Type ID c.1884

Hi all, this is my first post, so I hope I'm doing everything right.

My late grandmother had this book entitled "Humorous Poetry", and since there's no copyright / colophon, I'd be really interested in help in finding more about the book and the typeface used for the body copy. The book is a collection of poetry (from Chaucher and the like)... I found an archived copy of it, with the copyright date (mine has the copyright page missing) at c.1884. Can I assume this was (or close to) the publication date?

I've attached a specimen of the font and I also included a photo of the cover for interest's sake. The floral capitals and embellishments on the cover are really neat.



Hi Fionn, I think that the body copy is Caslon:
Though, saying that, there are a few different cuts of this font, so perhaps someone out there will be able to specify which, if indeed it is Caslon.

That was my first thought too — the italic J with the crossbar threw me off, none of the Caslon's I looked at had that feature. Also, the specimen in the book has old style numerals.

My guess was more Baskerville or a related face. The italics are particular. For example...


The proportions are not 100% but one differentiator with Caslon is the lower case h. In Baskerville it ends out, in Caslon it ends in.

I would also note that so many Caslon/Baskerville faces do not carry the classic italics but have modernized them considerably. Go for the old ones - they're delightful!


This is Baskerville:

This is Caslon:

This is Caslon:
It’s Adobe Caslon, which is the only one I know of with an italic ‘h’ like that.

My guess was more Baskerville
Nope. Not the typical open ‘g’.

Jan, it makes no sense being Adobe Caslon, since this text is visibly older than digital typesetting, and you can see it's metal type. But Caslon nonetheless.

I was replying to Kelsey.
The example for This is Caslon: is Adobe Caslon.

Ah, ok, sorry there. My bad ;P

You're right Jan...

These additional identifying characteristics check out for Caslon:
1. cropped apex on 'A' (harder to make out in the metal version, but I assume it's there)
2. bowl curve of the 'p' overlaps the stem (although I'm not sure that's unique to Caslon)
3. long serifs on the middle arm of 'E'
4. large loop on italic 'k'

There are others but I'm sold.

Thanks for making me look a little harder :)


Interesting, thanks!

Speaking of printing methods — does anyone know how this text would've been printed?

It's definitely handsetting, although I'm not particularly familiarized with the specific methods used on this work. From what I can see, although pretty might the book be, the choice of paper and it's treatment might have not been the best, but that is as far as I can tell.