Metal type kerning example

Robert Granjon (1513-1590) developed a set of six combinable typographic fleurons (or “arabesques”), which have remained a staple of typographical and academic interest for several hundreds of years. Until now, every example I have seen, and every book written about them, utilize relatively small, decorative showings, which do not live up to the graphic potential of these deceptively simple glyphs. 

Here are the six fleurons and some simple combinations of just one of them.

Developing a feel for setting these ornaments can be intuitive at first, but only experience will reveal the endless possibilities. It’s easy enough to put together simple combinations, but you will find that the larger the pattern attempt, the more difficult it will be to execute successfully. There are a good number of books on the subject, many of which are listed below as “suggested reading.”

(to be continued)

Suggested reading:

A Suite of Fleurons, Ryder, John [1956] Phoenix House, London

Kleins Speil mit Ornamenten, Caflisch, Max [1965] Angelus-Druck Bern –

The Granjon Arabesque, Offner, Elliot [1969] The Rosemary Press (250 copies)

Printers’ Ornament, Roylance, Dale [?] Columbiad Club (50 copies)

Flowers & Flourishes, Ryder, John [1976] The Bodley Head

Framed with Flowers, Broadribb, Conant [1979] Demi-Griffin Press (100 copies)

An Exploration of the Granjon Arabesques, Tarachow, Michael & Dostale, Mercedes [1990] Pentagram Press (312 copies)

A Granjon Arabesque, Bolton, Clare [1998] Alembic Press (140 copies)

Granjon’s Flowers: An Enquiry into Granjon’s, Giolito’s, and De Tournes’ Ornaments 1542-86, Vervliet, Hendrik D. L., [2016] Oak Knoll Press

A Showing of Fleurons, Gravemaker, Thomas [2023], Bodleian Bibliographical Press (~30 copies)

The Diary of a Printer in Residence, Gravemaker, Thomas [2023], Letterpress Amsterdam (40 copies) See also: