Garamond or Garamont?
This small engraving (47 by 28 mm) was included by Léonard Gaultier towards the end of the 16th century in his ‘Portraits of illustrious men who have flourished in France since the year 1500 until the present’. It is the only image we have of the maker of printing types whose name has been better known for longer than that of any other. It gives his name as ‘Claude Garamont’. Was this how he spelt it himself? And is this how should we spell the name now?
It seems clear that ‘Garamont’ was indeed his own spelling. It is the form that appears in most of the surviving contemporary documents connected with his working life in France, and it is in the imprint of the handful of small format volumes that he published during 1545 in partnership with Jean Barbé, either as Garamont or Latinized as Garamontius. This is from the Thucydides.
(Note: The combination of r and a is an awkward one for italic types of this date, where the form of a slopes up to a point and leaves a gap: it would be better if the r could be kerned to fill the space, but because, as shown here, it may need to be placed next to tall characters like i and b this cannot be done routinely. Some title pages among these little books illustrate the problem. As this example shows, one answer was to make an ra ligature, a combination that Alexander de Paganinis had already used in the cursive type with which he printed in Toscolano in the 1520s. As will be seen from the detail of the title page of his essay on Garamont of 1914, shown below, Jean Paillard included an ra ligature in the type made under his direction by Ollière in 1913.)
For some centuries the form ‘Garamond’ has been the more common usage, indeed for much of the time effectively the only one. However there are signs that the dominant use of this form, which has been on the wane for a century now, may now be over, among professional historians of typography at any rate: during recent decades they have increasingly tended to give the name as Claude Garamont. This note is an attempt to trace the process, and incidentally to follow the history of the reputation of Garamont himself.
One reason for the continuing familiarity of ‘Garamond’, so spelt, is because during the twentieth century it became attached to several different typefaces, many of which are still in current use.
One of the most prominent and well-marketed ‘Garamond’ types was among the group of early historically-based classics from major makers of types in the years before and after the First World War. The ‘Garamond’ of the American Type Founders Co, apparently begun in 1917 and shown above as it appears in the massive ATF specimen of 1923, was based very closely, as the company failed to make quite clear, on the set of types that had been made not long before in order to expand a series of founts cast from the early matrices in the possession of the Imprimerie nationale in Paris, and to which the name ‘Garamond’ had been given by the French national printing office. The English Monotype Corporation was encouraged by the example from the US and by customers in Britain to make its own version of the type for machine composition in 1922 under the same name. When speakers of English say Garamond, its last letter is of course fully audible.
The new director of the Imprimerie nationale, Arthur Christian (appointed in 1895), following in the wake of other ‘revivers’ of older types during the second half of the 19th century who had employed them for the reprinting of classic texts (the recasting of the Caslon types, and later of the 17th-century ‘Fell types’ at Oxford, are British examples), created a complete proprietary typeface for the use of the national printing office by employing the punchcutter Hénaffe to add other sizes to the unidentified old romans and italics, known as caractères de l’Université of which the Imprimerie nationale possessed matrices for three sizes. The name of ‘Garamont’ or ‘Garamond’ had become attached to them and ‘Garamond’ was the form that was adopted. (A showing of the three original sizes, cast on bodies of 36, 24 and 18 points IN together with four new sizes on 16, 12, 11 and 9 points and the note ‘autres corps en préparation’, appears for what may be the first the first time in the Spécimen simplifié des types divers de l’Imprimerie nationale dated 1904.) Christian made use of this type to initiate the making of some spectacular examples of fine printing at the Imprimerie nationale, including the title that has a claim to be among the most accomplished examples ever made of the livre d’artiste, the edition of Verlaine, Parallèlement, that appeared in 1900, to the consternation of some members of the Assemblée nationale, under the joint imprint of the Imprimerie nationale and the enterprising art dealer and patron Ambroise Vollard, with the arresting verse printed in beautifully cast italics over lithographic images in rose pink drawn on the stone by Pierre Bonnard.
The chief reason for the familiarity of the name of the punchcutter and its repeated appearance in texts relating to the history of printing in France is because he was known to historians as the maker of the grecs du roi, the Greek types with complex ligatures, of which the punches, still preserved, were known to have been cut during the 1540s and not only used to make matrices for the types of Robert Estienne, imprimeur du roi, but which he apparently took with him to Geneva when he prudently left Paris, a topic that would continue to be debated for a long time. There was also a tradition, less certainly based, that he had made roman and italic types of outstanding quality.
Jean de La Caille, in his Histoire de l’imprimerie et de la librairie (Paris, 1689), expresses the still enduring sense at that time of a uniquely celebrated talent, a maker of types that were still extant and, as he implies, still in use. He does so using a spelling that appears not to have been much used in print, if at all, although there are instances in the correspondence of the Plantin printing-office: ‘Il y avait aussi de son temps Claude Garramont, qui épousa Guillemette Gaultier. Il était un des plus habiles fondeurs de son temps, dont il nous reste presentement plusieurs Frappes & Matrices qui portent encore son nom.’
Roman types identified with the name of ‘Garamond’ (mostly reliably but the Petit Canon is Granjon’s) had appeared on the broadside specimen of types offered for sale in 1592 by Conrad Berner in Frankfurt am Main, which came to light just before the outbreak of the First World War, although it is not known how the foundry, of which an earlier owner was the lyonnais Jacques Sabon, obtained its matrices.
