Monotype Garamond is a family of two roman weights with complementary italic designs. The family also offers small capitals, old style figures, and a suite of swash alternate characters. While intended primarily for text composition, Monotype Garamond is distinctive, lively, and remarkably versatile in large sizes.
Monotype Garamond is a design of remarkable sophistication, and is certainly one of the most elegant interpretations of the Garamond type style. With its distinct contrast in stroke weights, open counters and delicate serifs, Monotype Garamond is exceptionally legible and can be set at virtually any size. The contrast between the Roman and Bold weights is nothing short of ideal.
Such an exemplary type revival is, of course, a tribute to the excellence of the model. As it turns out, the model in this case was inspired – but not designed – by Claude Garamond.
It was under Stanley Morison’s leadership, in the third decade of the twentieth century, that Monotype undertook the most aggressive program of typeface development ever attempted in Europe up to that time. The program encompassed original typefaces and interpretations of old designs. It would ultimately produce such faces as Centaur, Gill Sans, Perpetua, and Ehrhardt, as well as Monotype’s versions of Bembo, Baskerville, Fournier and of course, Garamond.
Cut in 1922, Monotype Garamond was the first of Morison’s celebrated typeface revivals. It was patterned after type from the archives of the French Imprimerie Nationale, the centuries-old office of French government printing (broadly equivalent to the US Government Printing Office, or Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in the UK).
The Imprimerie type was long believed to be the early-16th-century work of Claude Garamond. It was only in 1926, after “Garamond” fonts from Monotype and many other foundries had been released, that type historian Beatrice Warde discovered the type was the work of Jean Jannon, of Sedan, France. Jannon was a later designer who produced his work some eighty years after the fonts of Garamond. (In an added twist to this mistaken-identity plot, Warde published her discovery under the pseudonym “Paul Beaujon.”)
Jannon’s goal, much like Monotype’s three centuries later, was to imitate the style of the great masters of roman type and make their designs available to printers of his own day. Obviously, he succeeded. The French Imprimerie purchased his types and, over time, as the name of Jean Jannon faded, came to believe they were indeed fonts from the earlier master punch cutter.
In Monotype Garamond, as with other interpretations of the face, character stroke-weight stress is canted, with the heaviest parts at approximately the two and eight o'clock positions. Head serifs (those at the top of character strokes) look like little banners, and baseline serifs tend to be long and slightly cupped, with soft, rounded terminals.