Garamond: Choose Your Weapon

Trevor Baum's picture

Robert Slimbach's Adobe Garamond used to be my go-to, but I've grown more and more fond of Stempel Garamond. Its sharpness is so pleasing to my eye, a bit like Matthew Carter's Galliard, another favorite.

[Images from Peter Gabor/Barney Carroll]

What's your favorite iteration of Garamond, and why?

Andreas Stötzner's picture

I suppose you deal with Slimbach’s older Garamond here which Adobe replaced by a new (and better) one some years ago.

As a reader of books printed in Germany I am quite fond of the Stempel version too, though it is not actually the most garamondish one (compared to the original). The next in my ranking would be the Typoart Garamond by Herbert Thannhäuser, followed by Monotype and Adobe.

Perhaps someone out here can shed light on the availability of a digital Typoart version –?

Last and least, the ITC sort is a non-starter for me, and has always been.

flooce's picture

I enjoy reading the more modern interpretation of Garamond, like Sabon, immensely! I find the new Adobe font Garamond Premiere Pro needs good printing conditions, because of the more historical accurate lower x-height, so personally as non professional, I would have no use for it.

Similar to my preference for Sabon, I admire Garamond (sometimes mixed with other old-style influences) inspired fonts like Rawlinson 2.0, Lyon, Epic, Merlo, etc… I personally would love to see more of them in use. But I guess book design is a conservative business, why implement a new typeface (with print optimization process involved as well) if one has a set of typefaces already, which proofed to be reliable.

riccard0's picture

Some good discussions are linked on the Typowiki entry:

ncaleffi's picture

Adobe Garamond - Slimbach's first rendition - is still my favourite digital Garamond, a version I've learned to love after using it. I still prefer it to Slimbach's second (and historically, apparently, more accurate) version, the Premier. Most of other digital renditions of metal-era types (Sabon, Simoncini, Monotype et al.) look poor when compared to the original ones.

For Andreas Stötzner: Elsner and Flake license a Typoart Garamond.

Trevor Baum's picture

I love Sabon and Sabon Next. Does anyone have any experience with Adobe's newer Garamond Premier Pro? I've heard nothing but stellar things - seems like a definitive, authentic collection.

What about MVB Verdigris, ITC Galliard or Abrams Augereau? Three stunning works, in my opinion.

If you were to buy one definitive family (with price in mind), which would you choose?

Michel Boyer's picture

It would have been appropriate to link the above pictures (or at least to give credit) to Peter Gabor's Blog or, for those that don't read French, to Barney's English Translation of the blog on Garamond.

quadibloc's picture

When it comes to Caslon, while Adobe Caslon is just a bit too inauthentic, I think it's a good and readable face, and so I tend to favor versions of Caslon which skate close to the line that Adobe Caslon, unfortunately, crossed.

But Garamond, on the other hand, is so beautiful to modern eyes in its original form that I see no justification for a revival not being highly authentic (but still with some compromises for modern readers).

Of the faces illustrated, I think the Stempel and the Monotype are the ones I prefer. But that could just be from being habituated to ATF Garamond, or Linotype Garamond No. 3.

Trevor Baum's picture

Thanks Michel, you're right - I just added the image credits to the OP.

Michel Boyer's picture

Good. I know this is "just a blog", but I tend to consider Typophile as a reference, thanks to the general quality of posts.

butterick's picture

Concur on Stempel Garamond and Sabon. They're both great

Nick Shinn's picture

I haven't been able to get worked up about Garamond for a long time. 1992 in fact.
It's been done to death.
The Helvetica of oldstyles.

kvaternion's picture

I really like Garamon Premier Pro - it has a lot of character (and characters) and lovely OSF

Trevor Baum's picture

I love Garamond Premier Pro too, kvaternion.

What about this beautiful interpretation, Verdigris by Mark van Bronkhorst?

Nick Shinn's picture

Has the term Garamond become so loose that it now fits all Garaldes?
In that case, I nominate my own “Garamond”, Oneleigh.

poms's picture

impure sanded lens effect type design. A Psychedlic Oldstyle.

Nick Shinn's picture

…sanded lens effect…

The blobbyness which many old style revivals exhibit is a parsing of the ink spread that was a strong feature of printing in the old style era, on rag paper. Goudy was a pioneer of this look, and both Monotype Garamond (in metal) and Tony Stan's ITC Garamond had a lot of it.

It comes from basing a display cut (or single master) on a small size letterpress sample, and resisting the temptation to clean things up. Seneca has that effect too.