More evidence that the reputation was more than merely national comes from the observation that Garamond (but also Garmond or Garmont – the spelling varies) was a term that became used in Germany and the Low Countries (but not, as Fournier thought, in England) to designate a size of type, generally one that was roughly equivalent to 10 points (the Berner sheet shows a Romain Garamond de Garamond), and in Italy too this body was known as Garamone, with a diminutive Garamoncino for the size below. This example is from the specimen book of the printer Georg Fuhrmann, Nürnberg, 1616:
After the death of the punchcutter in 1561, Christophe Plantin had acquired a few of his punches and some matrices for his types for his own printing-office in Antwerp, where they were mostly recorded in his inventories (such as this one, in the hand of Hendrik van den Keere, who gives own his name here in French as Henry du Tour) as the work of ‘Garramond’.
Shortly after Plantin’s death his heirs received offers of matrices from the typefounder Guillaume II Le Bé in Paris, which used the form of the name that would become more widely accepted. His father, who had died shortly before, had been associated in his trade with the punchutter and had acquired the larger part of his stock of punches and matrices. Guillaume II added notes to some of the samples of printing that he sent:
Here he writes ‘Lettre ditte en France Gros Romain taille de Claude Garamond’ (Type called Gros Romain in France, cut by Claude Garamond), and this is the spelling that his father had used. On a specimen of a Hebrew type the elder Guillaume Le Bé wrote that he had made it in Paris in 1551 for ‘Claude Garamond’, who cut the King’s Greek types, in his house in the rue des Carmes: ‘Lan 1551 en ceste ville de Paris Jay taille ceste lettre 9.e Pour le Sr Claude Garamond taill[eu]r & graveur des lettres Grecques du Roy’:
‘Garamond’ was the form of the name that was used by his foundry for a good two centuries after the punchcutter’s death while the types were still being cast for use by printers. The Le Bé foundry passed through the hands of a third Guillaume Le Bé, who died in 1685, and then those of his widow and her daughters, until in 1730 it was sold to the son of her manager, who had been Jean-Claude Fournier. The inventory of the foundry that was drawn up for the sale appears to have been extracted from a more detailed original written by Guillaume II Le Bé that does not survive, made in the early seventeenth century. Here is an image of a small part, showing that it possessed the punches for roman types by ‘Garamond’, as well as others by the elder Le Bé (‘mon père’), Robert Granjon and Jacques de Sanlecque.
(For details of the transcription of this document published in 1957 see below.)
Jean-Pierre Fournier, Fournier l’aîné (1706–83), the elder son of Jean-Claude, made much of his possession of this material in a public correspondence in the Journal des Sçavans in 1756 with an anonymous writer who was in fact his own younger brother. ‘I own the foundry of Garamond, the Le Bé family and Granjon. I shall be happy to display my punches and matrices. These are the types that made the reputations of the Estiennes, Plantin and the Elzevirs.’
The spelling ‘Garamond’, having been used by the Le Bé establishment, set the model for most succeeding writers. Not only Fournier l’aîné but also his younger brother, Fournier le jeune, made use of the archival material that had been acquired with the foundry. Much of it has now vanished, but one document, a biographical note on the French makers of types, which is now known as the ‘Le Bé Memorandum’, begun by Guillaume II Le Bé and with some later additions, would serve the younger Fournier in preparing the historical notes that he added to the preface to the specimen of his own foundry in 1742 and in the second volume of his Manuel typographique, 1766. The text of this document, which is presumably still in the hands of descendents of the Fournier family, was published in 1967 in a reliable transcription with notes by Harry Carter. Here is the beginning of the entry for Garamond:
The Didot family, who would replace his roman type, then still in current use, with their own, nonetheless paid homage to his skills and reputation, and they adopted the same version of the name: Garamond d’Elzévir a cimenté la gloire – that is, ‘Garamond conferred lasting fame on the Elzevirs’, wrote Pierre Didot, in his ‘Epistle on the progress of printing’ (1784), echoing the words of Fournier l’aîné, and uttering a sentiment that would be rudely and ignorantly challenged by a writer with Dutch sympathies some years later.
His brother Firmin Didot made a claim regarding the source of Garamond’s design that would have its echoes in the 20th century when Stanley Morison announced that he had made the same discovery. In a lengthy footnote to an edition of the Bucolics of Virgil published in 1806 (one that, as the imprint claims, he had edited, translated into French and printed with types he had cut himself), he drew attention to a type that he says had been used in a little-known book printed by Aldus, Pietro Bembo’s De Aetna. This type, he claims, had been the model for Garamond, who in his types which were so familiar in the printing of the Estiennes and the Elzevirs, ‘had only to copy this type cut by Francesco da Bologna’ (whose surname, Griffo, had yet to be discovered) ‘to get all the honour for it.’
A later and in some ways equally surprising claim by Firmin Didot regarding Garamond relates to the one set of printing types for which he was known to historians: the grecs du roi, the three sizes of greek made with royal authority for the use of Robert Estienne, printer to the king, for which we now know that a formal order was made out to ‘Claude Garamon, tailleur et fondeur de lettres’ in 1540. The emigration of Robert Estienne to Geneva, with the matrices for the grecs du roi, and some said all the types and the punches too, taking himself out of reach of reproach or worse for his religious views, was a controversial matter, and one that was repeatedly discussed by historical writers. The punches had in fact simply been deposited in a safe place and forgotten. In an essay on Robert Estienne that he published with his Poésies (1834), Firmin Didot, an unconditional supporter of Estienne, argued for his rights to the materials, and made a charge against Garamond of which there seems to be no trace in any other literature: ‘Garamond had no foundry of his own, being only a punchcutter though doubtless a very skilled one, but his reputation as a drinker is still recalled among typefounders. He was always in need of money, and turned to the printer for an advance.’
