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In 1794 Robert Thorne purchased the foundry of Thomas Cottrell, a former employee of the original William Caslon, which had been founded in 1757 when Cottrell and Joseph Jackson were fired in a wage dispute. By 1798 Thorne had replaced all of Cottrell’s types with his own designs and in 1801 was the first type founder to begin showing the fat face types. He went on to design many popular display typefaces. He also moved the foundry to Fann St. renaming it the Fann Street Foundry.
Upon Thorne’s death in 1820 the foundry was purchased at auction by William Thorowgood using money he had won in a lottery though he was never involved in the type founding business. Subsequently many of the types identified as Thorowgood's are actually the designs of Robert Thorne.