In 1716 William Caslon started business in London as an engraver of gun locks and barrels and as a bookbinder’s tool cutter. In 1720 he set up the Caslon Foundry, which became the leading English type-foundry of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The distinction and legibility of his type secured him the patronage of the leading printers of the day in England and Europe. Caslon’s typefaces were immediately popular and used for many important printed works, including the first printed version of the United States Declaration of Independence.
William Caslon died in 1766 and Caslon typefaces fell out of favour until there was a revival in the mid-19th century as part of the British Arts and Crafts movement. For many years a common rule of thumb of printers and typesetters was “when in doubt use Caslon.”
Caslon & Co. spent 282 years in London’s EC1 district, occupying premises in Chiswell Street, Aylesbury Street, and Bakers Row before moving in 2002 to its current location in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.
The company remains a family business, now titled Caslon Ltd., supplying products to printers.