The rediscovery of the Imprimerie Nationale

For the Universal Exposition of 1900, the Imprimerie Nationale commissioned Jules Henaffe to recut the punches for a typeface found in its archives, which appear to correspond to the original Garamont. It was used to compose a series of splendid works, including Anatole Claudin's Histoire de l’Imprimerie XVe-XVIe Arthur Christian, the director of the Imprimerie Nationale, wrote: " Historic typefaces, but newly created, were selected; they have the inestimable advantage of being absolutely identical to the old fonts, as the Imprimerie Nationale still possesses the punches and matrices of fonts created for its particular use. The general type of these characters differs very little from those of the typefaces designed by Garamont under François I."

In 1900, the Imprimerie Nationale commissioned Jules Henaffe to recut the punches for a typeface found in its archives, which appear to correspond to the original Garamont.

In 1914, Jean Paillard wrote a study of Garamond and tried to submit it to Arthur Christian. According to Paillard's brother, however, “the director of the Imprimerie Nationale (…) refused to receive him, thinking that no one had anything to teach him about Garamont.” In his preface, Paillard clearly indicated that the only certainty as the beginning of Claude Garamont's career was to be found in the Royal administration agreement to commission Garamont to cut the punches for the grecs du roi in 1540. Prior to this, there is no proof that the Garamont contributed to the “Estienne typefaces" around 1530-1532. It was clear that the director of the Imprimerie Nationale was relying much more on his belief in customary ideas than in historical research. In addition to Christian's lack of understanding about Claude Garamont's œuvre, his efforts to recreate typefaces led him to attribute to Garamont fonts that were, for the most part, the work of Jean Jannon, – late interpretations (circa 1620) of the original roman font. These errors would be corrected later. In the meantime, a number of type foundries used the Imprimerie Nationale's model as the source of Garamond.

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