“Irish Five per Cent. Annuities” receipt (1804)
Receipt found in Stafford Archives connected to St Michael’s School in Penkridge Staffordshire, printed by John March, Tower-Hill, in ca. 1800. Having looked at a Caslon specimen sheet, the blackletter seems to be the Two-Line Great Primer Black, with the text set in roman and italic styles, maybe from the Great Primer or English sizes.
- Ephemera (746)
- Business/Finance (415)
5 Comments on ““Irish Five per Cent. Annuities” receipt (1804)”
Here’s a detail from William Caslon’s Specimen of Printing Types from 1785. Judging from the A, it seems you’re spot on about the blackletter.
Note the use of the special symbol for “per” which looks like a lowercase p with visible upstroke and a horizontal cross stroke that runs through stem and bowl.
Keith Houston (Shady Characters) points out that this character is included in Unicode as PER SIGN (U+214C). Here are the glyphs from a few digital fonts that support it. From left to right: Andron (SIAS), Everson Mono (Evertype), Iowan Old Style (Bitstream/ParaType), Scotch Modern and Figgins Sans (Shinntype), and Pragmata (FSD). Kudos!
The Caslon Two-Line Great Primer Black has a fascinatingly confusing history: there’s some discussion of its heritage in Carter & Ricks’ edition of Rowe Mores, Type Specimen Facsimiles 2, Morison and Carter’s John Fell, and James Mosley’s 1981 article on the eighteenth-century Caslon specimen books. Apparently it’s based on a cluster of similar older typefaces, the original perhaps from Paris or Rouen and dating back to around 1504. One was used by Wynkyn de Worde, and Plantin and the type foundries of Voskens, and James in London, had similar matrices. (Mores claims the latter had one set of matrices, lost them somehow, and then bought up another set by buying the Grover foundry; in the interim apparently they had to subcontract to Caslon…) The second James one is shown in a specimen of 1782 Carter and Ricks reprint: it has an extra spike on top of the arch of the 'h’ (like on the Great Primer size above, which was done by William Caslon II, and is also a copy of an earlier design). Plantin’s (which he called Moyen Canon Flamand) doesn’t have that spike, so maybe that was Caslon’s model. Or maybe it’s just one later replacement character. Who knows? Anyway, apparently Caslon’s punches survive at St Bride’s, and Plantin’s matrices at the Plantin-Moretus Museum as set MA-132. Meanwhile, the Fry foundry (which was notorious for copying Caslon’s romans and italics extremely carefully, and Baskerville’s too) had a terrifyingly similar one. When Edmund Fry put the foundry up for sale on Valentine’s Day 1828 he said that was one they’d cut, and I think Alfred F. Johnson concluded that was correct, but there are some other unlikely claims in Fry’s account. (I don’t know if Fry’s survived into the Type Archive collection.) I get the feeling you’d have to compare specimens character by character to tell them all apart. If you’re getting confused at this point, you’re not the only one…
Incidentally, before posting that I should have pointed out that the Fry specimen (1787) has the same arrangement and text of the blackletter specimens as Caslon’s (1785), literally line-by-line. There’s some discussion of Fry’s copying Caslon’s specimens in Alastair Johnston’s Alphabets to Order, but I can’t remember exactly what (it’s not discussed in Chambers’ annotated edition of the final Fry specimen). Differences? I can see Fry’s has a different ct ligature and Caslon has a different 'A’ on the Great Primer size. (If you flip back through the specimen, the knock-off Baskerville types are numbered '1' and the knock-off Caslons '2'. The Frys use the same specimen text the Caslons had been using for fifty years at this time there, too, funnily enough.)
Here’s a compilation image of all the two line great primer blackletters knocking around the UK. It would make a fun research project trying to tease out the differences between them, but I’m not fool enough to try from scans! (As examples of the traps that lie in wait for the unwary there, take a look at the two hs on the Caslon 1796 specimen to see the randomisation effect of unreliable casting.) I should also add that although Mosley (1981) attributed the Caslon version to William Caslon I (and he had custody of the punches at the time to examine) Johnson Ball’s biography (which Mosley has sometimes disagreed with) suggested that six Caslon blacks were purchased from an earlier foundry.