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You are here: Home / Conferences / Antwerp 2018 / Programme

How a Frenchman unknowingly became Germany’s first type designer

When Sat 15 Sep 1010
Where Arenberg Theater
Who Daniel Reynolds
German design historians define 19th-century designers as artists who created drawings determining new products’ appearances, but were not involved in their production. They may not have even understood the process behind those products’ manufacture. By this definition, Jean Midolle may be Germany’s first type designer, although he was almost certainly unaware that that Eduard Haenel’s typefoundry in Berlin used a page from a pattern book of his as a design source. This presentation will explain how Haenel’s “Midolline” typeface quickly inspired a new category of 19th-century type classification and became a term printers briefly used as shorthand for all roman/blackletter hybrids. I shall also address the “Midolline” phenomenon, by which nine loosely related type designs were distributed across dozens of foundries in the western world during the second half of the 19th century, from Prague to St. Louis, and Edinburgh to Vienna. Jean Midolle the man was born in or near Burgundy in Revolutionary France. Among other places, his career took him to Geneva and Strasbourg before his trail goes cold in Belgium, where he may have died. With this presentation, I hope to encourage researchers to uncover more details of his work there.

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