22 August 2011

On the life of Claude Garamond

Born in Paris, France in 1490, Garamond started his career out as an apprentice for the Parisian punch-cutter and printer, Antoine Augereau in 1510 . It was during this early part of the 16th century that Garamond and his peers found that the typography industry required unique multi-talented people. This way they could produce fine books. Many of the printers during that time period were able to master all or most of the artistic and technical skills of book production from type design to bookbinding. Claude Garamond was first to specialize in type design, punch cutting, and type-founding in Paris as a service to many famous publishers.

After a decade of success with his types all over Europe, King Francois I of France demanded that Garamond produce a Greek typeface, which later became known as "Grecs du Roi". The three fonts were modeled after the handwriting of Angelos Vergetios, and cut the largest size first, on a 16 point body. All three original sets of Royal Greek punches are preserved at the Imprimerie Nationale in Paris, France.

In 1545 Garamond became his own publisher, featuring his own types including a new italic. His first book published was Pia et religiosa Meditatio of David Chambellan. As publisher, Claude Garamond relied on his creativity harnessed by reasoned discipline to produce superbly well crafted products. He modeled his book publishing style after the classic works of the Venetian printers who catered to the absolute elites of high society. He admired and emulated the works of Aldus Manutius. Garamond insisted on clarity in design, generous page margins, quality composition, paper and printing , which was always accentuated with superb binding.

Because of the soundness of Garamond's designs his typefaces have historical staying power, and they are likely to remain the day-to-day tools of professional typographers, as long as wertern civilization survives. Reading a well set Garamond text page is almost effortless, a fact that has been well known to book designers for over 450 years.

Claude Garamond's contribution to typography was vast, a true renaissance man. Creating perfection in the type that he crafted his life will live on through his contribution to typography.


  1. You know I'm a fan of garamond, but I am not a fan of this post's length.

  2. Quit being such a Nancy-boy, Trud.

  3. Yeah, it is kind of long, but I thought pretty interesting. I also liked how the author misspelled the word "western" as "wertern" in the penultimate paragraph.

    No one reads this blog except us.

  4. I think there are some people in South Korea that read this blog as well.