Some gaps (sources) in my research for Didot-portrait

Hi everybody,

first I'm going to briefly introduce myself (silent reader and observer for a longer time, now finally joined):
My name is Cornelia but I prefer to be called Conny, I'm 26 and studying media design at Rheinische Fachhochschule Köln (Cologne), what I really enjoy, it is a great experience with a lot of demandful tasks. Like the one I could need your help:

My topic will need some space.
I am planning on printing a booklet that contains a potrait about the "Didot" font. (I'm afraid my English is a bit rusty, please don't hesitate to correct me in case of failing at technical terms.)

It is a task at my typography discipline (Rheinische Fachhochschule Köln). Every student does another font.
I already did a presentation about "Didot" (Only showed the sources of picture-like files, because the other stuff (what are the characteristics, which differences between Didot and Bodoni are noticeable) I can see and explain by myself. (I got a completed vocational training as media designer and I think I got some experience in dealing with typography)

I really want this booklet to be something special. It should not be filled with web-based sources only or none at all.
My problem is:
I am desperately looking for books or other sources that are based on scientific evidence. Especially on some facts.
I did the presentation with most web-based sources, which is okay, cause it are links to blogs by people that love typography and got some experience, but for something like a printed booklet I think it really should be properly researched.

It should be about at least 28-32 pages with information about "historical" and "digital" Didots. I want to show when it first got revealed, by whom, why, where, how popular it was, its history, where it was used at the very first, a comparison to its biggest rivale, Bodoni, the specimen of Didot, the new digitized fonts (esp. the usefull ones that are built with lots of signs - don't know how to say in english right now, sorry): HTF, Linotype, URW, DPS, and say briefly what the differences are and which ones are the "best built ones" if you know what I mean.

Facts that I got without real sources:

(releasing) Designer: Firmin Didot, released at 1784 (http://ilovetypography.com/2008/05/30/a-brief-history-of-type-part-4/) Problem: Where does that information come from? There is no source at this article about it), inspired by Baskerville (so is Bodoni, => comparison, same source again, is this true?!)

First printed thing with Didot font was "La Henriade" (Voltaire), which was printed by Firmins brother, Pierre in 1819 http://catalogue.drouot.com/ref-drouot/lot-ventes-aux-encheres-drouot.js...
I don't know where I could find a source for the fact, this was the first "thing", for which Didot (by Firmin) was used while printing.

It's character is shaped by the sense of enlightenment (I read this somewhere, but don't have a source). I kind of did my own interpretation based on the therm enlightenment, the mood of french people at that time and the specimen of the Didone.

Why do Didot and Bodoni look SO similar? I mean, okay, both font designers loved Baskerville (based on ilovetypography.com again), but can you really rely on that one fact? And where is the source for this?

http://www.fonts.com/content/learning/fontology/level-1/type-families/di... says "Frutiger also studied the Didot types in a book printed by the Didots in 1818, La Henriade by Voltaire" - again no real source.

I already wrote an e-mail to stehaufsatz.com and got an answer from Schmitz with some sources I already ordered at the library and can borrow next monday, but some french books too, which leads me to the next problem: I don't speak French.

"Specimen des nouveaux caractères de la fonderie et de l'imprimerie de P. Didot, l'ainé", Pierre Didot, 1819
"Sur le prix du papier dans l'antiquité", Émile Egger, 1857
"Spécimens de caractères de Firmin et Jules Didot", André Jammes, 2002

These are those books. Is there a possibility some of those got translated into english?

Then there was another book which is acutally in German:

"Wo der Buchstabe das Wort führt", Kurt Weidemann

I know Weidemann but the library I am member at (cologne university) doesn't keep this one in stock.
There should be some pictures in it that could help me (referring to Sybille Schmitz - stehaufsatz.com) maybe.

