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4–7 September, 2019

Friday, 6 September | | Miraikan Hall

Talk | Presented in English

The Sans Serif in France: The Early Years (1834–44)

Sans serif types began to spread in England in the early 1830s and later became popular on the European continent. Their introduction and development in France remain only minimally researched and documented to this day. Although the first French sans serif types such as the “Lettres sans traits” (Marcellin-Legrand, Plassan et Comp. foundry) were influenced by British models, several original designs blossomed and swiftly stood out in this manifold genre soon to be named “Antiques.” This presentation represents the initial fruits of a long-distance investigation. It aims to introduce the audience to the slow but undeniable breakthrough of the sans serif in a lively and transformative era, one characterized not only by technological innovations and an explosion of information, but also by the rise of Romantic literature and arts and the growth and diversification of the publishing trade. Sébastien Morlighem draws on a wide range of little-known documents found in public and private collections, showing typefaces in use in journals, books, posters, and jobbing printing, as well as surprising letterforms pervading engraving, lithography, and sign painting. Thus the presentation examines the situation of “type making” in parallel with other ways of designing letters and provides insight into the evolution of the French typefounding market.