Clarendon is an English slab-serif typeface that was created in England by Robert Besley for Thorowgood and Co. (or Thorowgood and Besley.), a type company formerly known as the Fann Street Foundry until approximately 1838. The typeface was published in 1845 after Besley, an employee of the foundry since 1826, was made a partner in the firm. Due to its popularity, Besley registered the typeface under Britain's Ornamental Designs Act of 1842. The patent expired three years later, and other foundries were quick to copy it. Clarendon is considered the first registered typeface, with the original matrices and punches remaining at Stephenson Blake and later residing at the Type Museum, London. They were marketed by Stephenson Blake as Consort, though some additional weights (a bold and italics) were cut in the 1950s. It was named after the Clarendon Press in Oxford.
The font was used extensively by the government of the German Empire for proclamations during World War I, and was also common in wanted posters of the American Old West.
Craw Clarendon Bold was used by the United States National Park Service on traffic signs, but has been replaced by NPS Rawlinson Roadway. In 2008, the typeface was utilized extensively by the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain in the re-launch of their corporate identity. Via, the travel magazine of the American Automobile Association, uses the typeface for its logo and headline copy.
Versions of Clarendon can also be seen in the logotypes of corporations such as Sony, Pitchfork Media, Wells Fargo, the Spanish newspaper El País and the Swedish house manufacturer Älvsbyhus. The American game show Wheel of Fortune uses a modified bold version of Clarendon on its eponymous Wheel. The American rock band Switchfoot also utilizes a slightly distressed and altered version of the font for the band name on all of their albums and publications since the release of The Beautiful Letdown in 2003.
On television, Clarendon is used in the early seasons of the original The Electric Company on PBS, and Craw Clarendon Bold Condensed was used for the titles on NBC's Little House on the Prairie (TV series), which aired from 1974 to 1983.
Listed here, are some notable explorations. Designs for wood type were made from the mid-1840s on. The typeface was reworked by the Monotype Corporation foundry in 1935. Hermann Eidenbenz and Edouard Hoffmann cut a version based on Besley's original design in 1953. Freeman Craw drew the Craw Clarendon family, a once popular American version released by American Type Founders in 1955, with light, bold and condensed variants. Fortune (typeface), or Volta, a very modern view of Clarendon, was designed by Konrad Friedrich Bauer and Walter Baum for the Bauer Type Foundry, also in 1955. It features an italic in the medium weight. Aldo Novarese drew the Egizio family for the Nebiolo foundry, now Nebiolo Printech, in Turin, Italy in 1958. He included Clarendon-style italics in that family.
David Berlow, of the Font Bureau, expanded that same family and released it as Belizio in 1998. Ray Larabie, of Typodermic, released the Superclarendon family, with companion italics, in 2007. The Clarendon Text family, also with italics, was made by Patrick Griffin, of Canada Type, that same year. Sentinel, from Hoefler & Frere-Jones, another typeface family based on Clarendon with italics added, was designed in 2009. It has been featured heavily in President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign website advertisements. Canada Type's Patrick Griffin came back to expand his Clarendon family with Clarendon Wide in 2010.
In the late nineteenth century the basic Clarendon face was radically altered by foundries in the United States, resulting in the production of the French Clarendon type with enlarged block serifs. This development is usually recognized as the type used in circus posters and wanted notices in western movies. Other names are also used for this type. Jaspert's Encyclopedia of Typefaces refers to the type as Reversed Egyptian, while DeVinne calls it Italian and says "To be hated, it needs but to be seen." P. T. Barnum is an example of this typeface.