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Identify a 17th or 19th century blackletter font?

Go to solution Solved by Kevin Thompson,

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Hi everyone,

I'm currently evaluating a late 17th-century source on varnishing and lacquering. 

EDIT: The source is one of the several known editions of 'A Treatise of Japaning [Sic] and Varnishing Being a Compleat Discovery of Those Arts', by John Stalker and George Parker, published in 1688, Oxford. 

One of the editions of this source that I'm studying has two title pages, which is quite odd.

One title page looks similar to the other editions known however, the second title page uses a font which makes it a little bit suspicious. It uses a font which is not often used during the 17th century and I have the impression that it might be more of a 19th century font. 

Is here anyone who could help me identify this font? And if (at all) possible, situate it in time and/or region? 

If not, can someone suggest me some good readings on 19th century fonts? 

Thank you!


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  • Solution

Caslon Text, a blackletter by William Caslon, seems to match your sample, and first appeared in about 1734 (here’s a link to a sample from the following year):


It was revived in the 19th century, first as Priory Text, then as Cloister Black:


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  • very interesting! 1
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Good point, Riccardo.

So, if Caslon’s version is early 18th century, the second title page may date from only 50 years or so after the publication of the book.

And what was Caslon’s source for Caslon Text? It may have existed in some other form (probably wood type) that was contemporary with the book’s publication date (1688), and Caslon merely adapted it and gave it a name for his own foundry.

I’m afraid using the typeface by itself to date the second title page isn’t a sure thing....

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Hi Kevin and Riccardo,

thank you so much! Really interesting.

So far I've read that the Caslon blackletter was inspired on the Cloister black letter, which dates back to the 15th c. and remained quite popular in England throughout the 17th century. Caslon apparently 'revived' the interest in this font due to his new design. 

I'm afraid Kevin might be right when stating it is difficult to connect this font to a specific period in time...unless someone else has another opinion on this matter :)


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