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Joseph Fry

(1728—1787) chocolate manufacturer and typefounder


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Typefounders. Joseph Fry, a Quaker physician, had sold cocoa as a Bristol apothecary. He established a typefoundry (1764, soon moved to London) with the printer William Pine and the Birmingham metalsmith Isaac Moore, who cut copies of Baskerville’s types until he left the firm in 1776/7. In 1782, Pine withdrew and Fry's sons acquired non-Latin, textura, and specialty types at the T. James (1685?–1736) sale, including historical treasures made for the London Polyglot Bible. With Baskerville's types out of fashion, the Frys imitated Caslon’s (claiming Caslon II himself mistook their type for his father's). The James purchases led to Edmund Fry's philological Pantographia (1799) and numerous new non-Latin types. In partnership with Isaac Steele, he introduced new romans and italics in 1805–10, belatedly reflecting the influence of Didot and Bodoni. Fry followed innovations at a distance, declaring ‘fancy’ and ‘anomalous’ advertising types ‘disgraceful’, but acquired an arabic from W. Martin in 1815 and a new script from Firmin Didot in 1821. The foundry, sold to Thorowgood in 1828, descended via T. B. Reed to Stephenson Blake. Many matrices survive at the Type Museum in London.

From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Bibliography.


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