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A2 Mazarin is a new font with an illustrious pedigree. Originally designed as a Garamond-inspired metal typeface by Robert Girard c.1921–23, and published under the name Astrée by esteemed French foundry Deberny & Peignot, the typeface was soon recut and renamed Mazarin by renowned English foundry Stephenson Blake in 1926. Only ever available in a single style (with matching Italic), the font has now been expertly restored and reimagined as a contemporary typeface in multiple styles.


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Source material. Letterpress printed specimen published in 1926 by Stephenson, Blake Co. Ltd., Letter Founders, Sheffield and London. Acquired ca. 2002 by Henrik Kubel for the A2-Type specimen collection.

Source material.

Notes On Cardinal Mazarin, States-Man, Prince of the Church, after whom the Mazarin Series is named.

Cardinal Mazarin at the apex of his power was not only the most important man in the political affairs of Europe, but also one of the wealthiest men of his day. He had an enormous income from Church property, and added to that income by trading on a big scale. In those days it was not unusual for a public man to take advantage of his position to engage in mercantile ventures, and there is an abundance of evidence that Mazarin was a merchant in a big way of business.

Being a cultured man and a lover of the arts, one use which he made of his great wealth was to accumulate a notable collection of works of art. By means often of the French ambassadors at foreign courts he acquired many very famous pictures, a wonderful collection, and other works of art in addition to books. It was in 1643 that he determined to build up a great library and for this purpose he employed the services of Gabriel Naude, who had been the librarian of Cardinal Richelieu and was unquestionably one of the most learned bibliographers in Europe. Naude journeyed for the purpose of buying books to the Netherlands, to England, and especially to Italy, from which country he is reported to have brought back fourteen thousand volumes.

Before many years the Cardinal's library was the largest in France, not excepting the Royal library. Moreover Mazarin did what was unusual in his day, he placed his collection at the service of scholars of all nations and creeds. At a time when the King's library was quite inaccessible, learned men were permitted to pursue their studies in the Cardinal's palace.During the political disturbances of the Fronde, the Mazarin collection was almost entirely dispersed. The party in power in Paris ordered the sale of the whole contents of Mazarin's palace. This was carried out and for a time the library ceased to exist. In spite of this heavy blow, however, Mazarin was not discouraged. On his return to power he set about the task of reforming his large collection of works of art and also his library. He recovered most of his former treasures and, with the assistance of Colbert, by the time of his death in 1661 he had amassed a collection of some fifty thousand printed books and four hundred manuscripts. These were accommodated along with the works of art in the palace which Mazarin had acquired for the purpose, and which later became the home of the Bibliotheque Nationale.

Mazarin's books, bequeathed with a sum for their maintenance to the College des Quatre-Nations, now form the Bibliotheque Mazarine, a great library to-day, second only in France to the Bibliotheque Nationale. At the time when Mazarin formed his library the collection of early printed books as such was unknown. The history of typography had not begun to be recorded. The Cardinal's volumes were naturally acquired principally for their subject matter. The collection was exceptionally rich in theological works and books on medicine and law. But it was inevitable that a library formed in the middle of the seventeenth century should contain a number of books which are now regarded as typographical treasures. Among the two hundred editions of the Bible, for example, was a copy of Gutenberg's 42-line Bible, the first substantial book ever printed. It was from the Cardinal's very fine copy that this book became known as the Mazarin Bible.

One of the first men to study this printed book from a typographical point of view was G. F. de Bore. In his bibliographie Instructive published at Paris in 1763 he gave a description of Gutenberg's Bible based on the copy in the Cardinal's library, and from that time it has been known as the Mazarin Bible. The copy in the Bibliotheque Nationale, which was procured later than the date of de Bure's volume, is even more famous; this is the copy which contains the note of the rubricator, Heinrich Cremer, of Mainz, dated August, 1456, from which we now know the printing of Gutenberg's Bible must have been completed by the Spring of that year.

All the Incunabula of the Bibliotheque Mazarine have been catalogued and are known to typographical students. This has not as yet been done for the sixteenth century, and probably many treasures of that century are sill buried there. Mazarin, of course, was an Italian, born at Piscina in 1602, and as this would naturally lead us to expel, his library was exceedingly rich in works of Italian literature.

Extract from letterpress printed specimen published in 1926 by Stephenson, Blake Co. Ltd., Letter Founders, Sheffield and London.