The Elzevir revival

In reaction to the systematic use of the Didones and the invasion of cheap typography in popular novels and advertising, printers, type founders and publishers sought to revive certain high-quality typefaces. In their eyes, the French and Dutch Renaissance had produced the best examples of these. In Lyon, around 1845, the printer Louis Perrin, drawing inspiration from Romany inscriptions discovered during archaeological excavations, commissioned Francisque Rey fils, a type founder, to create alphabet of capital letters in several sizes, entitled "Augustaux". Later he searched through archives and the stocks of founders and printers to add lowercase, letters to his font, which led to the publication of the first "Elzevirean typefaces" around 1854. This initiative was the start of a French typography revival in the 2nd half of the 19th century. As Perrin himself stated, " while we are waiting for the 19th century to develop a taste of its own, I think that we should return to the tastes of the 16th century, whose masterpieces seem to me to be unsurpassed.”

"I think that we should return to the tastes of the 16th century, whose masterpieces seem to me to be unsurpassed." Louis Perrin.

In Paris, publishers turned their attention to the small-format books (in-12) published by the Elzevier family in the 17th century, and to the type they were composed with. In 1853, to meet the needs of the “Elzevierian Library” that he founded for this purpose, the bookseller Pierre Jannet designed the ancient Roman characters himself around 1856. Théophile Beaudoire, the head of the Fonderie Générale, also put an "Elzevir" roman typeface on the market in 1858. All of these creations, which were fairly similar, form the bases of many interpretations up through the early 20th century. It represented a return to typography's roots, which nevertheless erased the name of Garamond for decades, as the Elzevirean faces had much more in common with their Dutch predecessors then with those of Robert Estienne.

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