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English 1766

10 Weights + Italics. PRO

English 1766 is a new font in 20 styles inspired by the Quintessentially British font, Caslon. English 1766 was created following a period of intensive research, including; the examination of hundreds of historical specimen pages with printed Caslon foundry type — in multiple sizes and conditions — and the study of more recent digital revivals. English 1766 is not a historical revival of Caslon, but rather a contemporary interpretation of a classic design. Historical information

Specimen

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From £45.00

English 1766: Key Features: Sharp triangular serifs, Large x-height, Advanced language support, Extensive weight range (20 styles), Swash characters, Small Caps, Multiple number systems, Expansive Ligature set.

Historical specimen, sample pages. Letterpress printed.

Caslon 540, 96 + 120 point. ATF Specimen Reference.

William Caslon (born 1692, died 1766). Portrait engraving reference: Mergenthaler Linotype Company. Specimen Book of Linotype Faces, page.22. Brooklyn, NY: Mergenthaler Linotype Company, published c. 1939.

Background information

The rise of William Caslon, the greatest of English letter-founders, stopped the importation of Dutch types; and so changed the history of English type-cutting, that after his appearance the types used in England were most of them cut by Caslon himself, or consisted of fonts modelled on the style which he made popular. His work marks a turning-point in English type-founding, so I shall outline briefly what he stood for in the history of English types. William Caslon was born in the year 1692 at Cradley, Worcestershire, near Halesowen in Shropshire, and his baptism is entered in the parish register of Halesowen as ‘child of George Casselon by Mary his wife.’ Tradition has it that the surname was originally Caslona, after an Andalusian town, whence in 1688 William Caslon’s father came to England.

Caslon as a lad was apprenticed to an engraver of ornamental gunlocks and barrels in London. In 1716 he set up a shop of his own there, where he did silver-chasing & also cut tools for bookbinders. John Watts (a partner of the second Tonson) was accustomed to employ him to cut letterings for bindings—and sometimes type-punches. About 1720, William Bowyer the elder is said to have taken Caslon to James’ workshop to initiate him into letter-founding, and Bowyer his son-in-law Bettenham, and Watts eventually advanced money to enable Caslon to set up a foundry of his own. The only good foundries at that time were those of Oxford Press, of Grover, and of James. In the same year Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge engaged Caslon to cut a font of Arabic of English size, for a Psalter and a New Testament for Oriental use — ultimately printed respectively in 1725 and 1727. This he did, and the story runs that he cut letters of his own name in pica roman, and printed it at the bottom of a proof of his Arabic. This roman letter as so greatly admired that Caslon was persuaded to cut a font of pica roman and italic; and in the year 1722, with Bowyer’s encouragement, he cut the English fonts of roman, italic, and hebrew used in Bowyer’s folio 1726 edition of Selden’s works. Caslon’s beautiful Pica ‘Black’ was cut about 1733. Several other of his ‘exotic’ types appeared before 1734. In accomplishing all this, Caslon had been from the first effectively backed; and he ended with a complete foundry, which by his own labour and some discriminating later purchases became the best in England.

His types were also very largely bought by printers abroad. ‘He arrived,’ says Mores, ‘to that perfection so that may, without fear of contradiction, make the assertion that a fairer specimen cannot be found in Europe; that is, not in the World.’ When Caslon’s first specimen appeared, his reputation was made. His subsequent history is largely the record of the different fonts which he cut. Though Caslon began his foundry in 1720, it was not until 1734 that he issued this specimen-sheet, which exhibited the results of fourteen years of labour. It shows various fonts of types, all cut by Caslon except the Canon roman, which came from Andrews (a ‘descendant’ of the Moxon foundry’); the English Syriac, cast from matrices used for the Paris Polygot Bible of Le Jay, and a pica Samaritan cut by Dummers, a Dutchman. A reprint of this specimen, but with a change of imprint, appeared in an edition of Chambers’ Cyclopædia in 1738, and a note accompanying it says: ‘The above were all cast in the foundry of Mr. W. Caslon, a person who, though not bred to the art of letter-founding, has, by dint of genius, arrived at an excellently in it unknown hitherto in England, and which even surpasses any Demibold of the kind done in Holland or elsewhere.’

Caslon was joined in his business by his son, William II, in 1742, and they constantly enlarged their stock of types, both roman and ‘learned.’ It was apropos of this expansion that a rather startling phrase occurs in Ames’ account of their foundry. ‘The art,’ he says, ‘seems to be carried to its greatest perfection by Mr. William Caslon, and his son, who besides type of all manner of living languages now by him, has offered to perform the same for the dead, that can be recovered, to the satisfaction of any gentleman desirous of the same.’ Fournier, writing (no too accurately) in 1766, says: ‘England has few foundries, but they are all well equipped with all kinds of types. The principal ones are those of Thomas Cottrell at Oxford, James Watson at Edinburgh, William Caslon & Son at London, and John Baskerville at Birmingham, the last two deserve special attention. The types in Caslon’s foundry has been cut for the most part by his son with much cleverness and neatness. The specimens which were published of them in 1749 contain many different kinds of types.’ A contemporary print of Caslon’s foundry shows four casters at work, a rubber (Joseph Jackson) and a dresser (Thomas Cottrell), and some boys breaking off the type-metal jets. Both Jackson and Cottrell afterwards became eminent type founders themselves. Caslon seems to have been a ‘tender master,’ and he was a kindly, cultivated man. In his Chiswell Street house he had a concert room, and within it an organ: and there he entertained his friends at monthly concerts of chamber music. I have seen the attractive old rooms where these musical parties were held in the building in Chiswell Street — since pulled down, to be replaced by a more convenient structure. William Caslon the elder (who has thrice married) died in London in 1766, at the age of seventy-four.

The stock of his foundry about the time of his death may be seen from his specimen of 1763. Caslon II (1720–1778), succeeded him at his death, and maintained the place the house had won for itself. William Caslon III (1754–1833), who had a son William (1781–1869), disposed of his interest in 1792 to his mother, and Elizabeth (Rowe) Caslon, the widow of his brother Henry. The latter lady, whose partner was Nathaniel Catherwood, also had a son, Henry Caslon (1786–1850). Together with John James Catherwood, with Martin Livermore, and alone, he continued the house, which finally descended to the last of the family, Henry William Caslon (1814–1874). Under the style of H. W. Caslon & Co. the business was taken over, on his death by his manager, Thomas White Smith, whose sons ultimately assumed the name of Caslon, the foundry remaining in their hands to-day.

Extracts from a chapter on English Types, 1500–1800, by Daniel Berkeley Updike, The Merrymount Press, Boston, USA, in his recent treatise on ‘Printing Types, Their History, Forms & Use’. H. W. Caslon & Co. LTD. The Caslon Letter Foundry, 82–83 Chiswell Street, London EC1, February 1924. Caslon Old Face Roman & Italic. Philip Wilson Publishers Limited, ISBN 0 85667 075 8.

End.

William Caslon’s family grave at St Luke, Old Street, London. Photo: A2-TYPE © All rights reserved.