Without referring to this issue, G. A. Crapelet, a professional printer with bibliographical interests, entered the debate in his Études pratiques et littéraires sur la typographie (1837) on behalf of the punchcutter he called ‘Garamont’. Although there had been some intermittent earlier appearances of this spelling (Joseph de Guignes has a single example in a heading, ‘Caractères Grecs de François I.er appelés Grecs du Roi, gravés par Garamont’, in his Essai historique sur la typographie orientale et grecque de l'Imprimerie Royale, 1787. This appears to be its first consistent use in a serious historical study, based perhaps – as later usage would be – on a preference for the form of the name in the imprints of 1545 over that which had for so long been familiar to printers and typefounders.
The foundry of Fournier l’aîné, with all its materials of the Le Bé foundry, had sunk without trace during the Revolutionary period, no doubt as a consequence of the radical changes in the forms of printing types that coincided with it: printers no longer wanted the old types. (A substantial part of the major surviving collection of the old punches and matrices of the Low Countries, which were in the hands of the Enschedé office in Haarlem, was sold as scrap metal at about the same time.)
The name of Garamond (or Garamont), had now become of interest chiefly to the historians who had been aware of the Greek types, and who would also become concerned with the romans and italics.
The Imprimerie nationale had continued to maintain a typefoundry at which it made a succession of new roman and italic types, including a series cut by Firmin Didot for the Emperor in 1811, designed to replace the romain du roi of Grandjean, some new types either imported from England or modelled on them after the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, and then a new design commissioned from Marcellin-Legrand that seemed more acceptable for use in the modern national printing-office.
The modern types, non-Latin and ‘French’, were displayed in a spectacular type specimen issued in 1845. It includes on pages 45 to 49 a brief historical note on the printing-office and a two-page table on pages 48 and 49 with the heading ‘Spécimen des caractères romains employés par l’Imprimerie royale, de 1640 à 1846’, showing alphabets of some of the roman and italic types used there from the date of its founding in 1640 to 1825. The first column of the table shows ‘types attributed to Garamont’.
A longer note reads, ‘The existence of these types, which were known by the name of caractères de l’Université (types of the university), goes back to the early years of the 16th century. This date  is that of the establishment of the Royal Printing-office, which used them until they could be replaced by the types of Louis XIV [that is, the romain du roi of the 1690s].’
The specimen of 1845 appears to be the first published showing of the types that would become Arthur Christian’s ‘Garamond’. It is also the first to give an attribution to Garamont and the first published use of the term caractères de l’Université, although impressions of the types identified with this name (but not mentioning that of Garamont) had been included in the first volume of a complete inventory of the punches and matrices, with the printed title Recueil des empreintes des poinçons et des matrices des caractères français et exotiques ... existans à l'Imprimerie royale, dressé par les ordres et sous la direction de M. le Baron de Villebois, dated 1828, and on which they are designated ‘not in current use’ (hors de service). An exact note of the number of the matrices of the three sizes of the Caractères de l'Université and a valuation was also included in a manuscript ‘Inventaire du matériel de l'Imprimerie royale au 31 decembre 1838’, where they are similarly marked ‘not in use’.
The text and the showing of the roman and italic types from the specimen of 1845 was reprinted not long afterwards in a Notice sur les types étrangers du spécimen de l’Imprimerie royale, 1847. A reduced and truncated image of this table, from which the heading and the side notes were removed, appears as fig. 327 in the second volume of Updike’s Printing types. In 1848, F. A. Duprat, the head of the typefoundry, wrote a little book on the state printing-office, which as a result of the revolution had become the ‘Imprimerie nationale’ and in the same year, 1848, Auguste Bernard, a corrector at the Imprimerie nationale, also published a brief note on the establishment, in which he mentions the grecs du roi, ‘cut by the celebrated Garamont’ and indicates that he is preparing a history of the printing-office. His Histoire de l’Imprimerie royale du Louvre (its history until 1789, that is), would be published in 1867. Duprat too wrote its history, on a more comprehensive scale: his Histoire de l’Imprimerie impériale de France was published in 1861.
Both authors, like Crapelet in 1837, had used the form ‘Garamont’ in 1848. But each of them reverted to ‘Garamond’ in their historical studies of 1861 and 1867. Duprat, indeed, reprinted a revised version of his table of the roman and italic types, changing the spelling of the name to ‘Garamond’ and making their date ‘1540’.
‘The roman types that this establishment made use of, and which it continued to employ until the first years of the 18th century, were not its special property’ wrote Duprat in his history of 1861. ‘Cut by Garamond in the reign of François I, who as a typefounder sold them to printers, these types showed a certain imperfection, which they would not lose until the Arts, like Letters and the Sciences, were transformed by the lively and beneficent influence of the “great century” of Louis XIV.’ (A reference to the making of the romain du roi in the 1690s.)
Bernard, was slightly more cautious in his narrative: ‘The first types that were used at the Imprimerie royale, and of which the matrices are preserved, are attributed to Garamond, the celebrated punchcutter of the 16th century to whom we owe the greek types of François I. They are known by the name of caractères de l’Université. They are very elegant.’
It should be said at this point that this statement is evidence of the writer’s ignorance of printing types: the works printed at the Imprimerie royale were indeed normally set in the types produced by contemporary typefounders in Paris, some of which were by Garamond and others by Robert Granjon and the elder Le Bé, and that these continued in use for the rest of the century, types like the Gros Canon of Garamont seen here in the Imitatio Christi of 1640. This appears in the type specimen of the Imprimerie royale made in 1643. It could be supplied, cast from original matrices, by the Le Bé foundry, and and perhaps it was.
