[UK] Alexander Wilson

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1. Overview

1749 - 1850. Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Two-Waters, Dublin. Closed and split in 1850. The London (ex-Glasgow) and Two-Waters branches were purchased by Caslon & Sons (the main line of the Caslon foundry) just as they became H. W. Caslon & Co. The Edinburgh and Dublin branches were purchased by Marr and continued until at least the 20th century.

Alexander Wilson (1714-1786) worked first with John Baine, who later set up on his own in London ( John Baine (London)) and with his grandson first in Edinburgh and then in Philadelphia ( John Baine & Gransdon (Philadelphia)). Curiously, Reed neglects to give his date of death. The Wikipedia article on him does, though (but it cites him as "Alexander Wilson (astronomer)", emphasizing his scientific achievements before his typefounding success.

1752, moves to Glasgow {Patrick Wilson}. First known specimen to bear the name "Glasgow Letter Foundry" was 1772 {Reed}

Succeeded by son (Andrew Wilson, d. 1828) and grandson (also Alexander Wilson).

On death of Andrew Wilson, management continued by his sons, Alexander Wilson and Patrick Wilson {Reed} (who wrote the biography presented to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1789).

1832. Established branch in Edinburgh. {Reed}

1834. (1) Glasgow branch moved to London. (2) Established branch in Two-Waters, Hertfordshire. {Red}

1837. London branch closed by strike. {Moseley}

1840. Established (second) branch in Dublin.

1845. Bankrupt by this date. {Reed, Moseley}

Reed says that the London (ex-Glasgow) and Two-Waters foundries were auctioned in 1850 and that Caslon got the "principal part" of the matrices. Moseley says (of the London foundry alone) that the materials "were dispersed amongst Bullen, Caslon, Dr. James Marr [see below] and possibly, Figgins.

Alexander Wilson (grandson) "remained for some time with Mr. Caslon as joint manager." {Reed}

1850. James Marr acquires Edinburgh and Dublin branches. Runs them with John Gallie, manager of the Edinburgh branch. {Reed}

1853. James Marr & Co. Branches in London, Edinburgh, Dublin. {Reed}

1872. Marr Typefounding Company Limited. {Mosely, p. 14}

I'm not yet sure of the end of Marr; Mosely identifies the location of their offices through 1904.


Moseley, James, Justin Howes, and Nigel Roche. Founder's London A-Z. London: The [European] Friends of the St. Bride's Printing Library, 1998.)

Reed, Talbot Baines. A History of the Old English Letter Foundries. London: Elliot Stock, 1887.

Wilson, Patrick. "Biographical Account of Alexander Wilson, M. D. late Professor of Practical Astronomy in Glasgow." Read at the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1789-02-02. Published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 10: 279–97. Reprinted in The Edinburgh Journal of Science. Vol. 10, No. 1 (Jan., 1829): 1-17.


2. Type-Makers Employed

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