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Are you sure you don't just like bolder types? John seems to.
Letterpress has many examples of bold, Balloon comes to mind. It is not as if letterpress is unable to display heavy weights in ways other than . . . inferior presswork.
I would like to suggest that Caslon is a light typeface. Looking at other historical "letterpress" models you will find that to be true. If Caslon wanted a bolder type he would have left more metal on the surface of the punch.
Caslon's guide for his hands and eye were smoked proofs. "A progression of smoked proofs." Not a "singular proof" after he had finished cutting the punch.
If he were using dampened papers with globules of ink as his proofing medium have you any idea how much work that would be? Caslon would still be cutting. That method would require many strikes, broken punches and a typeface inferior to the great type face he produced.
Progressive proofs are essential. Think digital?
Caslon was not "retracting gain" as he cut his punches. In other words, Caslon was not a prophet.
To borrow your words. That is reality!