Little is known about the early life of France’s most distinguished type designer Claude Garamond, though he is mentioned as being “at work” in the printing business early in the sixteenth century, Garamond was commissioned by the French monarch, Francis I, to cut a font of Greek letter which later became known as the “Royal Greek Type.” An apprentice of France’s master typographer Geofroy Tory, Garamond eventually cut his own punches and matrixes and came to be known by his contemporaries as the foremost type designer of his day. During his most prolific period, he designed a large number of fonts, but his work has never been wholly classified.
He died in abject poverty in 1561: Garamond’s most significant contribution to his craft was in creating letters which could be considered as independent units; thus breaking away from the notion that type should be merely an adaptation of hand-written script. His elegant, spirited form finally freed typography from the Gothic influence which had prevailed since Gutenberg’s day.
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