Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Printing History & Book Arts > 6. William Caslon

6.  William Caslon (1693-1766).  A Specimen by W. Caslon, Letter-Founder, Ironmonger-Row, Old-Street, London. London: W. Caslon, 1734. RBML, Book Arts Collection

Daniel Berkeley Updike wrote in his Printing Types, "In the class of types which appear to be beyond criticism from the point of view of beauty and utility, the original Caslon type stands first." William Caslon, an engraver, began his career as a typefounder in about 1720 by cutting a font of Arabic-language types for use by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In order to sign his name to a printed proof of these letters, he cut his name in a pica roman. These roman letters were so admired that he turned his attention to various other sizes of roman and italic, followed by Hebrew, black letter, Coptic and many other exotic types, as well as ornaments. He did not issue his first specimen until 1734-the date is printed at the end of the brevier Greek at the lower right corner. Shown here, this is the only known complete copy of this type specimen, with Caslon's Ironmonger-Row, Old-Street, London address. In the only other recorded copy, at the British Library, the line of ornaments at the bottom has been cut off.

Purchased with the American Type Founders Company Library & Museum, 1941

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