Type Anatomy: Jessica Colvin

Garamond has always been one of my favorite serif typefaces.  To me Garamond feels more professional and nuanced than Times New Roman and it has been my staple for non-design heavy resumes.  As a part of the writing program I have had multiple engaging conversations about the qualities of a typeface like Garamond and the delicate stems of the letters, the open rounded capital letters clearly visible in the G as compared Times New Roman’s blocky more rectangular G.

I found Ellen Lupton’s “Thinking with Type” particularly interesting in the history she gave on the Garamond typeface.  I learned that Garamond was developed around the fifteenth century and is considered a humanist typeface that was in the group of typefaces that rejected older gothic writing styles in favor of the rounded more open feel that I have always appreciated.

While at the MASC today I found a 1926 example of Garamond in “The Fleuron: a journal of typography” by Oliver Simon.  This typeface example I found particularly engaging because of the stylized Garamond (labeled “Garamont” in this example) type family shown at the bottom.

1926 Garamont typeface example from “The Fleuron” (Simon, Oliver, et al. “Fleuron (London, England).” Fleuron (London, England), 1923.)


While I had already learned from Lupton’s book that Garamond’s x-height has commonly changed throughout the decades, I had not seen or heard of a version of Garamond including these quite elegant swash curls on the letters’ terminals, finials, and descenders.  I find the “N” striking in this family of Garamond for the finial on the down stroke of the N that is so pronounced it could be considered a descender.  A similar emphasis is placed on the tale of the R and to a lesser extend the tail of the G.  The lowercase letter examples in this family are also interesting for the length and curled distortion added to the terminals of each letter.  The width of these lowercase letters are nearly twice that of their equivalents in the rest of the typeface family, however that width is added primarily in the terminal.

This family of Garamond also has distinctly thicker stems and appears larger than the rest of the examples shown in this image.  It makes me wonder if this is meant as an option for bold Garamond.  If that is the case I would be curious as to the history of where that version of bold Garamond was used and why, according to page 40 of Lupton’s “Thinking with Type”, it was so quickly replaced with a more traditional style of bold.

Garamond variations
(Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type : A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students, Princeton Architectural Press, 2010, pg 40)

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