Fournier l’aîné, having become owner of the Le Bé materials in the 18th century, was well aware that the Imprimerie royale got its types from contemporary founders. This was his summary in the Journal des sçavans for October 1756: ‘Depuis Cramoisi, premier Directeur de cet Imprimerie jusqu’à M. Rigault [director from 1707 to 1725], on n’employa point d’autres caractéres que ceux qui étoient en usage dans l’Université; on les faisoit faire par les fondeurs ordinaires & au même prix que les autres Imprimeurs. S’il arrivoit qu’on fournît les matrices qui appartenoient au Roy, le Fondeur en donnoit son recipissé. C’étaient ordinairement les Fonderies des Sanlecque, le Bé, & Cot, qui avoient cette pratique.’
The matrices to which Bernard refers were of course those of the only old matrices for roman and italic types that were in the possession of the Imprimerie royale, the caractères de l'Université (is the passage by Fournier l’aîné of 1756 with its reference to the [caractères] ‘qui étoient en usage dans l’Université’ an allusion to this term?), about which Beatrice Warde wrote under the name Paul Beaujon in her piece in The Fleuron in 1926.
Warde’s identification of the source of this material, long before the dated documents relating to their purchase came to light, is one of the most celebrated of all pieces of typographical detective work. Having the name of a known printer and punchcutter – Jean Jannon – to which to link the matrices helps to offer a possible explanation for a number of things. His connection with the Academy in Sedan may be the origin of the term caractères de l'Université. It would be petty to deny her the credit for this discovery, although there are some parts of her own narrative of the process that are still puzzling. For example, she never indicated how she knew of the existence of the specimen of Jean Jannon dated 1621, to examine which she says she impulsively took the night train to Paris (see her text at the end of this post); nor did she say in The Fleuron where the original specimen could be found: the only known copy is in the Bibliothèque Mazarine, Paris, where it has the cote A.15226(2). Perhaps help came from the printer Marius Audin, Lyon, who was compiling the catalogue of French type specimens of which the publication was eventually made possible with the help of Morison in 1933. (Audin would later publicize her discovery, one that for some years was hardly known or acknowledged in France.)
For the record, one thousand livres tournois were paid to Jannon for ‘six frappes de matrices assavoir gros et petits canons, gros parangons et leurs italiques avec trois moules pour fondre les caracteres desdits six frappes’. In other words, six sets of matrices for gros canon, petit canon and gros parangon, roman and italic (they would later be cast on bodies of 36, 24 and 18 points), together with three moulds. The contract dated 1 March 1641 between Jean Jannon and Sébastien Cramoisy, director of the Imprimerie royale, a detail from which is shown below, is in the Archives nationales, Paris (Étude XLIII, liasse 32).
The record of this purchase became known in the 1950s and a summary of it was published for the first time in the catalogue of the exhibition held in 1951 at the Bibliothèque nationale, L’art du livre à l’Imprimerie nationale. It is worth noting, since nobody seems to have remarked on the fact, that the matrices are struck ‘upside down’, like a few sets of English matrices of the later 17th century, with the tails of the letters facing the upper end of the matrix.
The purchase of 1641 was clearly in the mind of Henri-Jean Martin when he wrote the note on Jannon that appears in his text of 1969:
‘Cet homme était le digne émule des artistes et des techniciens de la typographie du siècle précédent. On pourrait peut-être voir la consécration de ses efforts dans le fait qu’on fondit sur des matrices portant l’empreinte des ses types et par lui vendues à l’Imprimerie royale, les caractères utilisés pour les plus luxueux ouvrages publiés par cet établissement à ses débuts.’ Livre, pouvoirs et société à Paris au XVIIe siècle, p. 367.
This elegantly phrased tribute, suggesting that the Jannon types served to print the finest of the early productions of the Imprimerie royale, makes it only too clear that Martin did not look closely at the works that were produced there. (The study of printing types was not one of his specialities.) Only two of the six types by Jannon for which matrices were acquired appear ever to have been used there: those for the italics for Petit Canon and for Gros Parangon, which are the two types by Jannon that are shown in the type specimen of the Imprimerie royale dated 1643 that was reproduced in facsimile with notes by Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer and André Jammes (for details see below). An italic was needed for the Petit Canon roman by Robert Granjon that was in frequent use: for an example see Updike’s fig. 172 in his Printing types. None of Jannon’s roman types seems to have been used, and neither the roman nor the italic of Jannon’s type for the larger body, Gros Canon (the modern 36 point), has been found in use at all at the Imprimerie royale. Use was consistently made of the equivalent size of Garamond’s roman and especially of the Gros Canon italic of Granjon, which appears in the preliminary matter of books printed at the Imprimerie royale until the new types cut by Grandjean and his successors began to be made at the end of the century.
This apparent lack of enthusiasm for the Jannon types is presumably the reason why, when an inventory of materials at the Imprimerie royale was drawn up in 1691 (BnF MS nouv. acq. fr. 2511) after the death of Mabre-Cramoisy, only the two smaller Jannon italics were shown in the specimens bearing the date 1690 that were included in the document:
The matrices for the three sizes of roman types were listed in the inventory of 1691 as being kept in drawers (layettes) but there is no suggestion that type had been cast from them, nor from either the roman or the italic of the Gros Canon.
Without being ungenerous, since Warde’s essay clearly represents the result of some serious research of her own (albeit with much well-informed help from Stanley Morison and Frederic Warde, in whose company she spent some time in France during 1924 and 1925, and perhaps also from Marius Audin), one should note that it is in need of critical attention. She usefully examined many works printed in Paris in types that were candidates for those cut by Garamont, but rather oddly she shows little concern with the types that were attributed to ‘Garamond’ on the specimen sheet of Conrad Berner in Frankfurt am Main (which she calls by the name of the previous owner of the foundry, Egenolff), even though they match several that appear in Plantin’s own specimen of 1567, of which a facsimile had been published in 1924, and were thus prime candidates for material with which to build a reliable picture of the punchcutter’s achievement.
