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Anyone have any idea of the history/provenance of these caps?
I recall these. IIRC French early 19th century. I'll check & see if I have a reference.
Alphabet Lapidaire Monstre, Jean Midolle (ca 1834)
Has anyone successfully digitized it that you're aware of?
Wow, that's crazy! Thanks for sharing it.
Thanks all, very helpful. Digitizing an alphabet would be a "monstre" task...
Armin Haab's _Lettera_ Vol 1 1959  has a high quality reproduction at pp. 82-83 of Jean Midolle's _Alphabet Lapidaire Monstre_ of 1834-35
It is also reproduced in Frederick W. Lambert's _Letter forms_ 1964 at p. 119
Today's Trivia: The bottom third of each letter includes surnames of famous men which begin with the letter. Some of the people are obscure today, such Quinault, but others such as Goethe and Rabelais are still familar. Urban Outfitter used some of the letters on it's shopping bags in 2008.
Luc Devroye's page on the designer, Jean Midolle http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-33645.html Luc missed the Alphabet Lapidaire Monstre but has a discussion of his other bizarre font, _Alphabet Diabolique_, which was digitized by Jessica Slater.
I seem to recall that one of the many Dover books on decorative alphabets and initials (perhaps Nesbitt's aptly named Decorative Alphabets and Initials?) had a reproduction of this font. Digitizing it would be a nightmare; better to buy the book and scan the letters.
I have copy in "Early Advertising Alphabets, Initials and Typographic Ornaments", edited by Clarence P. Hornung, Dover Publications. The letters are so detailed and the book isn't large enough for a scan to help all that much.
Hi Dick, I'm familiar with the Hornung book. The reproduction quality is OK for for most fonts but not for a fine line specimen like this. I recommend the Haab Lettera reproduction, which is superior quality Swiss printing on two pages of glossy paper. The Lambert version is intermediate in quality.
I didn't bother scanning any of the versions because the complexity meant that it would not be a candidate for fonting, at least not by me. Also I find the design to be rather clunkly and more of a curiosity than something people would actually use. But that's just my opinion -- perhaps a letter might work as a chapter heading in something like a steampunk context.
I started it once, but lost the draft somewhere along the way. Not going back to try and find it ... It would take forever to complete.
Looked up the Haab Lettera and see they do show a two page spread, but it is ALSO missing a W -- wonder if it was the common source for Hornung and Haab?(Nick's picture shows one!)
This is the original one, in color. From:
Jean Midolle, Spécimen des écritures modernes comprenant les romaines fleuronnées, gothiques
nouvelles, fractures, françaises, anglaise, italienne et allemande. Strasbourg: Fc. Emile Simon fils, 1834–35. 40 leaves. 28 × 40 cm. Lettering artist: Jean Midolle. Chromolithographers: Auguste Ehrhardt, C. Fasoli, E. Lemaître. Printer: Frédéric Emile Simon fils, Strasbourg.
Ok but, it doesn't have the W !