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Words by Michel Wlassikoff

Garamond revivals: interpretations of the beginnings of the 20th century

In the early 20th century, Georges Peignot and Henri Parmentier’s creation of a Garamont typeface, influenced by modern printing requirements and Art Nouveau aesthetics, came to dominate French typography for decades.
In the early 20th century, Georges Peignot and Henri Parmentier’s creation of a Garamont typeface, influenced by modern printing requirements and Art Nouveau aesthetics, came to dominate French typography for decades.
In France, from 1914, Georges Peignot, director of the eponymous foundry, and Henri Parmentier, its punchcutter, began creating a Garamond which would not be published until 1926 by the Deberny & Peignot foundry. Based on the design of the typeface proposed in 1900 by the Imprimerie Nationale, it is designed according to the modern printing requirements of paper (based on wood pulp, unlike rag papers of the Sixteenth century). Marked by Art Nouveau, with its slightly sinuous ”a” or its ”z” seeming to move towards the left, it remained the reference Garamond in France for several decades. In 1917, the American Type Founders (ATF) presented a version designed by Morris Fuller Benton and Thomas Maitland Cleland. It was based on the research of the librarian and typography historian Henry Lewis Bullen, as well as on the Imprimerie Nationale model. Initially designed for book uses, it has enjoyed great success, including in uses for which it was not initially intended, such as advertising. Its rather calm, not very dynamic construction is accompanied by certain surprising letter tracings, such as the ”e”, closer to the oval than the circle, or the ”a”, whose lower loop is relatively large for a Garamond. In the 1920s, the Fonderie Typographique Française in turn acquired a Garamond far removed from the productions of its competitors; fat, thick, it is also far from equaling them. On the other hand, the Stempel foundry, in Frankfurt, published a Garamond in 1925 inspired by the Egenolff-Berner specimen of 1592. Its powerful, solid, fairly black design still makes it one of the most popular today and cited by typographers. It is relatively ”normalized” in its strokes, compared to others. We can particularly see this in the italic, whose axis of inclination varies little, especially in comparison with that, twirling, of Garamond Deberny & Peignot.
At the start of the 20th century, manual typesetting faced serious competition from mechanical typesetting, whose printing equipment manufacturers, Linotype and Monotype, soon became typefounding businesses. Recutting the characteristics of the heritage through the use of their machines, they are equipping themselves with their own Garamond, responding to the requirements of ”hotmetal typesetting”. In 1921, Lanston Monotype (United States) made its Garamond (Series 248) available to the public, designed by Frederic William Goudy and cut by Robert Wiebking. The following year, another series (Series 156) was published by the British subsidiary of the same Monotype company. Very different from that of Frederic Goudy, it is based on the Imprimerie Nationale model. The Garamond Monotype Series 156 would later become the Garamond with which all personal computers are equipped by default. Ample, round, quite thin, the differences between its full and loose sides are not very marked. It is a typeface which has a strong width (it takes up a lot of space in width) but, faithful to the typography of the 16th and 17th centuries, it has a significantly lighter italic, narrower than the roman – this is one of the strong points of the Monotype machines compared to their Linotype competitors, for which the roman and italic must be of the same width. This is the case of Garamond Nº3, published in 1936. It is in reality the Garamond ATF by Morris Fuller Benton adapted to the technical constraints of the Linotype machine. In addition to these two large foundries, we can also mention, in 1922, the Garamond for Ludlow typesetting machine, designed by Robert Hunter Middleton. A laborious face, intended for everyday texts, Garamond is considered by many to be eminently bookish. Despite the intensive use that typographers have made of Garamond for less ”noble” work composed on machine (daily press or cheap editions ), it still retains a little of the aura and prestige of the manual composition.
In this file the following character specimens are presented :
Specimen book and catalog, American Type Founders Company (ATF), 1923, Forney Library.
Garamond, a specimen of classic face, Monotype, 1923. Forney Library.
Garamond, Stempel foundry, circa 1925. Forney Library.
Garamond characters, roman and italic. Completed with old vignettes, initials and modern vignettes designed by Ben Sussan, Deberny and Peignot foundry, 1933. Signes Archives.
Specimen book Linotype faces, Mergenthaler linotype Company, [ca 1935]. Forney Library.
Garamond, specimen, International Typeface Corporation, 1977. Archives Signes.