In some ways Jannon is made to serve as a distraction from these elements of potential confusion. Warde’s long account of the seizure of some materials of his in Caen in 1644, imaginatively worked up from the Gallia typographica of Lepreux, is high romantic nonsense with echoes of Alexandre Dumas, which the contract relating to their purchase by Cramoisy in 1641 would later show to have had nothing at all to do with the acquisition of the surviving matrices. But there is a more serious flaw in her text.
Early in her study, Warde has this note: ‘We owe our present knowledge of Garamont to a succession of French scholars, the brothers Fournier, Auguste Bernard, Henri Omont, and Jean Paillard. The latter succeeded in ranging all the documents then known and some new material in a small privately printed book of admirable scholarship.’
Although Warde’s title is ‘The “Garamond” types’, she gives the name of the punchcutter throughout the essay as ‘Claude Garamont’, a new orthography for an anglophone writer that that she may have derived from Paillard. Her tribute to him is generously expressed, and rightly so since his was the only published text that had set out the sources for the biography of Garamont. But it is difficult to acquit her of disingenuousness in one respect. The thesis that she asserted, or that others would make on her behalf, and on which a part of her article is based, was that the claim regarding the 16th-century origin of the ‘Garamond’ types at the Imprimerie nationale had hitherto been unchallenged.
Many years later she recalled that Bullen, for a time her employer at ATF, had expressed private doubts to her that they were really types of the 16th century. When she published her essay such doubts had already been expressed in print, as she must have been well aware; one can wish that she had been more frank about this to her readers. This is the comment that Harry Carter added to the note on the Monotype Garamond type that he supplied for the edition of Stanley Morison’s Tally of Types that was published in 1973:
‘The article by Beaujon owed a good deal to [the text] by Jean Paillard ... published in 1914 by the Parisian typefounder Ollière. Paillard was the first to challenge the attribution of the Caractères de l’Université to Garamond. His essay has not been given the recognition that it deserved.’
In reverting to the spelling ‘Garamont’, it seems likely that Paillard was drawing on the imprints of 1545 and some of the documents with which he was familiar. The restoration of the name ‘Claude Garamont’ may well be due to his example.
Paillard’s essay was set in types that had been made in 1913 following his advice, making use of photographs taken under his direction from 16th-century works at the Bibliothèque nationale. The punches were cut by Plumet, Vuarant and Malin.
The date of publication makes it all too easy to guess why the little book failed to attract attention and why it is so rare. Within days of the outbreak of war in August, Paillard was under arms and at the front. He died on 24 September 1914 near Verdun. We know this from a handwritten note that his brother Etienne inscribed in the copy of the book that, since one had not reached them, he presented to the Bibliothèque nationale in 1947. It adds that Jean Paillard had wished to provide the results of his researches relating to the types of Garamont to Christian, the director of the Imprimerie nationale. ‘Monsieur Christian refused to see him, believing that no one had anything to teach him about Garamont. This is the incident that led to the printing of this little book.’
Notwithstanding Christian’s own certainties, Claudin’s preface to his monumental Histoire de l’imprimerie en France au XVe et au XVIe siècle (1900), the only part of the text to be set in the ‘Garamond’ types since the title page and text are in those of Grandjean, does not endorse the attribution with anything like ringing assurance: ‘The overall characteristics of these types’, he says (if they are the words of Claudin – Paillard clearly thought so but Marius Audin thought they must be Christian’s, and it is not easy to be sure), ‘do not differ much from those of the founts designed by Garamond in the reign of François I’:
This cautious tone did not escape Paillard, as can be seen in this opening from his book, in which the mocking scepticism with which he regarded the authenticity of Christian’s cherished types is well shown:
There is not a lot more to add to this survey. The spelling adopted by the Le Bé foundry had no doubt provided the original model for writing ‘Garamond’. It was followed by nearly all the French typographical historians – the Fourniers, the Didots, Renouard, Omont, and (apostates after their initial purist use of ‘Garamont’) Duprat and Bernard. It was thus naturally adopted by Christian at the Imprimerie nationale. It has also been the choice, among more modern writers, of Henri-Jean Martin and of André Jammes, and of all the ‘Anglo-Americans’ – Updike, Morison, Johnson, Carter and their followers. Almost all the makers of the new types, from ATF, and English Monotype (who based theirs on the types of the Imprimerie nationale), and Stempel (modelled on those of the Berner sheet), followed the convention and called the types ‘Garamond’, the traditional name that was carried on into the later 20th century, in their different ways, by other makers, including the International Typeface Corporation, Simoncini and Adobe.
The chief exception outside France was Frederic Goudy who, having joined the Lanston Monotype Company in Philadelphia in 1920, drew his own version of the Garamond types of the Imprimerie nationale for them, a sympathetic rendering of the qualities of the original. ‘I suggested the name “Garamont” instead of “Garamond”,’ he wrote in 1946, ‘as that name would show at once that it was a Monotype face, not to be confused with the faces of other concerns also following the same source. The name was found by me in Notice sur les Types Etrangers du Specimen de l’Imprimerie Royale.’ As we have seen, this work included a table giving a character set of the Jannon type, including its swash italic capitals. D. B. Updike included a reduced facsimile of the table in his Printing types (1922), fig. 327, omitting a column of notes on the right.
