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Claude Garamond’s Influence on the Creation of Typography

Claude Garamond was a publisher who made the way for many things in the world of typography. Sadly, in his lifetime, he was pretty much poor and was not as recognized as he is today (Garamond – Garamont’s will. (n.d.).). When someone mentions the name Garamond, the font immediately comes to mind. While it is true that it has some strong connections to his work, the Garamond font that bears his name has been exchanged from quite a few hands. It was not stolen, but there was quite a bit of confusion from his work and others who were merely influenced by his style.

Claude Garamond was born in Paris, France in 1499 (Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.).). During this time, reading, writing, and the arts were becoming more and more widespread. He studied under notable people such as Antoine Augerau and later Geoffroy Tory, who were skilled type founders, much like Garamond himself would become later on. Some of Garamond’s most notable work included a version of the New Testament that was printed in his typeface, and the widely used font that is known today as Garamond.

Garamond published his first book around 1545, but he steadily worked up until then on different manuscripts and letter making. He was known for his Roman and Greek typesets, and he was one of the pioneers of using the letter punch style of creating fonts and letter styles. These were what made his name known today, but also made his work become ideal as a standalone type creator. This paved the way for many others for a very long time.

Garamond’s style was Roman and Greek typset related, but he also helped create things that were in other languages. This includes both influence and by physical design. His letter punch style made things simpler and more efficient, and many people followed after him.

The letter punch process involved carved out steel bars or stamps that featured the glyphs and shapes of the letters themselves. These were then punched into the medium, whether it is paper, linen, or even sometimes stone. The stamps themselves would be inverted to show the character being used the right way. These were cast out of steel most of the time but had other materials as well. Garamond also engraved these as well as used them. A lot of others did one or the other, but he did both, and used them frequently. Reproductions of his tools are in existence and are considered valuable learning tools and pieces of history.

The well-known font Garamond came to be in an interesting way. When Claude Garamond died in 1561, his wife sold his equipment, including the punches he used. Because several well-known type creators had access to these, his styles became very widely used. There were many revivals of this style due to the fact that his punches, along with several other type creators were reproduced from these. There were many other revivals but one main revival really helped cement the Garamond typeset.

Jean Jannon was one of the most notable reproducers of Claude Garamond’s style. He had a lot of similarities to Claude Garamond. He was born in France, and was also a type founder. He started as a printer and ended up getting into punch cutting later on. He was born in He ended up being one of very few punch cutters remaining in his time. Most notably, his work was confused with Garamond’s and because of this; there was a huge revival of the Garamond style.

The Garamond font has unique properties. The x-heights are low, and the font itself has a serif. The letters themselves are quite sloped. A lot of engravers and the like use this style because it is not only timeless, but efficient. The letters are thin themselves and don’t require a lot of materials to feature them. This means it is also cost efficient. The look of the style helps because it is clean.

Today, the font Garamond is widely known. This is because of the revivals. Every few centuries there seemed to be revivals of different styles, and the Garamond style, both Garamond and Jannon’s versions, are still widely used. One of the most prominent ways this font is known is from the Adobe software. The font is included in the software packages and is also seen in many books and other literature that are considered classic. This also includes the original work that includes the Garamond style as well. Some of the tools based on Garamond’s work have been preserved and are still studied even today for the letter punch process and for the valuable resources and work that have come out of those seemingly simple tools. It is hard to believe that simple metal could produce such important things.

Claude Garamond left a legacy. Although he lived in poverty through his life, he definitely left a mark in the world of typography. He worked at a time when there were no computers or even electric to work with. His work is still looked upon as a prime example of class and ideal aesthetic for font makers today. The crisp and classic look of the font, in all of its forms, is still looked upon as an ideal font to use. Because of the smoothness and availability, many people still use the font today.

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