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Indices : Typefaces : Garamond

Garamond is the original typographic naming disaster–a source of ongoing confusion. There are many types called “Garamond”, almost to the point where garamond has emerged as a category among serif text faces. What most of the Garamonds have in common is that they are more-or-less accurate revivals either of type cut by Claude Garamond in the late fifteenth century, or of type cut by Jean Jannon in the mid-16th century.

The basic story is this. A French punchcutter of the fifteenth century, Claude Garamond, was held in high esteem. In the early twentieth century the producers of matrices for machine setting were keen to revive or recut historical typefaces, and several versions of typefaces named for Garamond, and supposedly based on his typefaces, were produced: by ATF in 1918, by Lanston Monotype (drawn by Frederic Goudy) in 1921, and by English Monotype in 1922.

It turned out that the original of these types, then believed to be the work of Claude Garamond, were not: they were the work of a different French punchcutter, Jean Jannon. This was discovered and made public by Beatrice Warde in an article for The Fleuron in 1926. But by then the Garamond (or, as Goudy would have it, Garamont) name had stuck.

Meanwhile there were and are other revivals (of which the most well-known is Adobe Garamond, designed by Robert Slimbach (1989)) which are based on Claude Garamond’s type.

It is not hard, when the typefaces are seen side-by-side, to identify differences between the various Garamonds, and to perceive (broadly) two different “families”; but the similarities are quite striking too. Generally choice depends on aesthetic preference rather than historical correctness. These are usable typefaces with a slight air of conscious refinement that appeals to some and repels others.

Based on Garamond: Stempel Garamond, Adobe Garamond, Linotype Granjon, Sabon.

Based on Jannon: Monotype Garamond, Simoncini Garamond, ATF Garamond (Linotype Garamond 3), LTC Garamont, Storm Jannon Antiqua

Note that Jan Tschichold’s Sabon, though not called Garamond takes Garamond’s types as its starting point.

ITC Garamond is very much a creature of the 1970s (designed by Tony Stan). It is a type which tends to arouse strong feelings (not usually good ones). But even its supporters accept that this typeface, with its large x-height is a Garamond only in name.

Because of the profusion of garamond-like typefaces and the early confusion around its naming, it is common to see a typeface referred to as a garamond, the way we might categorize a typeface as a blackletter or a script.

In addition to Sabon, MvB Verdigris is another contemporary face that could be called a garamond.

Which Garamond? Typophiles Recommend:
Garamond Premiere Pro
Garamond Anyone?
…And Garamond is Great Why?
Garamond Is Not Garamond

Additional Articles:
Speak Up: Claude Garamond Promotes His Old Style Typefaces
f{y}ti: A Garamond by Any Other Name
LOST magazine: Claude Garamond