In France, usage began to shift more seriously after the First World War. In 1912, working with the punchcutter Henri Parmentier, Georges Peignot had begun to make a ‘Garamond’ (so named, apparently – but more information is needed) for his Peignot foundry. In its final form, for which many years of study were claimed, it is at least partly based on the types of the Imprimerie nationale, from which it derived the characteristic italic swash capitals. The typeface was only completed and placed on the market by the merged foundries of Deberny et Peignot in 1926, when it was called ‘Garamont’, perhaps at the suggestion of the historian Marius Audin, who consistently used this form in his own work. The flourish of rhetoric with which it was launched, in the year when Warde’s essay was published, does not really bear translating:
‘Après de longues années d’études et de mise au point, la réalisation du “caractère d’après Garamont” qui fut commencé sur l’initiative de Georges Peignot est aujourd’hui complètement terminée. Nous avons conscience d’avoir ainsi doté la typographie française d’un moyen d’expression bien à elle, et qui faisait défaut jusqu’à présent dans la gamme de nos créations nationales.’
Was Audin’s usage of ‘Garamont’, like Warde’s, possibly influenced by that of Paillard’s publication? (Morison, who had acquired a copy of Paillard’s book in Paris in December 1924 later presented it to Audin, with a dedicatory inscription. It was bought recently by the Musée de l'imprimerie, Lyon.)
In a note in the exhibition catalogue of 1951 mentioned above, L’art du livre à l’Imprimerie nationale, in which the purchase of the Jannon matrices in 1641 is documented for the first time, Julien Cain, the director of the Bibliothèque nationale, refers to the ‘Grecs du Roi gravés par Garamond’. But the preliminary essay by Raymond Blanchot, the director of the Imprimerie nationale, having mentioned ‘le célèbre graveur Garamont’ (so spelt) as the cutter of the grecs du roi, makes no reference at all to the recast roman and italic types, notwithstanding their use in some of the more prominent examples of fine printing by the Imprimerie nationale, nor are the types referred to in the catalogue itself. Some rethinking had clearly taken place.
In its specimen of 1948, Le cabinet des poinçons, mostly of the non-Latin types, the Imprimerie nationale had shown its ‘Garamond’ roman and italic:
But the edition of 1963, of which the preface, by Daniel Gibelin, pays a fulsome but generalised tribute to the genius of Claude Garamont, notes that his materials were ‘dispersed’ after his death, and does not show the Jannon roman and italic, which is now demoted to the status of an ‘imitation’ in a brief note that is set, oddly enough, wholly in the Grandjean type:
The reference published in 1951 to the documents relating to the purchase from Jannon in 1641 of the matrices for the three sizes of the types at the Imprimerie nationale confirmed the flash of recognition that had made Warde’s essay celebrated, though at the same time it demolished her fantastic account of the acquisition of the materials by confiscation. In some ways it was timely, since a new epoch in historical type studies, based on materials and documents, can now be seen to have begun in 1954 with the work at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp of the team that included Harry Carter and Hendrik Vervliet on the surviving materials assembled by Christophe Plantin. A good summary of what that meant, and would mean for future typographical studies, was put into words by Matthew Carter:
‘This astonishing discovery: that the finest collection of printing types made in typography’s golden age was in perfect condition (some muddle apart), was made even more valuable by the survival under the same roof of Plantin’s accounts and inventories which name the cutters of his types. The job of matching the materials to the documents took about five years, and the results, which have been published, have had considerable impact upon typographical scholarship, on bibliography, and on the aesthetic appreciation of type design of that period. It is now possible to study a sufficient corpus of confidently attributed work by half a dozen sixteenth-century cutters to get an idea of the quantity of their output, and a proper sense of their individual styles as designers. The first result of such an assessment must be, I am sure, to confirm the stature of Garamond, but to see him no longer as a solitary eminence but rather as a first among equals. Of other cutters well represented at the Museum, two were Flemish, François Guyot and Hendrik van den Keere, the latter employed extensively by Plantin; and three were French, Guillaume Le Bé, specialist in Hebrew types; Pierre Haultin, a fine and still underrated artist, a red-hot Calvinist and the most considerable printer among sixteenth-century punchcutters; and Robert Granjon.’ (Matthew Carter, ‘Galliard: a modern revival of the types of Robert Granjon’, Visible language, vol. 19, no. 1 (1985), pp. 77–97.)
One of the chief actors in this long process has been Hendrik Vervliet, whose work, written during decades in the intervals of a demanding professional career in librarianship, was made more widely accessible by the publication in 2008 of many of his essays (including two major contributions on Garamont) that had been scattered among several different journals, and in 2010 of his French Renaissance printing types, a conspectus, a comprehensive illustrated summary of the non-gothic types made in France in the 16th century. (For details see below.)
For Vervliet, the form of the name has always been Garamont. He was one of the group of editors of the series of Type specimen facsimiles, reproductions of broadside specimens (including the Berner sheet of 1592) published under the general editorship of John Dreyfus in 1963, in which this form of the name is consistently given. But ambiguities persisted: in his essay on ‘The Garamond types of Christopher Plantin’ (Journal of the Printing Historical Society, No. 1, 1965, pp. 14–20) Vervliet noted that ‘a distinction is made between Garamont, the punchcutter, and “Garamond” types’, and in his Conspectus there is a suggestion that the spelling ‘Garamond’ is acceptable as a generic term for imitations of the style.
That there is a need for such a generic term is not immediately evident, and indeed it has become all the less necessary as a new generation of scholars in France, who are familiar with the known contemporary records and who have discovered others, have come to refer naturally to ‘Garamont’. In 1974 Annie Parent and Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer brought together contemporary contracts relating to the making of his types from the Archives nationales. In two of them he is ‘Claude Garamon’; in one he is ‘Claude Garamond’; in the other eleven he is ‘Claude Garamont’. And in 1997 Geneviève Guilleminot-Chrétien published the text of the will of Claude Garamont, drawn up shortly before his death in 1561, just four hundred and fifty years ago. Certain details of its wording point to the likelihood that he had adopted the ‘reformed’ or protestant religion.
