by extreme contrast in thick strokes and thin strokes, by the use of hairline serifs and by the vertical stress of the letters. Many fonts today are available based on Firmin Didot's typefaces. These include Linotype Didot http://www.linotype.com/1012/linotypedidot-family.html?PHPSESSID=83d4b00460bdf44174dda7fae4523166# and HTF Didot http://www.typography.com/catalog/didot/.

Henri Didot

Henri Didot (son of Pierre-François Didot) was born in 1765 and died in 1862. Henri Didot made a name for himself as an engraver, founder, and engine-maker. When he was sixty-six years old, he engraved the microscopic type which was used for the editions of the "Maximes" of La Rochefoucauld and Horace's works. This type was so small that, to cast it, he had to invent a new mould which he called polyamatype (1819), because it founded one hundred letters at a time. Henri Didot engraved the assignats, the paper money used during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...


Saint-Léger Didot

Saint-Léger Didot (son of Pierre-François Didot) was born in 1767 and died in 1829. Saint-Léger Didot devoted his attention to papermaking in the famous factory of Essonne, where one of his workers, Louis-Nicolas Robert
Louis-Nicolas Robert
Louis-Nicolas Robert was a French soldier and mechanical engineer, who is credited with a paper-making invention that became the blueprint of the Fourdrinier machine....

 invented a machine to make "endless" paper, and eventually 'sold' the patent to Didot.

Jules Didot

Jules Didot (son of Pierre Didot) was born in 1794 and died in 1871. Jules Didot is famous for his invention of round-edged initials, to take the place of the sharp-edged ones. In 1825 he took his printing plant to Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 and founded the Royal Printing House.

Ambroise-Firmin Didot

Ambroise-Firmin Didot (son of Firmin Didot) was born 1790 and died in 1876. Ambroise-Firmin Didot first followed a diplomatic career and was for a time attache of the French Embassy at Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. He took advantage of his position to visit the East and Greece, being the first to discover the location of Pergamacum. When his father retired in 1827, he, together with his brother Hyacinthe, took the management of the publishing business. They published "Bibliothèque des auteurs Grecs", "Bibliothèque des auteurs Latins", and "Bibliothèque des auteurs français", an immense collection of two hundred and fifty volumes. Their greatest work was a new edition of the "Thesaurus Graecae Linguae", of Henry Stephens, edited by Jean François Boissonade de Fontarabie
Jean François Boissonade de Fontarabie
Jean François Boissonade de Fontarabie was a French classical scholar.He was born at Paris. In 1792 he entered the public service during the administration of General Dumouriez. Driven out in 1795, he was restored by Lucien Bonaparte, during whose time of office he served as secretary to the...

, Dindorf, and Hase
The Hase is a 193 km long river in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is a right tributary of the Ems, but part of its flow goes to the Else, that is part of the Weser basin. Its source is in the Teutoburg Forest, south-east of Osnabrück, on the north slope of the 307 m high Hankenüll hill.- Weser-Ems...

(9 vols., 1855–59).

Edouard Didot

Edouard Didot (son of Saint-Léger Didot) was born in 1797 and died in 1825. Edouard Didot made a translation of Johnson's "Lives of the Poets", which was printed by Jules Didot.

External links

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