Granjon's Gros Cicero

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Steve Peter's picture
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Granjon's Gros Cicero
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Where can I find a good reproduction of Granjon's Gros Cicero? There's a paragraph in Nicolas Barker's biography of Stanley Morison, but I'd like something a bit bigger if at all possible.

Kent Lew's picture
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Joined: 21 Apr 2002 - 11:00am
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Steve -- I have a facsimile of some Plantin specimens that might have what you're looking for, but I don't recognize the Gros Cicero as a size.

Updike's list of sizes includes Gros Canon, Gros Parangon, Gros Romain, and Gros Texte, but no Gros Cicero. Could this be an error? Or is this designation unique to the particular oeuvre of Granjon?

-- K.

Steve Peter's picture
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I don't know if it's unique to Granjon, but Matthew Carter calls it Gros Cicero (cf. e.g. on p. 34 of Typographically Speaking) in his discussion of Galliard, and all the histories of Times New Roman call it thusly (cf. e.g. p. 197 of Letters of Credit).

Kent Lew's picture
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Okay, thanks for the additional references. I'll take a look through my Plantin facsimiles tomorrow and let you know if i come up with anything.

-- K.

Steve Peter's picture
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Kent — thank you!

Kent Lew's picture
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Well, I'm sorry, I couldn't identify any type matching this description in the facsimiles that I have. There was a reference in a note to a Gros Cicero by Granjon that Morison lists in his inventory of the Le Bé foundry, but it's not shown in the Le Bé–Moretus fragments that I have.

BTW, apparently the "gros" in this case seems to indicate a Cicero with a large x-height. Similar, I suppose, to the "gros oeil" designation that Fournier used a generation or so later.

-- Kent.

Steve Peter's picture
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Kent, do you have Barker's bio of Morison? If so, look on the tenth page of the photos section (sorry, the leaves are unnumbered here). That is identified as Gros Cicero.

Kent Lew's picture
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Sorry, no, I don't have Barker's Morison bio.

James Mosley's picture
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I hope this is helpful.

‘Gros Cicero’ is a name that has been given to one of Granjon’s types for which there are some matrices at the Plantin–Moretus Museum, but they were not acquired until quite some time after Plantin’s death, so it does not appear in books about him. One reason why it has become well known is that Pierpont, the Technical Director of the English Monotype Corporation, found it in a type specimen that was printed in 1905 from old types in the cases at the Plantin–Moretus Museum, and based Monotype Series 110, called Plantin, on it. In fact most of the letter a’s in this font are wrong-fount characters, and the italic is a later type that has nothing to do with Granjon. Nevertheless, Pierpont and his head of the type drawing office, Steltzer, between them made one of Monotype’s most accomplished typefaces on this worn and muddled fount, which was also used to set the introduction to the specimen.

So although this image from the 1905 specimen is not a brilliant one it may be the most useful one to offer it here, since it shows not only the wrong-fount a, which got into Monotype Plantin (and therefore into Times), and which by mischance is used here in Granjon’s name, but also the right one, which is seen with a grave accent in the first line and in ‘grande’ in the second.

The most up to date and reliable account of the type can now be read in the well-illustrated collected edition of Hendrik Vervliet’s essays on the types of the major French 16th-century punchcutters, which has just appeared under the title The palaeotypography of the French Renaissance (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008). An important book, and much recommended. But beware: it is very expensive.

Just to fill in the bare historical details, the type was used for nearly two hundred years in France, the Netherlands and Germany, where it has first been seen in use in in 1569. Its design is historically remarkable as one of the earliest types that have an unusually large ex-height and look larger than they are. (In fact, the fount at Antwerp has the name S. Augustin, which is a size larger than Cicero.) Matrices for the type were quite widely distributed, and it appears in the specimens of several different type foundries. Maybe the most useful reference, since there is a facsimile edition and the example is well printed from sharp, new type (with the correct letter a), is the specimen book of Lamesle, Paris, 1742, where it appears under the name of Cicero gros œil (‘Cicero with a big face’).

Steve Peter's picture
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Kent, you are correct in your supposition about "gros". According to Charles Bigelow in his review of Galliard in Fine Print on Type, "[the] Gros Cicero (c. 1568) had an x-height comparable to a Garamond St. Augustin (14°) on a Cicero (12°) body. In Rome (c. 1583) he cut a larger, similarly proportioned face on the St. Augustine body, which is named Giubilate in the Vatican type specimen of 1628."

Steve Peter's picture
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James, thank you very much! This is most useful.

John Hudson's picture
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Here is the gros cicero as illustrated in the new Vervliet book (vol.1, p.226): the type in use in Surius' Commentarius brevis rerum in orbe gestarum (Cologne, 1574), above, and as cast from matrices at the Plantin-Moretus Museum, below. The relationship of this design to Galliard is most obvious from the latter.

The Vervliet book is excellent and thoroughly recommended, even at that price.

Steve Peter's picture
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Thanks, John.

The Vervliet book is excellent and thoroughly recommended, even at that price.

I was afraid that might be the case.

John Hudson's picture
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It's worth it for the specimen of the extraordinary 'De Tournes' ten-line pica ascribed to Granjon: a type that looks at least a hundred years ahead of its time.

kris sowersby's picture
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Hi James,

So although this image from the 1905 specimen is not a brilliant one it may be the most useful one to offer it here, since it shows not only the wrong-fount a, which got into Monotype Plantin

Do you know which fount that particular a came from?

--K

John Hudson's picture
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According to Vervliet: ‘lowercase a replaced by an eighteenth-century sort, probably engraved by J.M. Smit.’

Dan Rhatigan's picture
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I've posted a couple of photos I took of a sample passage from the Index characterum on Flickr.

James Mosley's picture
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The consensus appears to be that not only the wrong-fount a in the cases at Antwerp but also the italic that Monotype adapted for their Plantin (which can be seen on that first page of the 1905 specimen) may be the work of Johann Michael Schmidt (died 1750), also known as J. M. Smit or Smid, a punchcutter who learned his trade in the Luther foundry in Frankfurt am Main, worked in the Netherlands and spent a few years in the 1730s with the newly-revived foundry of the Moretus (formerly Plantin) printing house in Antwerp, before going off to Sweden and finishing up in Berlin.

Here is a close-up of the Gros Cicero as it appears in the specimen of Claude Lamesle, Paris, 1742. This is not a common book, but there are copies to be found in a number of libraries, and although the collotype facsimile published in 1965 is worth a look, there is nothing that quite compares with the sight of impressions from new type cast in the 16th-century matrices. The same specimen has spreads showing Garamond’s big Canon roman, and Granjon’s italic for the same body, and other romans and italics by both artists.

And here’s a detail of Granjon’s bigger roman from the same book, on Petit Parangon (about 20 points) here but sometimes cast on a smaller body. In some ways it’s a more subtle working-out of a design similar to that of the Cicero but with a more normal x-height. That g is about as pretty as they get. The U is later.