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DIDOT

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 207 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DIDOT, the name of a family of learned French printers and publishers. FRANcoIS DIDOT (1689-1757), founder of the family, was born at Paris. He began business as a bookseller and printer in 1713, and among his undertakings was a collection of the travels of his friend the Abbe Prevost, in twenty volumes (1747). It was remarkable for its typographical perfection, and was adorned with many engravings and maps. FRANCOIS AMBROISE DIDOT (173o-18o4), son of Francois, made important improvements in type-founding, and was the first to attempt printing on vellum paper. Among the works which he published was the famous collection of French classics prepared by order of Louis XVI. for the education of the Dauphin, and the folio edition of L'Art de verifier les dates. PIERRE FRANcOIS DIDOT (1732-1795), his brother, devoted much attention to the art of type-founding and to paper-making. Among the works which issued from his press was an edition in folio of the Imitatio Christi (1788). HENRI DIDOT (1765-1852), son of Pierre Francois, is celebrated for his " microscopic " editions of various standard works, for which he engraved the type when nearly seventy years of age. He was also the engraver of the assignats issued by the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies and the Convention. DIDOT SAINT-LEGER, second son of Pierre Francois, was the inventor of the paper-making machine kncwn in England as the Didot machine. PIERRE DIDOT (176o-1853), eldest son of Francois Ambroise, is celebrated as the publisher of the beautiful " Louvre " editions of Virgil, Horace and Racine. The Racine, in three volumes folio, was pronounced in 18o1 to be " the most perfect typographical production of all ages." FIRMIN DmoT (1764-1836), his brother, second son off Francois Ambroise, sustained the reputation of the family both as printer and type-founder. He revived (if he did not invent—a distinction which in order of time belongs to William Ged) the process of stereotyping, and coined its name, and he first used the process in his edition of Callet's Tables of Logarithms (1795), in which he secured an accuracy till then unattainable. He published stereotyped editions of French, English and Italian classics at a very low price. He was the author of two tragedies—La Reine de Portugal and La Mort d'Annibal; and he wrote metrical translations from Virgil, Tyrtaeus and Theocritus. AMBROISE FIRMIN DIDOT (1790-1876) was his eldest son. After receiving a classical education, he spent three years in Greece and in the East; and on the retirement of his father in 1827 he undertook, in conjunction with his brother Hyacinthe, the direction of the publishing business. Their greatest undertaking was a new edition of the Thesaurus Graecae linguae of Henri Estienne, under the editorial care of the brothers Dindorf and M. Rase (9 vols., 1855-1859). Among the numerous important works published by the brothers, the 200 volumes forming the Bibliotheque des auteurs grecs, Bibliotheque latine, and Bibliotheque . francaise deserve special mention. Ambroise Firmin Didot was the first to propose (1823) a subscription in favour of the Greeks, then in insurrection207 against Turkish tyranny. Besides a translation of Thucydides (1833), he wrote the articles Estienne " in the Nouvelle Biographie generale, and " Typographie " in the Ency. mod., as well as Observations sur l'orthographie fran(aise (1867), &c. In 1875 he published a very learned and elaborate monograph on Aldus Manutius. His collection of MSS., the richest in France, was said to have been worth, at the time of his death, not less than 2,000,000 francs.
End of Article: DIDOT
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