Sources that I researched today and that I did not check yet (going to the library next monday):

"Das wohltemperierte Alphabet", Axel Bertram
"Anatomy of a typeface didot", Alexander S. Lawson
"The Didot Family and the progress of printin", Albert Joseph George

Maybe some of you already did a big research at didot and can help me with more tipps about sources that are needed or that prove the fundamental facts like "who, when, where, why"? Or say, the books I get monday are enough?
Next problem:
I wasn't able to find that much examples of using didot. An I'm not sure which examples are the most interesting ones.
Being aware of the fact that there are a lot of digital didot fonts and that fashion magazine got their own version built, this is what i found:
http://maxboam.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/vibe1203-minaj.jpg
http://www.harpersbazaar.com/cm/harpersbazaar/images/3R/4-hbz-editors-le...
http://i599.photobucket.com/albums/tt74/vogue2891/Marlene_tfs_voguecover...
http://nashaification.blogspot.de/2012/09/type-5-examples-of-didot-linot... (bookcovers)

Fashion, fashion, fashion. HTF didot at Harpers Bazaar, another specified version for vogue, and so on. Then a lot of bookcovers. But what about other examples? Are these enough or do you as typographs want to see other examples with copytext or a more creative way of use? I ask this because of my docent. The booklet is his to evaluate and I want to impress him and do something I can be proud of. I am also concerned about hard- or softcover and size. I think I personally would prefer a hardcover version in DinA5 portrait format with matt pages. What would you like? I mean "booklet" itself should usually be softcover, but I think it may upgrade the appearance and reflect what I want to say: That one's better. More solid.

By the way Sybille Schmitz meant I should contact Mr. Frutiger. I'm wondering how that should be possible the whole time.. didn't find ONE contact adress even after an exhausting search.

I hope I don't ask too much from you and my English isn't too rusty, didn't use it for a long time.
Maybe I should have waited till I got those books and read a bit, but I'm already dying to start this thing.
Sorry for the long text but it's important to me and I feel like I need someone who's pushing me in the right direction.

Of course I would love to show the result to you as soon as it's finished!

Have a nice day!

Conny

hrant's picture

First of all: try to get in touch with Jean François Porchez. Frutiger you can contact via Linotype; but he is pretty old now.

I am desperately looking for books or other sources that are based on scientific evidence. Especially on some facts.

Out of context this sounds reasonable enough, but in this context I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're really looking for... Could you explain?

I want to show when it first got revealed, by whom, why, where, how popular it was, its ....

A small -and very old- tidbit you might enjoy:
http://typophile.com/node/138

About the Baskerville connection: Bodoni was a great admirer of John Baskerville, and went on a trip to visit him. But he got sick along the way (in fact even before even leaving the borders of Italy) so he never made it.

First printed thing with Didot font was "La Henriade" (Voltaire)

Huh, interesting. When Beaumarchais brought Baskerville's punches to France to cast new type, it was to print Voltaire's complete works! BTW if you need any French passages translated just send them over.

Concerning what might be fruitful to pursue: since the Didone style is so "dramatic" it would be interesting to see how much compromise is required when shooting for text sizes (since smaller sizes of type benefit by having features anathema to the Didone style). I believe a style have its preferred size range, and outside of that range it's not really itself. Can a Didone still be a Didone at 10 point?

Lastly, I would offer this favorite quote of mine:
"Bodoni would be an admirable letter for a death notice."
– W. G. Ovink

hhp

Ereshkigal's picture

Thank you for your fast answer.

Out of context this sounds reasonable enough, but in this context I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're really looking for... Could you explain?

I mean I need primary sources, not secondary sources because of academic integrity.
It should be a scientific research, at least as far as I am able to do so. So I'm looking for proves for the facts I wrote, for example the ones I found at ilovetypography.com because this source would not be scientific.

About the Baskerville connection: Bodoni was a great admirer of John Baskerville, and went on a trip to visit him. But he got sick along the way (in fact even before even leaving the borders of Italy) so he never made it.

Okay. You say that. But where is the source for this information? I know I can believe you, but I don't think that you found that out yourself, did you? So I'm looking for primary sources that prove these facts. Did you read this in a book? Is there another good book that is English or German and tells such interesting facts?

