Blue Pencil no. 66—James Mosley on the dating of several Imprimerie Royale type specimens
The authenticity of the date given for Épreuve d’un Nouveau Caractere pour l’Imprimerie Royale (Paris: Gravé par Alexandre, ) in my list of type specimens from 1700 to 1769 (Blue Pencil no. 62) is considered spurious by type historian James Mosley. He wrote about it (and several other specimens of the romain du roi with questionable dates) in an article published by a French bibliophile society in 2002. Excerpts from a 2008 PDF version of Mosley’s article, which he designed for use in teaching at the University of Reading, are reproduced below thanks to Sébastien Morlighem who brought the text to my attention.
Excerpts from “Type Specimens of the Imprimerie Royale 1643–1828” by James Mosley in Bulletin du Bibliophile 1 (2002), pp. 70–99.
Épreuve d’un nouveau caractere pour l’Imprimerie impériale. A Paris, gravé par Firmin Didot, Chef de la Gravure de la Fonderie de l’Imprimerie impériale. Février 1812.
 ff. 29 x 21 cm. Audin 9. 
The type body used for the text of the specimen is not identified, but appears to be 16 “millimetric” points of 0.4 mm.
Copies: London, St. Bride Printing Library 5769(3), bound with the specimens of “1702” and “1712” listed below; Audin, plates XII, XIII, reproduces the title page and the page of titling capitals, giving no indication where a copy is to be found. It is probable that, like several other plates in Audin’s book, which was printed in England under the supervision of Stanley Morison, the illustration was made from the copy in St. Bride Printing Library, which is he only one that is known to exist. The two specimens of “1702” and “1712” listed below are evidently associated with this item: indeed, their size, appearance and wording, which are almost identical, not to mention the conceit of the matching month and year, suggest that they may have been printed to accompany it. Note that the date on each of the title pages, following the convention employed in the earlier specimens of the romain du roi, is given for the cutting of the type rather than the printing of the specimen. Several physical details indicate that these specimens were printed considerably later than the dates on their title pages: the most striking is that both are printed on wove paper, which was introduced after 1750, and not made in France until the 1789s.
Épreuve d’un nouveau caractere pour l’Imprimerie royale. A Paris, gravé par Grandjean, graveur de l’Imprimerie royale. Février, 1702.
29 x 21 cm.  ff. Audin 2.
Copies: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France (Rés. Atlas Q. 21); London, St. Bride Printing Library (5769(1)). See the note to specimen 12, above. The type used for the text of the specimen is the 9th on Truchet’s scale, 17 points Didot, which was used for the text of the Medailles sur les principaux événements du règne de Louis le Grand (1702). Grandjean submitted claims for payment for the cutting of the roman (see S4, below) from October 1697 to March 1799 and for the italic from July to November 1701. See also specimen 3, above. 
Épreuve d’un nouveau caractere pour l’Imprimerie royale. A Paris, gravé par [Grandjean] Alexandre, graveur de l’Imprimerie royale. Février, 1712.
29 x 21 cm.  ff. The name of Grandjean appears on the title page. The name of ‘Alexandre’, printed on a slip of paper, is pasted over it.
Copies: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France (Rés. Atlas Q. 21); London, St. Bride Printing Library (5769(2)). See the note to specimen 12, above. The body of the type used for the text of this specimen, known under the traditional name of ‘gros romain’, was known as the 8óe or 8-9, a size interpolated between the 8th (14 points Didot) and 9th (17 points Didot) on Truchet’s scale. Alexandre’s accounts for 1729 (see S4, below) include a ‘Memoire des Poinçoins droits du 8–9: qui est le gros romain, oeil de université qui ont esté faits et justifiez par Alexandre’. There does not appear to be an earlier record of the type. 
1. Audin refers to Les livrets typographiques des fonderies françaises, créées avant 1800 by Marius Audin (Paris: A l’enseigne de Pégase, 1933).
2. Specimen no. 3 in Mosley’s census is Epreuve de l’onziéme alphabet droit et penché, gravé par Philippe Grandjean pour l’Imprimerie royale en 1704. “Reproduced, reduced in scale, in André Jammes, ‘Calligraphie et typographie sous Louis XIV, Caractère noël, 1961, and in the same author’s ‘Le Grandjean et la naissance de la typographie moderne’, in L’Art du livre à l’Imprimerie nationale (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1973), p. 133.”
3. S4 in Mosley’s article is “Memoire des ouurages faits par Philippe Grandjean, grauueur de l’Imprimerie Royale pour le seruice du Roy, par ordre de Monseigneur de Pontchartrain. [etc.]”, a copy of which is in the Archives Nationales in Paris (AJ17/8). Mosley describes the mémoires as “the dated accounts requesting payment for specified work which were periodically rendered between 1693 and 1792 by the successive graveurs du roi, Philippe Grandjean, Jean Alexandre, Louis Luce and Charles Fagnon. They provide details of the cutting of the punches for different sizes of roman and italic types and titling capitals with their matrices, of the making of supplementary characters, and of ancillary work such as the refurbishing of older punches, matrices and moulds.”