What does “Pica” mean in the name of a typeface?

I’m wondering what pica means in the following context -also view Pica Roman n°2 from this article, Pica Hole font, and IM Fell DW Pica font:

James Mosley summarises [Caslon’s] early work: “Caslon’s pica…was based very closely indeed on a pica roman and
italic that appears on the specimen sheet of the widow of the
Amsterdam printer Dirck Voskens, c.1695, and which Bowyer had used for
some years. Caslon’s pica replaces it in his printing from
1725…Caslon’s Great Primer roman, first used in 1728, a type that was
much admired in the twentieth century, is clearly related to the Text
Romeyn of Voskens, a type of the early seventeenth century used by
several London printers and now attributed to the punch-cutter Nicolas
Briot of Gouda.”4 Mosley also describes several other Caslon faces
as “intelligent adaptations” of the Voskens Pica

I have a doubt that it talks about the measure’s unit.


The term “pica” refers to the size of the font.

Long before type fonts had sizes in standardized (more or less) units, the sizes had names.

  • Pica is roughly equivalent to 12 pt expressed in today’s terms.
  • Royal was reserved exclusively for the King’s use. (Proclamations, Wanted posters, etc.) It was roughly equal to our 72 pt size

  • Agate is still used in some classified advertising. Agate is 14 lined/inch. and is 5½ points.

The names varied as well as the sizes from country to country.

Even after the size was standardized to be 1/72nd of an inch (roughly-it complains irrationally.) There was some disagreement until we settled on a digital point size definition.

Edit: Here’s a definitive list Traditional Type size names

Source : Link , Question Author : Webwoman , Answer Author : curious

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