…Psychedlic Oldstyle…

I don't think so. Trying to capture the sometime strange proportions, irregularity and bounce of old letterpress printing in newer, more precise technology, is a clear-headed design strategy, not whimsical. It's an integral part of the look.
The vast majority of revivals, which make everything so neat, are white bread emasculations, IMO.
And not just my opinion, Goudy, Cooper, Weiss and Koch were similarly minded, back in the Historicist era; experimental perhaps, but not on hallucinogens.

Té Rowan's picture

@poms - No psychedelia in Oneleigh. A wee dram to drive away the chill, maybe, but no psychotropes.

pjay's picture

You don't seem to run across it much now, at least in American publishing, but I like the look of Berthold.

Christopher Slye's picture

... Slimbach’s older Garamond here which Adobe replaced by a new (and better) one some years ago.

Adobe Garamond was not "replaced" by Garamond Premier. We consider them different designs which excel in different environments.

Trevor Baum's picture

That's true - Adobe Garamond to my eyes seems bit smoother, more regular and text-friendly, while Garamond Premier is more historically and aesthetically accurate.

palebunny's picture

I like Adobe and Stempel. However, there is so much variation under Photoshop's crisping/smoothing/strong font weights!

pjay's picture

We forgot Linotype Granjon, which has a wonderful, dashing lower case italic 'k'.

Trevor Baum's picture

Good points.

Another point of discussion is drawing the line between a Garamond and a Garalde. Of course Garamond has become the archetypal Garalde, but a typeface is only a "Garamond revival" if the type designer was attempting to recreate/interpret the work of Claude Garamond. Anything else that simply falls under the style is a Garalde. Is that oversimplifying it?

For example: Adobe/Stempel/Berthold Garamonds are Garamonds, and by inclusion, Garaldes. But ITC Galliard, Plantin, MVB Verdigris, Rongel, Espinosa Nova et al are Garaldes but not Garamonds.

fredo's picture

I'd exclude the Jannons from your chart (Simoncini, ITC, Monotype) and add – with emphasis – Renard by Fred Smeijers. As opposed to Sabon Next and the Adobe Garamond it does not look as it's been dipped in chocolate.


Trevor Baum's picture

Excellent suggestion, fredo. No. 3 Roman is such a gorgeous set of letters. Claude would be proud. Although, what did you mean about your 'dipped in chocolate' comment? Do you think those faces are too sweet, too homogenized to do justice to the originals?

"Renard belongs to the broad category of Garamonds but occupies a unique place among them. The roman descends - unlike some other Garamonds - from a clearly traceable historical origin. In other words: it's from a good pedigree with decent papers. Next to that it's the only Garamond which can rightfully claim to be 'Flemish'. Not only because of its roots, but certainly due to its almost Breughelian features. Which is something that's lacking not only in competitive revivals, but in any other Garamond." -

fredo's picture

Not too sweet. Mushy, more like it. I find them too soft around the edges. I assume it's done to imitate the inkspread and impression of Garamond-era printing, and I know people appreciate them for their warm fuzziness, but if I wanted that, I'd go for Cooper Black.

kentlew's picture

Uh, Trevor, I just want to be clear. Are you saying you’re excluding general Garaldes, but intend to add Renard to your set of true Garamonds?

If so, then I think you’ve just contradicted your own definition.

“Renard is an interpretation of a 2-line Double Pica Roman (Gros Canon) cut by the Flemisch punchcutter Hendrik van den Keere around 1570.”

Van den Keere may have possessed and cast type from some of Garamond’s matrices during his career as a typefounder. And he was undoubtedly influenced by Garamond, as were most of his contemporaries. But this Gros Canon was from his own punches.

I don’t think Van den Keere should be considered any truer a “Garamond” (as opposed to working in the general “Garalde” style) than Robert Granjon, for example. Which would make Renard no more eligible for your list, in my opinion, than Galliard and Plantin.

Don’t get me wrong. They’re all admirable faces. I’m just trying to clarify your scheme and intent.

Trevor Baum's picture

Fredo, I know what you mean - I tend to prefer the more incised, sharper Garaldes (Stempel Garamond and ITC Galliard especially) over the 'mushier' ones like Garamond 3 and Adobe Garamond.

Kentlew, I appreciate the argument, but I wasn't classifying Renard as a Garamond, his website was. I agree with you, it should definitely fall under the looser more interpretive umbrella of Garalde.

snow is nigh's picture

Adobe Garamond was not "replaced" by Garamond Premier. We consider them different designs which excel in different environments.

If this is true, then why not releasing optical sizes as well for Adobe Garamond (the first one?)
I see the difference, as Adobe Garamond is definitely more Office/Wordprocessing/Internet friendly, while Premiere needs a good design and professional environment. So if there are different purposed anyhow, why not go the full way and expending the family (small cap italics? caption and display?) a little? Probably this would be a Garamond overkill.

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