Jacques Sabon

Jacques (or Jacob) Sabon was born in Lyon around 1520. He was one of the first type designers to specialise in type founding. Starting in 1557, he worked for the Egelnolff foundry in Frankfurt –which was slated to become the capital of European typography. His presence there was probably due as much to economic reasons as religious ones. Sabon, a Protestant, sought refuge in Frankfurt, much like André Wechel, Garamont's printer and executor. Summoned to Antwerp by Christophe Plantin in 1565, Sabon completed the punches for an unfinished alphabet by Garamont consisting of “large extraordinary capitals,” according to Plantin's archives.

The name Garamond thus became synonymous with excellence

In 1571 he married Judith Egelnolff, and the following year he took over the foundry. Garamont, Haultin and Granjon supplied him with French fonts. It is possible that André Wechel supplied him with many of these since, as Guillaume I Le Bé, stated during the sale of Garamont's worldly possessions: “André Wechel purchased the punches which he transported to Germany…."

After Sabon's death in 1580, his widow married Conrad Berner who, in 1592, published one of the first type specimens intended for a large clientele of printers. Formerly, type founders offered proof sheets within the context of small-scale commercial trading. This type specimen, as he pointed out in his commentary, was being distributed to printers in order to facilitate “the choice of character with which their work will best be carried out.” The romans included were given the name Garamond, and italics were attributed to Granjon. The whole was very similar to the typefaces owned by Plantin's printing workshop. The name Garamond thus became synonymous with excellence, rather than a faithful reproduction of original (and poorly defined) fonts. In 1960s, Jan Tschichold used the Egenolff-Berner type specimen to design a new Garalde that he named “Sabon", in homage to his distant predecessor.

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