Category Serif
Classification Transitional serif
Designer(s) John Baskerville
Foundry Deberny & Peignot
Variations John Baskerville
Mrs Eaves
Shown here Baskerville Ten by
František Štorm
The Folio Bible printed by Baskerville in 1763.
The 'Canada' wordmark

Baskerville is a transitional serif typeface designed in 1757 by John Baskerville (1706–1775) in Birmingham, England. Baskerville is classified as a transitional typeface, positioned between the old style typefaces of William Caslon, and the modern styles of Giambattista Bodoni and Firmin Didot.

The Baskerville typeface is the result of John Baskerville's intent to improve upon the types of William Caslon. He increased the contrast between thick and thin strokes, making the serifs sharper and more tapered, and shifted the axis of rounded letters to a more vertical position. The curved strokes are more circular in shape, and the characters became more regular. These changes created a greater consistency in size and form.

Baskerville's typeface was the culmination of a larger series of experiments to improve legibility which also included paper making and ink manufacturing. The result was a typeface that reflected Baskerville's ideals of perfection, where he chose simplicity and quiet refinement. His background as a writing master is evident in the distinctive swash tail on the uppercase Q and in the cursive serifs in the Baskerville Italic. The refined feeling of the typeface makes it an excellent choice to convey dignity and tradition.

In 1757, Baskerville published his first work, a collection of Virgil, which was followed by some fifty other classics. In 1758, he was appointed printer to the Cambridge University Press. It was there in 1763 that he published his master work, a folio Bible, which was printed using his own typeface, ink, and paper.

The perfection of his work seems to have unsettled his contemporaries, and some claimed the stark contrasts in his printing damaged the eyes. Abroad, however, he was much admired, notably by Fournier, Bodoni (who intended at one point to come to England to work under him), and Benjamin Franklin.

After falling out of use with the onset of the modern typefaces such as Bodoni, Baskerville was revived in 1917 by Bruce Rogers, for the Harvard University Press and released by Deberny & Peignot.


Visual Distinctive Characteristics

Characteristics of this typeface are:

lower case: square dot over the letter i. double storey a.

upper case: dropped horizontal element on A.


Hot Type versions

The following foundries offered versions of Baskerville:

Cold Type versions

As it had been a standard type for many years, Baskerville was widely available in cold type. Alphatype, Autologic, Berthold, Compugraphic, Dymo, Star/Photon, Harris, Mergenthaler, MGD Graphic Systems, and Varityper, Hell AG, Monotype, all sold the face under the name Baskerville, while Graphic Systems Inc. offered the face as Beaumont.[3]

Digital Versions

Digital versions are available from Linotype, URW++, Monotype, and Bitstream as well as many others. The Baskerville typeface was used as the basis for the Mrs Eaves typeface in 1996, designed by Zuzana Licko.


The font is used widely in documents issued by the University of Birmingham. A modified version of Baskerville is also prominently used in the Canadian government's corporate identity program—namely, in the 'Canada' wordmark.


  1. ^ Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983, ISBN 0-7137-1347-X, p. 15
  2. ^ MacGrew, Mac, American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4, p. 27.
  3. ^ Lawson, Alexander, Archie Provan, and Frank Romano, Primer Metal Typeface Identification, National Composition Association, Arlington, Virginia, 1976, pp. 34 - 35.
  • Lawson, Alexander S. (1990), Anatomy of a Typeface, Boston: Godine, ISBN 0879233338 .
  • Meggs, Philip B. & Carter, Rob (1993), Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, ISBN 0442007582 
  • Meggs, Philip B. & McKelvey, Roy (2000), Revival of the Fittest, New York: RC Publications, ISBN 1883915082 .
  • Updike, Daniel Berkley (1980) [1937], Printing Types Their History, Forms and Use, II (2nd ed.), New York: Dover Publications, ISBN 0486239292 .

External links

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  • BASKERVILLE (J.) — BASKERVILLE JOHN (1706 1775) Un des plus célèbres typographes anglais du XVIIIe siècle, John Baskerville ne s’adonna que tardivement à la typographie. Ni son éducation, ni ses débuts dans la vie active ne l’y prédisposaient. Après avoir fait… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Baskerville — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para el grupo musical, véase Baskerville (grupo musical). Ejemplo de tipografía Baskerville Baskerville es una tipografía con serif diseñada en 1757 por John Baskerville en Birmingham …   Wikipedia Español

  • Baskerville — typeface style, 1802 (the type was created in the 1750s), named for John Baskerville (1706 1775), British type founder and printer. The initial version were cut by John Handy under Baskerville s watchful eye. The result is the epitome of… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Baskerville —   [ bæskəvɪl], John, englischer Buchdrucker und Schriftkünstler, * Wolverley (Counties Hereford and Worcester) 28. 1. 1706, ✝ Birmingham 8. 1. 1775; gründete 1754 eine Druckerei und Schriftgießerei in Birmingham; schuf künstlerische Antiqua und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Baskerville — (spr. Bäßkerwill), John, geb. 1706 zu Walverley in der englischen Grafschaft Worcester, war erst Schreiblehrer, dann Lackirer, wendete sich aber seit 1750 der Schriftgießerei zu u. druckte selbst mit seinen Lettern zu Birmingham seit 1756 mehrere …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Baskerville — (spr. will), John, Buchdrucker und Schriftgießer, geb. 1706 zu Wolverley in Worcestershire, gest. 8. Jan. 1775 in Birmingham, wandte sich um 1750 der Buchdruckerei zu und stellte neue Lettern her, die den Typen von Elzevir und Plantin an die… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Baskerville — (Bäskerwill), John, 1706–1775, engl. Drucker, Vervollkommner der engl. Typographie im vorigen Jahrh …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Baskerville — [bas′kər vil] John 1706 75; Eng. printer & type designer …   English World dictionary

  • Baskerville — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Baskerville Ralph de Baskerville (vers 1075 1118) est le fils de Robert de Basqueville (aujourd hui Bacqueville en Caux, Seine Maritime, Haute Normandie)… …   Wikipédia en Français

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