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Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Mar 24th, 2013. Artwork published in .
    Source: swallace99. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Selected and Abridged by Edmund Fuller. A Laurel Classic. Dell Books LC145, 1960


    • Caslon




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    6 Comments on “Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson

    1. Mar 24th, 2013  11:04 am

      This Caslon Italic is based on ATF’s Caslon 540 from 1902, which in turn goes back to William Caslon I’s eighteenth-century types.

      I tried to get as close as possible with digital fonts. The L–f combination in the image is obviously customized. So is the shortened ascender of the ‘h’.

      From top to bottom:
      Berthold Caslon 471
      Elsner+Flake’s Caslon 540
      Bitstream’s Caslon 540
      ITC Founder’s Caslon 42, Justin Howes (1998), with non-swashy ‘J’
      ITC Letraset Caslon Italic & Swashes, Freda Sack (1981), with non-swashy ‘J’

    2. Mar 24th, 2013  8:00 pm

      It’s not quite correct to call that last one ITC Caslon. When that was released in 1981, it was a Letraset face called Caslon Swashes and contained only the swash characters, intended to be used with Caslon 540 Italic, which had been carried by Letraset probably forever.

      The reason it’s listed as an ITC face is only because Letraset acquired ITC later on, and since then Letraset faces have been listed as part of ITC’s digital font library, even though they did not originate at ITC.

    3. Mar 25th, 2013  7:50 am

      Thank you, Mark. I had hoped you would chime in. For the Letraset–ITC question: Yes, that is why I wrote “digital fonts”. There is a Letraset version available, too, but that one has the swash alternates hidden away under incorrect codepoints. It was easier to create that setting with the OT version published by ITC.

      Now for the more interesting question: What did Milton Glaser use for this cover? If the date (1960) is correct, that’s too early for Letraset, certainly for the swashes. Of course, the letterforms were around in some form since the 18th century. But what is a likely model that was available to him?

    4. Mar 26th, 2013  3:11 am

      ATF issued a set of matching swatch characters for Caslon 540 in the 1920s. Letraset just copied them. Glaser could have worked from foundry type proofs or film settings from a Typositor or similar.

    5. Mar 27th, 2013  11:40 am

      I see. Thanks!

    6. Feb 27th, 2014  10:54 am

      James posted a specimen of Monotype’s Caslon Swashes.

      Caslon Swashes

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