Caslon Italian Collection

Perhaps the strangest and ultimate example of experimentation in letterforms during the early nineteenth century was the Italian. Introduced by Caslon in 1821, it reverses the fat face’s stress—thins becomes thicks and thicks become thins—turning typographic norms on their heads. This new version extends the forms into new territory: a lowercase, an italic, and another one of the more unusual ideas of the time, the reverse italic or contra. Its limited success did not deter the typefounders from making another reverse stress form; the French Antique was less radical, but more commercially successful.

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