3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

January 15, 2003 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on January 15, 2003.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us


The Romain du Roi -- the story of a type font


A remarkable exhibit, and a remarkably well - done catalog to accompany it, just have appeared courtesy of the Musée de l'Imprimerie in Lyon:

This should be of interest to anyone at all curious about type fonts and their history, and printing -- and also about the use, by The State, of the information and communications process --

The wonderfully - presented catalog makes the case clearly: from the unusual birth of this particular technological innovation --

-- to its curious and contentious beginnings as a type - font - designed - by - a - committee --

-- to American printer Ben Franklin's fascination with the font, and his enterprising use of it to "encode" some of the earliest official correspondence of the young United States --

-- to the gradual decay of enthusiasm for the font -- and for the classical and totalitarian mindset which it represented and, to some, even graphically depicted --

-- to the eventual revival of the technique, if not of the mindset, as at least one of the outstanding aesthetic and cultural monuments of the civilization which produced it --

"Pour chaque ouvrage il est décidé d'employer le caractère correspondant à son époque"...

Typography -- and communications generally -- as technique, as history, and as Official Policy... of sadly increasing interest to all of us in these "Internet - centralization" and "filtering" and "communications secrecy" times...


The catalog is immensely readable: wonderful just to hold and to look at -- but then also easily read, in short articles which flow smoothly together. For anyone with any interest at all in the role of printing, and of type fonts, in the history of general culture -- and for anyone at all sceptical about same -- the catalog offers a congenial and fascinating introduction to the entire general subject.

Most interesting of all, to me personally -- in addition to the well - written short articles, and the beautiful illustrations among which the full proofsheet of the original font --

Gravés par M.rs GRANDJEAN,

-- are the six pages, in the catalog at pp. 42-47, which display the matrices actually used in the design of the characters, complete with compass lines and extensions --

"Ludovicus Simonneau fecit 1695"

-- here, pace Edward Tufte, at one stroke a student can see how font design is done, graphically and easily and completely, and in a way which engages students' attention and tempts them irresistibly to try it themselves --


Anyway, if anyone is interested -- I hope people will be, as it is a beautiful book -- the catalog may be seen at,


where a very good online presentation of the exhibition may be found as well. I am told that catalog copies are available for sale at € 20 each, "port compris".


And if anyone is in the Lyon area, or can get there within the next couple of weeks, the exhibition is on now and does not close until February 2... and Lyon has all of that great cuisine, and all of that chocolate, and the Parc de la Tête d'Or, and so many other attractions as well...

Happy New Year.




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M. Eiffel

Copyright © 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.
W3 site maintained at http://www.fyifrance.com
Document maintained by: Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us
Last update: January 15, 2003