Caslon question + Numismatic Typography, Coin Design resources?

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Patrick King's picture
Joined: 29 Apr 2008 - 2:18pm
Caslon question + Numismatic Typography, Coin Design resources?

A friend of mine, the sculptor Amy Kann is known for her stunning bas relief work and as a result designs her share of coins, medals and plaques involving type as well as portraits in which the subject's name is a critical typographic element. She's asked me to collaborate with her on a project.

The client requested Caslon as close to the 18th Century version as possible. The debates here and elsewhere about the "real" Caslon

There's a great conversation here: but I can't seem to find a straight answer. Does anyone have a new take on this age old question?

My second question is about typography and coin design, of which I've found scant little in googling "coin design numismatic typography" and similar phrases. Surely a typophile out there has done a study on the subject. A straight search came up with little, but an image search scored some beautiful results.

Any typophiles have a special interest in the topic? Thanks in advance. And check out Amy's work. It's great stuff.



David Yoon's picture
Joined: 17 Apr 2006 - 7:58pm

On Caslon, the reason you didn't find a "straight answer" is because there isn't one universal answer. If you print sloppily inked letterpress on soft, damp paper using foundry type that closely approximates Caslon's, you will get a result that looks like typical eighteenth-century printing. If you use a different technology, you have to make choices about which qualities you will emulate. Founder's Caslon is the closest digital design to the outlines of Caslon's own foundry type, but it's "cleaner" than the normal eighteenth-century ink spread or the texture of the paper, both of which Caslon may have allowed for in designing his type. Is that "real" or not? That depends on you.

As for coin design, I don't know what your question is. The letter and number punches formerly used in making coin dies were certainly similar in nature to the punches used in making type matrices - I expect it would be interesting to know whether they were ever made by the same people. Medals are different, after the invention of the Janvier lathe - the lettering is often modeled rather than cut.