Jannon, the roman of the Imprimerie Royale

When Cardinal Richelieu created the Imprimerie Royale in 1640, the goal was to re-establish the authority and the standing of the State in this area. He did so in response to attempts by Protestants, both in France and abroad, to impose their ideas and unseat French domination in the realm of typography. Nevertheless, this new institution, which played a crucial role in supporting the publishing trade, was not based on new typographic designs, or on new typefaces. Rather, it was an effort to single out the best that existed for the greater glory of the Imprimerie, which was symbolically established in the Louvre.

Jannon, an 17th-century Garalde, was used by the Imprimerie Royale, and was later thought to be Garamont's original model.

Most of the punches for Estienne's and Garamont's romans had left the kingdom, even if some were found in Le Bé's foundry in Paris. Moreover, a number of the punch-cutters who could have created high-quality copies were also in exile. Thus, at the time the Imprimerie was established, it was not certain that it would be able to find good-quality roman typefaces. To complete its rather restricted set of type, the founders of the Imprimerie Royale commissioned the services of Jean Jannon, printer for the Protestant university of Sedan. Jannon had cut the punches for a typeface in the style of Garamond, and in 1621, he had published a type specimen, the first of its kind, which notably included a very small typeface, Sedanaise, a real feat at the time. Jannon was known in Paris, where he owned a branch printing establishment run by his son, and his typefaces attracted the attention of the founders of the Imprimerie Royale, who decided to purchase a set of matrices. The progressive abandonment of Garaldes by the Imprimerie Royale in the course of the 18th century meant that the matrices languished in the reserves. They were re-discovered during an inventory in 1827, and were wrongly attributed to Garamont instead of Jannon.

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