William Caslon (1693-1766)
Caslon is regarded by many to be the greatest of English letter writers. In the 18th century, English printing was at a low ebb and was dependent on Holland for its types. Caslon changed all this and stopped the importation of Dutch type. Thus, Caslon heralded a turning point for English type-founding.
He started his career engraving government marks on gunlocks. A group of London printers and booksellers asked the young engraver to cut a font of Arabic of English size for a Psalter and a New Testament for Oriental use - it was hoped that the natives of newly-discovered lands would take up Christianity. Soon he was cutting his own font designs. Caslon types were actually modelled on Dutch type but were much more delicate and interesting. He went on to create a large number of 'exotic' typefaces.
The taste for Caslon spread to America, and Caslon was the type used for the Declaration of Independence of the USA in 1776. In the 1840s in Britain, there was a revival of Caslon typefaces. George Bernard Shaw insisted that only Caslon be used for all his books.
"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. (Updike 1922) "