How much should a revival of a typeface look like the original asks William Berkson, creator of Williams Caslon, in this fascinating history of a famous typeface and of one type designer’s voyage of discovery.
ATF’s Caslon 540 is a beautifully conceived revival of some of the larger size Caslon designs. And Matthew Carter’s Big Caslon is an elegant interpretation of the very largest, highest contrast sizes. However, my interest was in the high readability and charm of the text size. And here it gets even more complicated, to the point where the name “Caslon” becomes almost more of a Rorschach test than the name of a clearly identifiable design.
Reading this remarkable story, I was reminded of Jorge Luis Borges’s observation that the modern writer who typed “Don Quixote” verbatim would have written a completely different story than that of Cervantes. In revivals, as in myth and fiction, context is everything.