English Egyptian

English Egyptian is our interpretation of William Caslon’s ‘Two Lines English Egyptian’ of 1816, arguably the first sans serif printing type to be sold commercially. In this context, ‘Two Lines English’ refers to the body size, namely an equivalent to two lines of ‘English’ type, or about 28pt. ‘Egyptian’ is the name of the type, and although the term would later be more generally associated with slab serif types, it here describes a sans serif.

Often seen as an expression of the spirit of the industrial revolution – a kind of ‘engineer’s letter’ – the origin of the sans serif is however not so simply resolved. It also has echoes of the incised geometrical characters of ancient Greece or Republican Rome. The neo-classical architect John Soane was a prominent user of these primary, elemental, sans serif letterforms in his drawings long before their appearance as printing types.

While the 1816 Caslon specimen only featured an incomplete set of uppercase letters (spelling the words W CASLON JUNR LETTERFOUNDER), the anonymous quality of the type has roots in the vernacular lettering found on buildings, engravings, lithographs and maps of the period, which we studied in order to revise, extend and complete the set with the necessary punctuation, numbers and diacritics.

Read more about Caslon’s Egyptian in James Mosley’s ‘The first sanserif type’ in the Abyme Revue.

  • Designed by John Morgan and Adrien Vasquez, 2011–17
  • Available in 1 style (uppercase only) from £240
  • Trial fonts are available on request