The spelling ‘Garamond’ of the commercial fonts will inevitably continue to exercise its influence for some time to come: it can be seen at work in the title of the novel by Anne Cuneo, Le maître de Garamond: Antoine Augereau, graveur, imprimeur, éditeur, libraire, published in 2002. Some writers, among whom I include myself, may still be in two minds about giving up a long-established habit. However, it should be noted that although the beautifully produced brochure made by Adobe Systems in 2005 for a revised version of the digital font by Robert Slimbach names the typeface as Garamond Premier Pro, it includes an authoritative biographical study by John Lane of the punchcutter, Claude Garamont.
As I have noted elsewhere, this post, first made on 1 April 2011, has expanded steadily to include later material, and its initial concern with the spelling of the name of the punchcutter has been overhauled by a more general wish to explore the later reputation of the ‘Garamond’ type and the work of its historians, a task that I began to tackle many years ago at a ‘colloque Garamond’ at the Bibliothèque nationale in 1993, and which I developed in an essay of 2006 as I explain in my ‘Note’ below.
Since the middle of October 2011 a website dedicated to Garamont, created with the support of the ministry of culture in France, has come on stream. It is as full of good things as one would expect from the names of some of the talented figures who have cooperated in its making, and it has not only been willing to take some suggestions from the present post but has kindly added a link to it.
Jean Paillard, Claude Garamont, graveur et fondeur de lettres (Paris: Ollière, 1914).
Pierre Gusman, ‘Claude Garamont, “graveur des lettres grecques du roy”, “tailleur des caractères de l’Université” (1480–1561)’, Byblis (1925), pp. 85–96.
‘Paul Beaujon’ (Beatrice Warde) ‘The Garamond types: 16th and 17th century sources considered’, The Fleuron, 5, 1926, pp. 131–79.
Marius Audin, Le Garamont, dit à tort “caractère de l'Université” (Paris, 1931).
Hendrik Vervliet, The palaeotypography of the French Renaissance: selected papers on sixteenth-century typefaces (Boston, Leiden: Brill, 2008).
Hendrik Vervliet, French Renaissance printing types, a conspectus (London: Bibliographical Society and Printing Historical Society, 2010).
Marius Audin, Les livrets typographiques des fonderies françaises créées avant 1800: étude historique et bibliographique (Paris, 1933).
Annie Parent, ‘Les Grecs du roi et l’étude du monde antique’, in L’art du livre à l’Imprimerie nationale (Paris, 1973). pp. 55–67.
Annie Parent and Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer,‘Claude Garamont: new documents’, The Library, 5th series, vol. 29 (1974), pp. 80–92.
Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer, ‘La petite italique de Garamont’, in Défense et illustration de la typographie française, Actes du Colloque Claude Garamond, tenu par les Rencontres de Lure à la Bibliothèque nationale [les 30, 31 octobre et 1er novembre 1993]. Rencontres Internationales de Lure, 1996.
Geneviève Guilleminot-Chrétien, ‘Le testament de Claude Garamont’, in Le livre et l’historien: études offertes en l’honneur du Professeur Henri-Jean Martin, réunies par Frédéric Barbier [et al.] (Genève: Droz, 1997), pp. 133–9.
The document in the hand of Guillaume I Le Bé cited and illustrated above is Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS. nouv. acq. fr. 4528, as shown in H. Omont, Spécimens de caractères hébreux, grecs, latins et de musique gravés à Venise et à Paris par Guillaume Le Bé (1545-1572) (Paris, 1889), reprinted from Mémoires de la Société de l’Histoire de Paris et de l’Île de France, vol. 15 (1888), pp. 273-83.
L’inventaire de la fonderie Le Bé, selon la transcription de Jean Pierre Fournier (Paris: Imprimé à petit nombre pour André Jammes, 1957). Documents typographiques français, I. Foreword by Stanley Morison. This is a transcription of the abbreviated inventory included in the sale document of the foundry, 1730, Archives nationales, Paris, Minutier central des Notaires, Étude lxv, liasse 229. Note the cote or call number. It is given wrongly in this printed transcription, and it is wrong in all the many references that are derived from this source.
Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer and André Jammes, Les premiers caractères de l’Imprimerie royale: étude sur un spécimen inconnu de 1643 (Paris, 1958). Documents typographiques français, II.
Sixteenth century French typefounders: the Le Bé memorandum, edited by Harry Carter (Paris, 1967). Documents typographiques français, III.
Linda Ritson, ‘Arthur Christian, Director of the Imprimerie nationale 1895–1906’, Signature, new series, 9 (1949), pp. 3–28.
Lothar Wolf, Terminologische Untersuchungen zur Einführung des Buchdrucks im französischen Sprachgebiet (Tübingen, 1979).
Sources for Jannon
Since its appearance in April 2011 I have used this post as a place for notes on all kinds of matters relating to Garamont, so it seems logical to use it to add some sources for Jannon and the caractères de l’Université. I have placed a note above on the results of the survey I have made of printing by the Imprimerie royale after the purchase of sets of matrices for three sizes of roman and italic from Jannon in 1641: I conclude that only the two smaller Jannon italics were used. I have found no examples of the use of their romans, and none at all during the 17th century of the roman or italic of the larger size, the Gros Canon that was later cast on a 36-point body. These settings, from the Imprimerie nationale specimen of 1904, appear to be among the very first appearances of all three sizes of the Jannon roman types. Smaller sizes, some of which are shown in the specimen, were being added.
