Didot, François

Didot, François fräNswäˈ dēdōˈ [key], 1689–1757, Parisian printer. The son of a printer, Denis Didot, he was the first of the family to win fame in his craft. His son, François Ambroise Didot, 1730–1804, was said by Benjamin Franklin Bache to be the best printer of his time. Bache was apprenticed to Didot by his grandfather, Benjamin Franklin. The scholarly and typographic excellence of Didot's books is unquestioned. Influenced by the work of Baskerville, he designed type in the modern, pseudoclassical style, and his work in turn influenced that of Bodoni. Didot improved the point system of measuring and naming sizes of type, first employed by Pierre Simon Fournier, and secured its general adoption in France. His sons, Pierre Didot, 1761–1853, and Firmin Didot, 1764–1836, continued the family tradition, producing handsome books, mostly classics, with well-chosen texts conscientiously and skillfully edited. The Didot family never overlooked the requirements of students and general readers for good but inexpensive books. Firmin Didot was the first in France to print books from stereotype plates, a process he improved and named, enabling him to make less expensive books. His sons followed him in the family business.

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