Claude Garamond

Claude Garamond (originally Garamont) was born in about 1480 in Paris, France, and is reputed to be among the greatest and foremost type designers, and “the best type cutter of his day”. He was also an engraver, letter founder, punch cutter and publisher, but it is the elegance of his typefaces that remain highly regarded, even today. But, he was greatly influenced and produced a wealth of works.

In 1510, Garamond trained as a punch cutter with Simon de Colines. Ten years later, he was an apprentice to Geoffroy Tory, a French humanist and engraver. In 1530, in an edition of Erasmus’ book, “Paraphrasis in Elegantiarum Libros Laurentii Vallae”, Garamond had his first type used. Interestingly, the type was based on one called “De Aetna”, cut by Aldus Manutius in 1455, and was called “Garamond”. Importantly, “this small Roman type became the standard European type of the day and was still in use in the 18th Century. During most of the 20th Century, most leading foundries around the world have redrawn their own versions of Garamond’s typeface, and Garamond’s roman is still regarded today as one of the classic typefaces.”

typeparis-bnf_13 Garamond, Gros Canon, Specimen, date unknown

But Garamond’s collaborations would continue as, from 1545 onwards, he worked as a publisher alongside Pierre Gaultier, first, and then Jean Barbe. During this time, he published David Chambellan’s book, “Pia et Religiosa Meditatio”. Garamond was known as being quite innovative as well, as the roman and italic types that he designed were done as metal types, and not as imitations of handwriting. These said roman letter forms were greatly respected in his native France, and elsewhere, greatly influenced the switch from the gothic or black letter as the standard in printing.

01 Garamond, Garamond roman, Granjon italic, Specimen, date unknown

Several contemporary typefaces, including those currently known as “Garamond”, “Granjon”, and “Sabon”, reflect his influence. Garamond was the first to specialize in type design and punch-cutting as a service to others. As the first type designer and punch-cutter to retail his punches to other printers, Garamond helped to shape the future of commercial printing and to spur the widespread dissemination of new typefaces. Some modern type designs given his name are not closely related to his, but are based on types that were mistakenly attributed to him.

Garamond died in 1561, and following his death, Christoph Plantin from Antwerp, the Le Bé type foundry and the Frankfurt foundry Egenolff-Bermer acquire a large proportion of Garamond’s original punches and matrices. The typefaces Garamond produced between 1530 and 1545 are considered the typographical highlight of the 16th century.

Works influenced/inspired by Garamond

peto_steve_w4a3 Steve Peto, Bio and Graphic Design Poster, Poster, 2012

1d78ea54daf2c7db  Angel Acevedo, Typography Competition Poster, Poster, 2007


Claude Garamond. Retrieved October 24, 2015, from

Font Designer – Claude Garamond. Retrieved October 24, 2015, from

Garamond, Claude. Retrieved October 24, 2015, from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s