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LUC DEVROYE


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Imprimerie H. Balzac [Honoré de Balzac]

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), a famous author, got involved in printing in 1826 when he André Barbier (b. 1793), a typesetter, set up a printing and publishing business on the Rue de Marais-Saint-Germain in Paris. At one time, thirty workers were employed at Imprimerie H. Balzac which was funded with 70,000 Francs in borrowed money from Balzac's mother, as well as from his mistress, Laure De Berny. Link. The printing business thrived. In 1827, he bought Laurent's typesetting firm in order to extend his immediate control over all aspects of the printing business. In 1827, he published a specimen book with many Egyptian letter types. Another publication was Specimen des divers caracteres vignettes et ornemens typographiques de la Fonderie de Laurent et De Berny (now republished with a foreword by J. Dreyfus). Earlier that year, he had also bought the famous foundry of Joseph-Gaspard Gillé. See also here. Balzac spent most of his income to access the social circles of his mistress, Duchess d'Abrantès. Barbier left the business in 1828. The Imprimerie went bankrupt that same year. Luckily, Balzac's first mistress, Louise-Antoinette-Laure De Berny (1777-1836), forgave her loan and took over the print shop. As the wife of a high-ranking official in the French royal court and god-child of Queen Marie-Antoinette, Laure De Berny had sufficient financial resources. She entrusted the business to her 19 year-old son, Alexandre De Berny (1809-1881). Balzac left the type and printing business. Laurent&Deberny was born. References include Balzac: A Life (Graham Robb, 1994: New York: W. W. Norton& Company), and an article in Caractère in 1975 entitled Deberny et Peignot: La Belle Époque de la Typographie.

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html