Didot is the name of a family of French printers, punch-cutters and publishers. Through its achievements and advancements in printing, publishing and typography, the family has lent its name to typographic measurements developed by François-Ambroise Didot and the Didot typeface developed by Firmin Didot.
François-Ambroise Didot was born in 1730 and died in 1804. He was appointed printer to the clergy in 1788. He invented a new printing-press, improved type-founding, and was the first to print on vellum paper.
About 1780 François-Ambroise Didot adapted the point system for sizing typefaces by width, using units of 1/72 of the pre-metric French inch. His “point”, later named the didot after him, became the prevailing unit of type measurement throughout continental Europe and its former colonies, including Latin America. In 1973 it was metrically standardized at 0.375 mm for the European Union.
Firmin Didot was born in 1764 and died in 1836. Firmin Didot was the inventor of stereotypography which entirely changed the book trade. Firmin Didot 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.
Firmin Didot is credited with designing and establishing the use of the “Modern” classification of typefaces. The types that Didot used are characterized by extreme contrast in thick strokes and thin strokes, by the use of hairline serifs and by the vertical stress of the letters. Many fonts today are available based on Firmin Didot’s typefaces. These include Linotype Didot and HTF Didot.
And here are a few great poster examples of Didot.