Claude Garamond

Portrait: Claude Garamond
Claude Garamond, portrait by Léonard Gaultier, 1582
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Leipzig

Claude Garamond

Type founder at the King’s order

I earn really very little from my work, which is punch-cutting and letter-founding (…); those who merely cut types and go no further, are only making honey for the publishers.

Claude Garamond, foreword to Meditatio pia et religiosa by David Chambellan, 1545

Most likely born in 1499 in Paris, Claude Garamond began an apprenticeship as a book printer in 1510 in the workshop of the humanist, engraver and typographer Antoine Augereau. His first typographical works probably date back to the beginning of the 1530s, a notable example being the so-called Cicero typeface which was re-cut by his countryman Jean Jannon in 1620 and distributed under the name Garamond.

Garamond is today considered the creator of the first complete Antiqua typefaces of the Renaissance period, which he developed on the basis of a number of Italian precursor designs. In 1539 he received, by royal decree, his own type foundry and three years later he cut the so-called grecs du roi (“the Greeks of the King”) typefaces for King François I. This cemented his reputation as a master typographer and earned him the title of Royal Type Founder. Very little exact information still exists on the circumstances of Garamond’s life. He is known to have trained large numbers of apprentices at his workshop premises and his main source of income was the sale of typeface dies for Roman typefaces.