William Caslon was born in the village of Cradley, in Worcestershire,
England. He was taken in as an apprentice engraver in London at
the age of 13; by age 24 he had become a successful independent
engraver. In 1720, Caslon began his career in type design by accepting
a commission to create a typeface for the New Testament in Arabic.
His subsequent roman typeface was an instant success, and set an
example for beauty and readability for all later type. Caslon expanded
his business into Britains first major type foundry, moving,
in 1737, into the Chiswell Street Foundry, where his family would
continue in the trade for over 120 years.
Caslon type fell into disuse at the start of the 19th century.
But in 1844, Charles Whittingham initiated a Caslon revival by using
the typeface to create an archaic effect for the Chiswick Press
publication of The Diary of Lady Willoughby. This revival was taken
up in America by L.J. Johnson, who copied the Caslon face in 1858,
and sold it under the name Old Style. Though often criticized,
the Caslon typeface remains one of the most popular of all time.