Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Didot
Name of a family of French printers and publishers.
Son of Denis Didot, a merchant, was born in Paris, 1689, and died 1757. In 1713 he opened a bookstore on the Quai des Grands-Augustins, the sign of which was "A la Bible d'or". The celebrated Abbé de Bernis served for a time there as a clerk, after leaving the seminary. FranFrancoisccedil;ois Didot was a learned man, and held by his colleagues in so 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" (20 vols., quarto), the first seventeen volumes of which are attributed to the Abbé Prévost.
Born 1730, died 1804, succeeded his father FranFrancoisccedil;ois, and was appointed printer to the clergy in 1788. All the lovers of fine books highly appreciate the editions known as "D'Artois" (Recueil de romans français, 64 vols.) and "du Dauphin", a collection of French classics in 32 vols., edited by order of Louis XVI. He also published a Bible. He invented a new printing-press, improved type-founding, and was the first to print on vellum paper.
Born 1732; died 1795, brother of the preceding, founded the paper factory of Essonne and made improvements in type-founding. The most important of his publications are: "L'Imitation de Jésus-Christ" (folio), "Télémaque" (quarto), "Tableau de L'Empire Ottoman" (folio). One of his daughters married Bernardin de Saint-Pierre.
Born 1765, died 1862, son of Pierre-FranFrancoisccedil;ois, made a name as engraver, founder, and engine-maker. When 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. He engraved the assignats, the paper money used during the French Revolution.
Born 1767; died 1829, second son of Pierre-FranFrancoisccedil;ois, devoted his attention to papermaking in the famous factory of Essonne, and, after ten years of patient experiment, invented a machine to make "endless" paper.
Born 1797; died 1825, son of Saint-Léger, made a good translation of Johnson's "Lives of the Poets", which was printed by Jules Didot.
Born 1760; died 1853, eldest son of FranFrancoisccedil;ois-Ambroise, obtained a gold medal at the exhibition. of 1798, for his edition of Virgil. By order of the Government, his presses were established in the Louvre, where they remained during the Consulate. The celebrated Louvre editions are Virgil, Racine, Horace, 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 also wrote a number of original poems.
Born 1794; died 1871, son of Pierre, 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 and founded the Royal Printing House.
Born 1764; died 1836, second son of FranFrancoisccedil;ois-Ambroise was the inventor of stereotypography, which entirely changed the book trade, and 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.
Eldest son of Firmin, born 1790; d. 1876, followed first a diplomatic career and was for a time attache of the French Embassy at Constantinople. 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 Boissonade, Dindorf, and Hase (9 vols., 1855-59).
PITON, Famille Firmin-Didot (Paris, 1856); WERDET, Etude biographique sur la famille des Didot (Paris, 1864); BRUNET, Firmin Didot et sa famille (Paris, 1870).
LOUIS N. DELAMARRE