Anatomy of Type Faces: Variations of Garamond

In my discussion last month of the origin on the popular Garamond types, I emphasize the fact that there are two basic sources of inspiration for contemporary type designers who wish to create letters modeled upon the original. The true Garamond types appear in the specimen sheet of the Frankfurt typefoundry of Egenolff-Berner, dated 1592.

The type of similar appearance, cut by Jean Jannon about 1621, became the property of the Imprimerie Nationale, achieving worldwide attention about 1900 under the name of caractères de l’Université. This latter type was mistakenly attributed to Claude Garamond.

It is to the American Type Founders Company that we owe the first successful revival of the Garamond types. Morris Fuller Benton, ATF’s principal type designer, encouraged by the reception to a resurrection of Bodoni in 1909, followed up with an adaptation of the and Nicolas Jenson type, under the name of Cloister Oldstyle.

This, too, being well received, he next turned his attention to the caractères de l’Université, collaborating in the venture with T.M. Cleland, one of the foremost typographers of the period. Both designers were stimulated by the interest of the astute typographic historian, Henry Lewis Bullen, then librarian of the ATF library.

When ATF Garamond was completed in 1917, etc. standard for a Garamond revival of international importance, resulting in the universal acceptance of the type as a standard letterform. Since ATF Garamond is the hallmark design which has influenced a number of rather close adaptations, its characteristics are worth noting carefully.

The first notable feature is the narrow set-width of the cap E, F, and L, a throwback to the roman inscription on capitals of the first century. The J, a letter which did not of course appear in the original fonts and therefore had to be created by Benton and Cleland is a full-on-the-body character.

The T is unique, with a perpendicular serif on the right and a slope one on the left, making it, without question, the easiest letter to remember. The W is constructed of crossed V’s.

Two lowercase letters with unusual characteristics are the a and e, both of which have remarkably small counter spaces, quite out of proportion to the size of the characters.

In the g, always a letter into which a designer may build individualist touches, the “ear” is quite straight and horizontal, while the lower bowl is pitched about 25 degrees. The beginning serifs of such letters as i, j, m, n, etc., are gracefully curved. The f has a wide, tapered kern.


Garamond—The selected letters are from five Garamond fonts manufactured by (top to bottom): ATF, Monotype (Garamont), Mergenthaler (Stempel-Linotype), Ludlow and Mergenthaler (Granjon).

Three other Garamonds are almost identical to the ATF design—Linotype Garamond No. 3, Intertype Garamond, and American Garamond of Lanston Monotype Company. The slug-machine copies lack the kerned f of the single-type version and in the italics do not fit so closely. In attempting to identify typefaces, this is one of the first items to be checked, although, understandably, there are numerous single types which do not have a kerned f.

Monotype’s American Garamond is available in sizes up to 12-point. It was cut to satisfy the demands of printers owning Monotype equipment who wish to have a close copy of ATF Garamond.

In 1920 Frederic W. Goudy making art director of Lanston Monotype Company, and for the first type under his new responsibility he turned to a new conception of the Garamond design. While based upon the same source as the ATF version, Goudy’s type differs in a number of respects. First, it is called Garamont, the correct historical spelling of the name of the French punchcutter.

Goudy Wrote later w that his conception was “not the result of inspiration or genius on my part, but was merely the result of an attempt to reproduce as nearly as possible the form and spirit of the Garamond letter.”

The first point of difference is in the width of the cap E, F, and L, which do not have the narrow classic proportion. Goudy Chose to make his J with the other capital letters and to supply a non-crossing W. In the lowercase font, aside from an m and n which appear just a trifle large, Garamont is very similar to ATF Garamond.

The next Garamond to be produced issued from the Stempel foundry in Germany in 1924 and was also made available on the Linotype machine. This type was adapted from the Egenolff-Berner sheet and is therefore a true Garamond. In the cap font, the They in the sizes before 24-point is concave, the J is a descending letter, and in the T both serifs slope to the right. It is in the P that one characteristic is noticeable which may be applied to all of the copies of the original Garamond: this is the counter space, which is unclosed. In the lowercase the beginning serifs of i, j, m, n, etc. are almost wedge-shaped.

Mergenthaler Linotype Company offers a Garamond closely allied to the Stempel cutting, which is somewhat heavier and not quite so graceful. In this version, called simply Garamond (with no number attached), all of the features noted above are adhered to. The cap A differs, however, and having a concave peak in all sizes.

In 1930, R. Hunter Middleton designed for the Ludlow Typograph Company a Garamond also based upon the 1592 specimen. This is the lightest in weight of all the Garamonds and is an extremely graceful letter. In common with the “true” copies, the counter of the P remains open, but the T features serifs which tilt in both directions.

The one lowercase character which varies from the pattern is the g, in which the lower bowl inclines to 45 degrees. The distinguished typographer, Bruce Rogers, admired this type very much as stated to the writer that he believed it to be one of the best of the current Garamonds.

The most widely used copy of the original Garamond is a type designed for Linotype under the direction of George W. Jones in England in 1924. Paradoxically, it is named for Granjon, a contemporary of Garamond, whose types also appear in the Egenolff-Berner sheet. Granjon has a slightly concave A, and open-counter P, and a T identical to that in the ATF fonts. The lowercase serifs, as in the other Egenolff-Berner copies, are quite straight.

Finally, the most recent version is that produced by the Italian matrix manufacturer, Simoncini. It is also available in single types from the German foundry, Ludwig & Meyer. The unusual feature of Simoncini Garamond is the short descenders.


This article first appeared in the “Typographically Speaking” column of the June 1967 issue of Printing Impressions.

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