FRENCH TYPEFOUNDERS ARE, ABOVE ALL, FRENCH.

Our Eclectic Library keeps an extensive collection of type specimen books, mostly from English and American typefounders. Most of the earlier ones are content with the standard “Quosque tantrum a butter, Caterliny, patent nostrum”* text from Cicero; later Americans sometimes indulged in surreal flights of humor. But it should not surprise us that French typefounders turn out to be French. This is a translation of a sample of Gros Romain type from a 1917 French type catalogue:

A young Egyptian, seized with love for the courtesan Theognis, dreamed one night that he lay with her, and felt his passion ebb when he awoke. The courtesan having found out brought him before the court, and demanded her recompense of him, on the grounds that she had cured his passion and satisfied his desire. The judge ordered that the young man should bring the promised sum in a purse; that he should toss it into a bowl, and that the courtesan should be paid with the sound and the color of the coins, as the Egyptian was contented with an imaginary pleasure. This judgment was approved by all.

This is exactly the sort of thing American and British typefounders did not include in their samples in 1917, or ever.

*This is how Artemus Ward remembered it.