Category Serif Classification Transitional serif Designer(s) John Baskerville Foundry Deberny & Peignot
Variations John Baskerville
Shown here Baskerville Ten by
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.
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:
- The original matrices were sold by Baskerville's widow and eventually ended up in the possession of Deberny & Peignot.
- Stephenson Blake cast the Fry Foundry version that was cut in 1795 by Isaac Morre.
- The Fry Foundry version was also sold by American Type Founders with an italic designed in 1915 by Morris Fuller Benton.
- Linotype's Baskerville was cut in 1923 by George W. Jones, though it was subsequently re-cut in 1936. A bold version was cut by Chauncey H. Griffith in 1939.
- Lanston Monotype's Baskerville was cut in 1923 under the direction of Stanley Morison. Italic and bold versions were cut by Sol Hess. These versions were modified slightly and then offered by Intertype.
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.
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.
- ^ 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
- ^ MacGrew, Mac, American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4, p. 27.
- ^ 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) , Printing Types Their History, Forms and Use, II (2nd ed.), New York: Dover Publications, ISBN 0486239292 .
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