    The Beatrice Warde article

    In 1926, the highly specialized typographic journal The Fleuron, edited by Stanley Morison in London, published under the pseudonym Paul Beaujon a study by Beatrice Warde, a typographic adviser for the Monotype corporation, titled “The Garamond Type, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Sources Considered”. According to Ms. Warde, the punches preserved at the Imprimerie Nationale, believed to be the work of Garamont, are in fact types cut by Jean Jannon around 1620. She identified the original punches and their direct lineage on the side of Frankfurt (and Jacques Sabon). In this article, the authorship of the “Estienne types” is also questioned. The historical knowledge regarding Garamond types was based on vague and incomplete information; this article clarifies some of their origins. The revelations of The Fleuron were not commented on in France except by the typographer and letter historian from Lyon, Marius Audin, who observed: “This poor letter of Garamont was born under the sign of the sphinx; nothing is known about it, and the little that is believed to be known is hidden,” adding ironically: “The type that occasionally emerges from the shadow where it is kept by the Imprimerie Nationale and which the publishing house is full of, is therefore not at all the Garamond...” Paradoxically, the Monotype Garamond, also marketed by the company that employs Ms. Warde, is based on the model from the Imprimerie Nationale, thereby in a way usurping its name.
    Document: The Garamond types by Paul Beaujon, The Fleuron No. V, 1926.

    Deberny and Peignot’s Garamond

    For the 1900 World Fair, the Imprimerie Nationale had Jules Hénaffe re-cut a type found in its collection that appeared to correspond to the original Garamond. Splendid works produced from its presses were equipped with it, including Histoire de l’Imprimerie XVe-XVIe siècle by Anatole Claudin. In his preface, Arthur Christian, the director of the Imprimerie Nationale, indicates: “Old faces but of new casting were chosen; they have the invaluable advantage of being absolutely consistent with the old castings, as the Imprimerie Nationale always preserves the punches and matrices of the types cut for its own use. The general type of these founts differs little from that of the types designed by Garamont under Francis I.”
    In 1914, Jean Paillard, author of a study on Garamont, attempted to submit it to Arthur Christian but the director of the National Printing Office refused to meet him, feeling that nothing could be taught to him about Garamont. Paillard clearly states in his booklet that the only certainty about the start of Claude Garamont’s practice is found in the commitment taken by the royal administration to entrust him with the cutting of the Grecs du roi in 1540. Before that, nothing ensures that Garamont contributed to the appearance of the “Estienne romans” around 1530-1532. It is evident that the director of the Imprimerie Nationale rather draws his certainties from custom than from historical research. Besides the lack of knowledge about Claude Garamont’s work, his initiative of recreation leads him to attribute to Garamont types that are largely those of Jean Jannon, which are late interpretations around 1620 of the original roman. This error would be corrected much later. In the meantime, many type foundries would rely on the Imprimerie Nationale model as the source of Garamond. Thus, in France in 1913, Georges Peignot, director of the eponymous foundry, and Henri Parmentier, his punchcutter, began the creation of a Garamont (with a “t” at the end) which would not be published until 1926 by the foundry Deberny & Peignot. Based on the design of the type proposed in 1900 by the Imprimerie Nationale, it was designed according to the modern printing imperatives of wood-based paper (unlike the rag papers of the 16th century). Marked by Art Nouveau with its slightly sinuous “a” or its “z” seeming to veer to the left, it remains the reference Garamont in France for several decades. It was notably used as the exclusive typeface for the works of the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade starting in 1930. The type is accompanied by a creation of original vignettes designed by René Ben Sussan (1895-1988), a renowned painter and illustrator during the interwar period, notably for many books.
    Document: Archives Signes

    Marius Audin’s studies on Garamont

    Marius Audin (1872-1951) was a printer, typographer, and historian of printing from Lyon. In 1918, he established his own printing and publishing house on Rue Davout in Lyon, which today bears his name. In the 1920s, he met the British Stanley Morison and together they published typographic booklets and a significant bibliographic study on the De Tournes family, printers in Lyon.
    Marius Audin wrote tirelessly about the history of printing. Early on, he had the idea of gathering his writings along with those of his friends, who were also historians of the discipline and bibliophiles, into a large encyclopedia. However, the era was not conducive to such a large undertaking, with the crisis of the 1930s looming. The publisher Henri Jonquières, though passionate about the project, could not commit. Audin then proposed publishing in small thematic booklets which would offer more flexibility. Seven small booklets were produced, but it was not until after the war, in 1948, that the first volume of the “Somme typographique” (Les Origines) was published by the printer-publisher Paul Dupont.
    Two of his small booklets published in 1931 were dedicated to Garamont and Granjon. Garamont types, erroneously called “Caractère de l'Université”, comments on Beatrice Warde’s article criticizing the mistake made by the Imprimerie Nationale in confusing the types of Garamond with those of Jannon. The Granjon piece pays tribute to the Lyonese character creator for the quality of his italics and highlights his civilité types.

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