THE RARE BOOK AND
MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

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44 William Caslon 1692-1766
A Specimen
London, William Caslon, 1734
Trained as an engraver, William Caslon was not only an artist but also a superior craftsman whose work marks a turning point in English type-founding. Impressed with his punches for bookbinders, the English printers William Bowyer, the elder, and John Watts advanced money to Caslon to set up a foundry in 1720; at the time, besides the foundry at Oxford University Press, there were only two foundries of any consequence in England. By 1730 Caslon was already a leading type founder in London, but it was not until 1734 that he issued his first specimen sheet; this copy is from the American Type Founders Company Library. Eight varieties of it are known, but the earliest, bearing the Ironmonger-Row address, is known in only two copies, of which this is one. D. B. Updike, the printer and historian of printing types remarked, "Caslon types are...so beautiful in mass, and above all so legible and 'common-sense,' that they can never be disregarded, and I doubt if they will ever be displaced."
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