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LUC DEVROYE


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William Caslon

William Caslon I was born in Worcestershire in 1692. He died in London in 1766. He was a gun smith and a typefounder. His William Caslon Foundry was established by him in 1719, and would operate in London for over 200 years. His Caslon Roman Old Face was cut between 1716 and 1728. The first fonts cut by Caslon were for Arabic (1725), Hebrew (1726) and Coptic (1731), but the designs date back to 1722. The first catalog was printed in 1734. His major influences were the Dutch designers Christoffel van Dijcks and Dirck Voskens. Updike: While he modelled his letters on Dutch types, they were much better; for he introduced into his fonts a quality of interest, a variety of design, and a delicacy of modelling, which few Dutch types possessed. Dutch fonts were monotonous, but Caslon's fonts were not so. His letters when analyzed, especially in the smaller sizes, are not perfect individually; but in their mass their effect is agreeable. That is, I think, their secret: a perfection of the whole, derived from harmonious but not necessarily perfect individual letterforms.

Caslon's fame stems largely from his specimen of 1734, showing types that were considered to be superior to the Dutch types that inspired them. The English reliance on Dutch types had finally come to an end. His types were just as highly regarded in America, where the Declaration of Independence was set in Caslon. His son, William Caslon II, took over the business upon his death in 1766.

There are four generations of William Caslons, numbered I (1692-1766), II (1720-1778), III (1754-1833) and IV (1780-1869), who took turns running the foundry. The foundry, eventually known as H.W. Caslon&Co., passed down through various members of the family until 1937, when the rights were transferred to Stephenson Blake.

Check out the free scanned version of A Specimen of Printing Types (1785, Galabin and Baker, London) by William Caslon III. A specimen of cast ornaments (1795) is by William Caslon III and Charles Whittingham (1767-1840). Recasting Caslon Old Face discusses Specimens of the original Caslon Old Face printing types, engraved in the early part of the 18th century by Caslon I (1896).

A listing of some digital version/revivals of Caslon's types:

  • Ralph Unger made Caslon Gotisch (2010) based on an example found in a 1763 specimen book.
  • Caslon Graphique EF (2001) was patterned after a 1725 Caslon face.
  • DS Caslon-Gotisch by Delbanco is based on a Caslon Gotisch by william Caslon, ca. 1760.
  • Caslon Graphique (2002) is a Linotype version of the same face, and was drawn by Leslie Usherwood.
  • Caslon 540 (Bitstream) is based on an ATF font from 1902. It comes in roman and italic.
  • LTC Caslon (2005, Lanston) is a large text family.
  • Caslon Old Face: a Bitstream font based on a 1950s photocomposition font from Mergenthaler by George Ostrochulski, which in turn was faithful to Caslon's originals.
  • Caslon Bold is the Bitstream version of Caslon 3 of the American Type Founders, 1905.
  • Caslon 3 by Linotype is a family based on the same Caslon 3 by ATF, 1905.
  • Linotype offers 69 versions/weights of Caslon's text family.
  • Adobe Caslon was digitized by Carol Twombly for Adobe in 1990. Called ACaslon, it comes in six styles. The Adobe Caslon from Linotype is more complete, and comes in 29 styles.
  • Big Caslon (1994, Matthew Carter, Font Bureau and Carter&Cone) comes in four styles. This is for the large display sizes only.
  • Fonts also available at URW and Elsner and Flake (see Caslon Graphique (1725)).
  • ITC Founder's Caslon Ornaments (1998): an ornamental family in 11 styles by Justin Howes.
  • ITC Caslon No. 224 (ITC and Bitstream) by Ed Benguiat, in 8 styles.
  • Caslon Antique by Berne Nadall was first published by Barnhart Bros&Spindler from 1896-1898, and later appeared in the ATF catalogs.
  • Caslon Open Face first appeared in 1915 at the Barnhart Bros.&Spindler foundry, and is not anything like the true Caslon types despite the name. It is intended exclusively for titles, headlines and initials. There are digital versions by Bitstream and Linotype.
  • Franko Luin's Caslon Classico (1993) is true to the original. Caslon Classico consists of two cuts with corresponding italic and small caps characters.

Klingspor link. FontShop link. http://www.linotype.com/348/williamcaslon.html">Linotype link.

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html