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Printing History: William Caslon

William Caslon

William Caslon was born in 1692 in Cradley, Worcestershire, England.  In 1706 aged just 14, he undertook an apprenticeship as an engraver for a London based harness-maker.

In 1716, he set himself up as a self-employed engraver, and his early works included engraving government marks on gunlocks.  He was commissioned by London printers and booksellers, to undertake a printer’s font of Arabic in English format for a Psalter and a New Testament for oriental use.

It wasn’t long before Caslon was creating and cutting his own font designs, yet still modelled on the Dutch designs but more delicate and exotic in appearance.

In 1720, he designed the English Arabic typeface, and in 1722 produced Roman, Italic and Hebrew versions for the printer William Bowyer.  In 1725 he set-up his own typeface foundry and in 1726 produced the Roman typeface, later known as the Caslon type faced.  His typefaces became an instant success.  Then in 1734, Caslon produced a specimen page, illustrating forty-seven of his typefaces.

His lifelong work was culminated, when one of his typefaces, was used for “The Declaration of Independence,” of the USA in 1776.  Sadly he died in 1766, before seeing it in print.

Yet he left his mark, one that would carry on what he and his predecessors had started all those years ago… the age of printing…


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