The enigmatic eels (Anguilla anguilla) in Christophe Jacquet dit Toffe’s typeface made their way as small transparent glass eels from the Sargasso Sea to the Loire Valley before being captured on film. The typeface Anguille turns loops, takes detours, moves backwards and forwards, with no fathomable end or beginning. It shifts shape and time, plays dead then quickens with energy, working and reworking cursive forms before moving onto the next transient glyph. Its slippery beauty lies in the fact it can’t be fixed or fully known. It remains an enigma.

In Japanese mythology, eels can shapeshift further into Unagi Hime (eel princesses), or act as guardians or messengers. When Kobo Daishi, the Japanese monk, poet and calligrapher (who once communed with W A Dwiggins on his typeface Electra) found himself in great difficulty when trying to cross a swollen river after heavy rain, a giant eel came to his aid and took the place of a bridge to help him safely cross. Lest we forget that Anguille is also an act of collaboration and we express our gratitude to the eels in the making of it.

Christophe set up the camera mid-afternoon on the banks of the Loire and then as arranged met the fisherman Jérôme Monfray as he moored his boat transporting the eels. Christophe placed the eels in a white container, and filmed them from above by one, alone, then by two, and finally by three. We can hear nature’s chorus and the wind – which was long thought to play a role in activating the eels out of their beds – battering the microphone.

Every time the wind passed. Years
Later in the same fields
He stood at night when eels
Moved through the grass like hatched fears
(Seamus Heaney, A Lough Neagh Sequence)

To complete the tale, the eels were returned to the river. If the conditions are in their favour, they will return to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce and meet their end.

Available in 1 style for £48
Note that Anguille is a video file, it is a typeface in name and spirit alone. Please see the conditions for use


Caractères vidéographiques
Duration: 9′ 04″
Author: Christophe Jacquet dit Toffe
Place: Chalonnes-sur-Loire, France
Date: 20 February 2019
Fisherman: Jérôme Monfray
Video operator: Clément Faydit

And when did this begin?
This morning, last year, when the lough first spawned?
The crows will answer, ‘Once the season’s in.’


I. The Setting


II. The Lifting


III. The Going