The standard biographical source for Jannon is the small pamphlet by J. B. Brincourt, Jean Jannon, ses fils, leurs œuvres (Sedan, 1887), of which a second edition with a list of works printed at his press was issued in Sedan in 1902, titles that are not easy to find in libraries. There is supplementary matter in articles with the same title in Revue d’Ardenne & d’Argonne, nos. 9 (1902), 10 (1903). In her article in The Fleuron, Warde gave a summary of the episode at Caen in 1646 relating to Jannon and Pierre de Cardonnel and the seizure of some materials, as recorded by Georges Lepreux in his Gallia typographica (Tome III, ‘Normandie’, 1912). I have referred to this above, noting that it can have nothing to do with the well-documented purchase in 1641 of the matrices of the type that became known as the caractères de l’Université.
In 1987 Hugh Williamson began publication of his own study, ‘Jean Jannon of Sedan’, dealing mostly with works printed at Jannon’s printing-office, in the Bulletin of the Printing Historical Society, 21 (May 1987), pp. 270–6; 22 (Sep 1987) pp. 286–94; 23 (Spring 1988), pp. 304–10; 24 (Summer 1988), pp. 318–25.
In 1992 a publication of 214 pages was issued in Sedan to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the attachment of the city to France, 1642-1992: 350ème anniversaire du rattachement de la principauté de Sedan à la France. Société d’histoire et d’archéologie du Sedanais, [Sedan, 1992]. It included reproductions of works printed by Jannon from copies at the municipal library at Sedan, and of some pages from his specimen of 1621. There were also some images of his matrices and an account of Jannon by Paul-Marie Grinevald (former librarian of the Imprimerie nationale) on pages 127 to 130.
This piece began as an expansion of a single footnote relating to the spelling of the name in a study that was published as, ‘Garamond, Griffo and others: the price of celebrity’, in the journal Bibliologia (Pisa: Istituti editoriali e poligrafici internazionali), 1 (2006), pp. 17–41. Perhaps I should add that this piece was derived from an address that I contributed to the Colloque Garamond at the Bibliothèque nationale in 1993, at which Madame Veyrin-Forrer delivered the account of the ‘petite italique’, noted above, that was included in 1996 among its published papers. Mine was not, but having been reworked appeared in the publication of 2006 and it is now being revised again for possible republication. As part of this process it seemed to be worth enquiring a little more fully into the history of the form of the familiar name.
The story has already become longer and more involved than I expected, all the more so as I have incorporated the results of some recent investigations into it, including my enquiry into the use of the Jannon types at the Imprimerie royale during the later 17th century, from which – as noted in the ‘Sources for Jannon’ just above – I conclude (but I am open to correction) that only the italics of the two smaller sizes were ever used at that date.
I am grateful for their assistance towards the making of this additional note to Sébastien Morlighem, André Jammes, John Lane, Paul-Marie Grinevald, Mathieu Christe, Michel Wlassikoff, and to members of the staff of the Atelier du Livre d’Art et de l’Estampe of the Imprimerie nationale, Ivry sur Seine.
Jean Paillard’s little book is rare. I know of only five copies in libraries: three in France, one in the United States and one in Great Britain. But its text was republished, with the cover title ‘Qui étiez-vous Monsieur Garamont?’, by Ofmi Garamont, La Courneuve, in 1969. The punches of the Ollière type were offered for sale by the Librairie Paul Jammes in Typographia Regia, its catalogue 167 of 1957. I understand that they were bought by the designer Raymond Gid. His widow has passed them to Jean-Louis Estève, who now has their care. They have recently been expertly restored by Christian Paput, former punchcutter at the Cabinet des Poinçons of the Imprimerie nationale.
Beatrice Warde on the Jannon type
“Under the guise of Paul Beaujon I wrote an article on the Garamond types for The Fleuron. After the text had been set, proofed, and paged up, I went one afternoon to the North Library in the British Museum to check on a date. I was going through the Bagford collection of title pages when suddenly I came across a page printed by Jean Jannon of Sedan; there staring me in the face was the type I had been searching for—no possibility of a doubt.
I took the rest of the afternoon off, looked up references for Jannon, took the night boat to Paris and turned up the next morning on the doorstep of the Mazarine Library. There in the unique copy of Jannon’s specimen book I was able to solve the whole mystery. Jannon, cut off from the use of the Egenolff foundry by the religious wars, had learnt to cut type for himself. In an incredibly short time he had produced a whole series of types at Sedan.
Of course this meant entirely rewriting the article for The Fleuron, but Stanley Morison never begrudged the additional expense or trouble. Heaven knows what it cost to reset the article, but it was done in the nick of time...”
‘I am a communicator’: a selection of writings and talks by Beatrice Warde / Paul Beaujon, The Monotype Recorder, vol. 44, no. 1 (Autumn 1970), p. 7. (From an interview with John Dreyfus recorded in about 1966. Published by him in ‘Beatrice Warde: the first lady of typography’, Penrose Annual, no. 63, 1970, pp. 66–76.)
Warde says that she looked up ‘references for Jannon’. What, one wonders, can these have been? There were very few published texts at this date that mentioned the Jannon specimen and none of them seems to have said where a copy could be seen. Marius Audin would publish the information not long afterwards in his list of French type specimens, and he would be one of the few champions in France of her conclusions regarding the ‘Garamond’ type. He may have told her about the specimen and how to find it, but her text in The Fleuron does not mention his name, nor (even though she took such trouble to go and look at it) does it give the location of the specimen, which has the cote A.15226(2) at the Bibliothèque Mazarine, Paris. (In the notes that he added to the second edition of his Printing Types (1937), vol. 1, page 290, D. B. Updike said, quite wrongly, that the specimen of Jannon was ‘found by Mrs Beatrice Warde in the Collection Anisson in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris’.) It seems possible from her own account of the episode that she had not looked at it before.
Was this fragment in the Bagford Collection (British Library MS. Harl. 5922) one that caught her eye?
Last edited 7 January 2012