crowned himself Emperor on 2 December 1804, he had invitation cards made by the best printers in the city, the Offizin Didot
. At record speed, 40-year-old Firmin Didot
created the typeface “Romain de L’Empereur” (Emperor Roman), which was used just one single time. The exclusive font was the first to include quotation marks in a form that is still used today in the English-speaking world: the “guillemets anglais”, a 66 and 99 at minuscule height.
Firmin Didot had taken over his father’s printing house with his older brother Pierre in the revolutionary year of 1789. A few years later they moved into the rooms of the former Imprimerie Royale
in the Louvre, where they produced beautiful folio editions of the works of Vergil, Horace and Lafontaine, set in a perfected reworking of the Didot type named after their father, François Ambroise
. The flawless neo-classical Roman font soon became predominant across the whole of Europe.
This gold medal was presented to Firmin Didot by Napoleon at an industrial exhibition in 1801 (Image: Firmin Didot family collection)