William Caslon, also known as William Caslon I (1692–1766-01-23) was an English gunsmith and designer of typefaces. He was born at Cradley, Worcestershire, and in 1716 started business in London as an engraver of gun locks and barrels, and as a bookbinder’s tool cutter. Having contact with printers, he was induced to fit up a type foundry, largely through the encouragement of William Bowyer. The distinction and legibility of his type secured him the patronage of the leading printers of the day in England and on the continent.
Caslon began his career as an apprentice to an engraver of gunlocks and barrels. In 1716 he opened his own engraving shop in London and soon began to make tools for bookbinders and silver chasers. When his work came to the attention of the printer John Watts, Caslon was given the task of cutting type punches for various presses in London. In 1720 he designed an “English Arabic” typeface used in a psalter and a New Testament. Two years later he cut excellent roman, italic, and Hebrew typefaces for the printer William Bowyer; the roman typeface, which was first used in 1726, later came to be called Caslon. The success of Caslon’s new typefaces in England was almost instantaneous, and, as a result, he received loans and sufficient trade to enable him to set up a complete typefoundry. From 1720 to 1780, few books were printed in England that did not use type from his foundry. Continue reading