Richard Austin (punchcutter)

Richard Austin (1756–1832) was an English punchcutter. He was the original cutter of the typefaces now known as Bell, Scotch Roman, and Porson.[1] Born in London 4 August 1756 and christened at St Luke's Old Street, he studied seal, die and copper-plate engraving as an apprentice to John Phillips near Finsbury Square. He married Phillips' daughter Sarah and set up on his own about 1786. He was hired by John Bell's British Letter Foundry in 1788 as a punch-cutter, to imitate Didot's 1782 types "de la troisième manière," cut by Pierre Vafflard to F-A Didot's designs. Bell sold his interest in the foundry to S & C Stephenson.[2] When the foundry closed in 1797, Austin bought in his own punches and sold strikes to Fry & Steele, Figgins, and Caslon. Strikes were even sold in North America. Austin cut Greek types for Cambridge University Press in 1806-8, following designs provided by the famous drunken master Richard Porson. He probably also cut the Sarcophagus Greek that preceded it. Austin then provided strikes to William Miller's foundry in Edinburgh & Alexander Wilson's Sons' foundry in Glasgow, creating the types now known as Scotch, before founding his own Imperial Letter Foundry in London in 1815, with his son George (who had been his apprentice until 1805). The first Miller Specimen of 1809 is now lost (The University of Vermont holds the 1811 Specimen). Wilson's earliest specimen showing the improved types is dated 1812. Richard Austin died circa 20 August 1832, leaving the foundry to his son George, whom many credited with the innovations in type designs manifest in the Scotch types. Austin's other sons were John Phillips Austin, a music engraver, and Richard Turner Austin (1781-1842), a painter (member of the Royal Academy) and commercial wood engraver.



  1. ^ Johnston, Alastair. (2013). Transitional Faces: The Lives & Work of Richard Austin, type-cutter & Richard Turner Austin, wood-engraver. Poltroon Press. p. 400. ISBN 0-918395-32-1.
  2. ^ Mosley, James. (1990). S & C Stephenson Specimen & Sale Catalogue 1796-7. Printing Historical Society. pp. unpaginated. ISBN 0900003-10-3.
  3. ^ Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson, The Encyclopedia of Type Faces, Blandford Press Ltd., 1983 (pg. 14)
  4. ^ Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson, The Encyclopedia of Type Faces, Blandford Press Ltd., 1983 (pg. 203)

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