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Didot

DIDOT, the name of a family of learned French printers and publishers. François 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 Abbé Prévost, in twenty volumes (1747). It was remarkable for its typographical perfection, and was adorned with many engravings and maps. François Ambroise Didot (1730-1804), son of François, 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 vérifier les dates. Pierre François 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 François, 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-Léger, second son of Pierre François, was the inventor of the paper-making machine known in England as the Didot machine. Pierre Didot (1760-1853), eldest son of François 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 1801 to be "the most perfect typographical production of all ages." Firmin Didot (1764-1836), his brother, second son of François 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. Hase (9 vols., 1855-1859). Among the numerous important works published by the brothers, the 200 volumes forming the Bibliothèque des auteurs grecs, Bibliothèque latine, and Bibliothèque française deserve special mention. Ambroise Firmin Didot was the first to propose (1823) a subscription in favour of the Greeks, then in insurrection against Turkish tyranny. Besides a translation of Thucydides (1833), he wrote the articles "Estienne" in the Nouvelle Biographie générale, and "Typographie" in the Ency. mod., as well as Observations sur l'orthographie française (1867), etc. 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.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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