Better known for its wines, the perfection of its local spoken French, its cathedral and chateau, the city of Tours France also has a surprisingly rich historical connection with printing and typography. I was in Tours recently and visited the Musee de la Typographie.
It may be small, but it’s full of all sorts of different kinds of old printing equipment and tools, typefaces, woodcuts and handmade paper. As one visitor put it:
“Muriel Méchin, the owner takes you on a personal discovery tour of his museum, including printing off some examples for you to take home on a press from the 1800s. I have been to many printing museums, but this is the first I have found that contains compositors tools such as the Moule à Arçon, a hand-held individual character casting device, that was the forerunner of the mechanical Monotype and Linotype machines hundreds of years later.You can actually handle many of the exhibits which most museums forbid.
Muriel has published a very informative book which we were able to purchase; it is chock full of historical information and illustrated with photos and drawings explaining the history of a most interesting industry that goes back many hundreds of years. The museum is free.”
Since Muriel doesn’t speak English, I sat down with his colleague Jean Louis Maitre to talk about the museum and the fascinating printing history of the region.
If you like English spoken with a thick French accent, you’ll love listening to Jean Louis.
For information on visiting Tour, click here.