J131.13 : Gilles Filleau des Billettes (1634-1720)
Gilles was born in 1634, the youngest son of Nicolas Filleau and his wife, Françoise Béliard, who was described by Louis Moréri as being from one of the most noble houses in the region. He moved with his brothers to Paris, where he lived most of his life.
At the instigation of Colbert*, one of the principal ministers of Louis XIV, and with three other scholars, he prepared a huge work entitled "Description des arts et métiers", "une collection d'ouvrages sur les métiers artisanaux", later published, over a period of many decades, in 73 volumes by l'Académie royale des sciences. The later volumes were illustrated by some of the finest artist of the 18th century.
In particular, he described the process of making "Stencilled manuscripts", a halfway house between written and printed text. He composed an extensive account of the process for the “Description des Arts et Métiers” . In his description he suggests the practice was created by someone (name unknown) c. 1650, and specifically mentions that books for particular churches were written in this way, as opposed to printed books used more generally by the whole church
In 1699, he was elected a member of l'Académie royale des sciences
He married twice, but the name of only one wife is known: Françoise Sicard, who died on April 24, 1671 in Poitiers. According to Moreri, he had no children.
His brother, François Filleau de St Martin, was famous for making the first French translation of Don Quixote.
Gilles had one more brother, Jean Filleau de la Chaise, a noted theologian, and sisters Françoise (who married Jean de la Lande, "seigneur de Lavau", Marie, and Catherine, who married John Chabusant.
* I think this is the same Colbert (1619-1683) who had Samuel's Dictionaire suppressed in 1681
References and links
A reconstruction of stencilling based on the description by Gilles Filleau des Billettes. In: Kindel, E. and Luna, P. (eds.) Typography papers 9. Hyphen Press, London, pp. 28-65. ISBN 9780907259480
This essay recounts and illustrates the reconstruction and testing of tools, furniture and working methods for stencilling texts. The description on which the reconstruction is based on writings by Gilles Filleau des Billettes in Paris in the 1690s'
3. Moréri, Louis (1643-1680), Le Grand Dictionnaire historique ou le mélange curieux de l’Histoire sacrée et profane. Quatrième édition, divisée en deux tomes, Lyon, Girin et Rivière, 1687