Huh, interesting. When Beaumarchais brought Baskerville's punches to France to cast new type, it was to print Voltaire's complete works! BTW if you need any French passages translated just send them over.

I don't know if you misunderstood me here. I meant, I read that the first printed thing those Didot types (fonttype Didot itself that Firmin released) were used was the Henriade and that it was printed by his brother Pierre with sterotype method. I don't know what you mean with this. Voltaire's work is older then Didot and already was printed some times before of course. I didn't mean "La Henriade" was printed first by Firmin Didot but the first thing he printed with the new typeface was "La Henriade"
But this are facts I also only read at the www. I want books that tell me more about it. And if possible in English or German.

Thanks for offering me translations, but I couldn't even find the passages I need, I don't understand one word. So I can't use French books.

I believe a style have its preferred size range, and outside of that range it's not really itself. Can a Didone still be a Didone at 10 point?

This could be interesting. But maybe I need more original prints to compare.

That quote. True. Didn't look at the typeface like that till now. Always thought about soldiers, esp. because I read about that comparison already, but it could be gravestones too, indeed. I think it's even the better metaphor because it includes that gravestones can look elegant and beautiful.

About the graph:
It's interesting that the gap between use and revival becomes smaller over the years. Maybe the need of more different typefaces was rising at about 1900. What does "Modern" mean? Modern, maybe already "digitzed" typefaces? Bodoni revived before Baskerville, it followed then. Hm.
Why can't I find Didot in it? And in books it is missing sometimes too. I recently bought a book "Wegweiser Schrift", and it tells some facts about specimen and stuff, of course Baskerville, yes, and Bodoni, and OH YES, Walbaum, too. But Didot? No. Why?

Btw: I just wrote an e-mail to Mr. Porchez.

Sorry again, I know my English is hard to understand. Thanks for going through it though.
Thanks for helping me, I admit it!

Michel Boyer's picture

> the first thing he printed with the new typeface was "La Henriade"

According to the French wiki Firmin Didot, La Henriade is dated 1819. Could you just check the digital scan of the Camões, Os lusiadas, dated 1817?

DTY's picture

For primary sources, you should look for examples of early printed work from the Didot printing house. I did a quick search on Google Books for with the search words firmin didot and the search restricted to items published between 1784 and 1800. I did not check everything, but the earliest book that I saw which appears to be in Didot's type is this from 1790:
http://books.google.com/books?id=Bo0OAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP7

(I hope this is visible in Europe. Google Books restricts French items for legal reasons, but I think this should be old enough to be safe.)

DTY's picture

Thinking a bit more, I realized Firmin's name would not necessarily be found on books printed when he was still young, so I did a search on didot for books published between 1784 and 1789 and found many more examples, one of which (from 1784) should have turned up before:
http://books.google.com/books?id=_GACAAAAQAAJ

Michel Boyer's picture

Here is another "Google book", this time in German, containing the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Mittwochs, den 9ten August 1786, that makes a review (page 267) of a book printed with Firmin's characters in 1786; the book contains the Épitre above, in upright characters.

Ereshkigal's picture

@hrant, I found the source to what you wrote about the visit Bodoni/Baskerville in "Anatomy of a typeface", page 119.

Thanks for the article about the didot's press, that's interesting. I think I underestimated Google Books a bit..
This one was very helpful, the letters are well printed and scanned enough so I can use it as historic example. And yes, Michel, it proves I was wrong. Thank you so much!

Thank you very much, I borrowed two more books and am starting to sort all information into columns so I can print this pretty soon. Our docent mentioned that we should print as cheap as possible, so I guess I'm going for a brochure "only" after all

Thanks a lot for your help!
Have a nice weekend.

hrant's picture

Ah, thank you! I'll try to remember that for future reference.

hhp

Ereshkigal's picture

199, not 119, sorry.

hrant's picture

Too late - I already embedded "119" into my long-term memory. ;-)

hhp

Ereshkigal's picture

Meh.. i knew it! :F

Syndicate content Syndicate content