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You are here: Home / Conferences / Montréal 2017 / Programme

Peculiar accented letters in Québec city's first type specimen

When Thu 14 Sep 1720
Where UQAM, Cœur des sciences
Who Will Hill, Nathalie Dumont

This paper will explore the provenance of the peculiar accented letters in the first type specimen printed in Québec city by the printer Augustin Côté, in 1844.

Printing had not been allowed in Canada under French rule, and only started under the British in 1764, in the province of Québec. According to Hulse (1981), Canadian printers bought their fonts from England and the United States. This created certain printing challenges in a province where French was the dominant language.

The Côté specimen reveals visible anomalies in the accented letters, indicating that these were produced separately to augment type cases that lacked the diacritics necessary for French-language printing. The inconsistencies of letter structure, and the design of the diacritics themselves, suggest a locally improvised solution in a city that had no type foundries.

The speakers have been investigating both the provenance of the original types, and the possible means by which the additional letters may have been produced.

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