More on Caslon

Made the right decision to hire a designer to do prepress work for 18th century historical fiction novel. Using Bickham Script for prologue, quotes at beginning of each chapter, and first letter of chapter alternate capitals.

Question: Have chosen Caslon as the main book font — will be done using Quark. We had originally decided to use Caslon Pro by Carol Twombly, but the designer already has Caslon 540 in her inventory.

Is there a significant difference between Caslon 540 and Caslon Pro?- Would 540 be appropriate for book publishing?



I think there is. Anyway Caslon 540 is been a design standard for book publishing. If you want to be historical you’ll need the Small Caps and Old Style figures fonts.

Sorry, I’m having problems loading the image. Final try: casloncomparison

Sorry, problems posting the image. A final try: cason

Ah, well at any rate here is Caslon 540. And here is Caslon 224 at ‘myfonts’.

What I meant was that the available digital versions of Caslon 540 are more suitable for display.

In the original metal foundry version, each size was different. It had optical compensation for each size so it was designed for text in the smaller sizes. All the digital Caslon 540s I’ve ever seen appear to be modeled after one of the larger metal sizes. It’s especially noticeable in the italics.

You can’t really see what text looks like in low res screen graphics very well, but here’s 10-point Caslon 540 at about 400%:


The top is Caslon 540 from a 1941 ATF catalog, the bottom one is Adobe’s digital version of Caslon 540. To really see the difference, it’s best to look at printed samples.

Very interesting; thanks!

Just a personal observation, but Baskerville might actually “jive” better with Bickham than would Caslon. Baskerville was himself an engraver, so the qualities of his letters would certainly mate well with an engraved script. Anyway, just a thought…


I think you’re right. Bickmann + Baskerville is probably a better choice. But again the question arrives: Which Baskerville?

I think Baskerville Classico italics are a good rendering of the original Baskerville faces.

I’m not very familiar with that version, but I have to show some preference for Storm’s Baskerville. It’s very complete and available in OpenType, plus there are (I think) optical weights. I have a printed specimen and it’s very nice!

Storm’s may be overkill—and in that case there’s Baskerville 1757 by Lars Bergquist which is nice, but a little stiffer.

Both of these have the great Baskerville italics.


Stormtype catalog is “recent” to me, so I usually stick to the classic foundries when I look for a classic face. Sorry, my fault, I know.

Storm’s Baskerville is really nice.

By the way, I suposse Zoe is a little bit puzzled with this switch to Baskerville, knowing that she made her previous decision based on the information given in this forum!

: (

Does 540 have the small caps and old style figures fonts?

And don’t miss the beautiful swashes!

Using the swashes from Bickham Script…
Bickham Script Swashes

One big difference between the two: Caslon 540 is a display face, not very good for text. Adobe Caslon is mainly a text face, not well suited to display work.

more important thing, Quark don’t handle OpenType Pro fonts features… So just basic character set in Quark, no lovely Small caps and so on as in Indesign :-)

Mark, were you thinking of Benguiat’s Caslon 224 as a display face. Caslon 540 was originally, at any rate, intended as a text face. Here is a comparison:

caslon comparison

caslon comparison