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TYPO-L  August 2001

TYPO-L August 2001

Subject:

Caslon Old Face released

From:

Justin Howes <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Justin Howes <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 1 Aug 2001 16:40:23 +0100

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I hope that this rather long message won't be read as a blatant self-promotion from an occasional member of this list: it's intended merely to draw attention to a series of Caslon Old Face types which may be of interest to those looking for an historically authentic typeface to use on their computers. In fact, it's definitely one for typo-l members!
 
I've just released a digital reconstruction of the complete series of Caslon Old Face fonts on http://www.hwcaslon.com. The new series of 68 fonts completes and complements the series launched in '96 by ITC as ITC Founder's CaslonT, and includes all of the missing sizes required for fine typography, as well as revised versions of the designs in the ITC release. It is now possible for the first time ever to buy and download a complete Caslon online, with all the ligatures, long esses and other special characters needed for historic revival projects.

The Founders CaslonT project represents a massive investment of time reconstructing a series of types which had been in almost continuous use since it was first cut by William Caslon in the 1720s, but which disappeared in all but name with the onset of photo typesetting systems in the 1960s. The complete family comprises 68 digital fonts copied from Caslon's originals. Rather than sanitising the qualities which make early types worth reviving in the first place, the aim in making the digital fonts was to make a facsimile copy of the originals - faults and all.

Because each size of Caslon Old Face as originally cut was an original type in its own right (the 10-point was not just the 12-point made a bit smaller), the digital fonts include equivalents for 14 sizes of the metal and wood type: at 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 22, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 60, 72-point, as well as a Poster size. If you want to set something in 'real' Caslon on the computer, you use the 12-point design for 12-point text, the 14-point design for 14-point text, etc., etc. This is actually the opposite of the approach taken in Adobe Caslon, designed by Carol Twombly around 1990 as a single master design which attempts to synthesise five of the original text sizes. In my own (partial?) view, retaining differences in design across different sizes has helped create a satisfying series of types, richer in texture than designs based on a single master design, and still with something of the vagaries and beauties inherent in punchcutting and letterpress printing.

Where possible, the type was digitised from sharp new proofs from the metal type. For some characters that wasn't possible, if I didn't have the type, so a variety of artwork, whatever was available, was used: old proofs, well-printed old documents, etc. In general, the digitised type has the weight of sharply printed type, and will suit most printing requirements, including polymer.

The entire series of 14 sizes is available in two packs, Caslon Text and Caslon Display, each priced at $199.95. Until the end of 2001 there is a 10 per cent discount on the price of both packs if bought at the same time, bringing the cost down to $359.91 (about 250 sterling). There is also an introductory pack, Caslon 1776, priced at just $29.95, refundable when you buy the Caslon Text pack. Each of the packs comes with the Caslon Ornaments font, a selection of some of Caslon's best ornament designs. The packs are:

1. Founders CaslonT 1776 ($29.95, see http://hwcaslon.com/catp1.asp), so-called because it contains a digital reconstruction of the text type used by Philadelphia printer John Dunlap in 1776 for the first-ever printing of the United States' Declaration of Independence, is an affordable introduction to Caslon. The pack has everything necessary for 'period' text setting in 14-point Caslon Old Face, including small capitals, long esses, and swash characters. Use it for fun - or wherever a robust text face with extended ligatures and special characters is required. Purchasers of Caslon 1776 receive a $29.95 credit when ordering Caslon Text.

2. Founders CaslonT Text ($199.95, see http://hwcaslon.com/catp2.asp) includes Caslon Old Face in a series of five optical sizes, for use at 8, 10, 12, 14 and 18-point, each with small capitals, long esses and swash characters. Purchasers of Caslon 1776 receive a $29.95 credit when ordering Caslon Text.

3. Founders CaslonT Display ($199.95, see http://hwcaslon.com/catp3.asp) includes Caslon Old Face in a series of five optical sizes, for use at 22, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 60, and 72-point, each with small capitals, long esses and swash characters. There's also a Poster size, in roman only and without small capitals.
 
The fonts are available in Adobe Type 1 format for Mac and PC, and in Truetype format for the PC. Beta versions of all the fonts are also available in OpenType format at no extra cost. Support for the special features of the OpenType fonts (such as small capitals, fractions, and an extensive ligature table for long esses, a feature not available in any other OpenType version of Caslon) is currently limited to Adobe's InDesign program. For those who havn't yet experienced the potent combination of InDesign and Opentype, we have a Word template which makes using Caslon's ligatures, and historically correct long-esses, very easy. Click of a button, and Caslon becomes Caflon...

Depending on the font format chosen, the whole series comprises up to 68 font files. Each 'design size' of the fonts comprises two core fonts (roman and italic, complete with ligatures and long esses), a small caps font (for small caps), a roman extension font (mainly for nut fractions), and an italic extension font (mainly for swash capitals and other alternate forms). The Poster size is in roman only, and therefore doesn't come with the italic or italic extension fonts. The character sets (listed in full at http://www.hwcaslon.com/charset.pdf ) are based closely on Windows and Macintosh defaults, although a handful of rarely-used characters have had to be omitted from the core fonts in order to make space for ligatures and long esses.

Thank you for your patience: for more, please look at http://www.hwcaslon.com

Justin Howes

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