19 Facts About Baskerville


Baskerville is a serif typeface designed in the 1750s by John Baskerville in Birmingham, England, and cut into metal by punchcutter John Handy.

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Baskerville is classified as a transitional typeface, intended as a refinement of what are now called old-style typefaces of the period, especially those of his most eminent contemporary, William Caslon.

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Baskerville's typefaces remain very popular in book design and there are many modern revivals, which often add features such as bold type which did not exist in Baskerville's time.

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Baskerville's typeface was part of an ambitious project to create books of the greatest possible quality.

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Baskerville was a wealthy industrialist, who had started his career as a writing-master and carver of gravestones, before making a fortune as a manufacturer of varnished lacquer goods.

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At a time when books in England were generally printed to a low standard, using typefaces of conservative design, Baskerville sought to offer books created to higher-quality methods of printing than any before, using carefully made, level presses, a high quality of ink and very smooth paper pressed after printing to a glazed, gleaming finish.

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Baskerville had clearly considered the topic of ideal letterforms for many years, since a slate carved in his early career offering his services cutting tombstones, believed to date from around 1730, is partly cut in lettering very similar to his typefaces of the 1750s.

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Crispness of Baskerville's work seems to have unsettled his contemporaries, and some claimed the stark contrasts in his printing damaged the eyes.

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Baskerville was never particularly successful as a printer, being a printer of specialist and elite editions, something not helped by the erratic standard of editing in his books.

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Baskerville's work was later admired in England by Thomas Frognall Dibdin, who wrote that 'in his Italic letter.

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Bulmer, cut by the brother of Baskerville's foremen, was one design inspired by it, as is the Bell type cut by Richard Austin.

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Original Baskerville type was revived in 1917 by Bruce Rogers, for the Harvard University Press, and released by G Peignot et Fils in Paris (France).

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Baskerville is used widely in documents issued by the University of Birmingham and Castleton University (Vermont, USA).

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Key features of Baskerville are its E where the bottom arm projects further than the upper, a W with no centre serif, and in the lower-case g where the bottom loop is open.

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Some fonts cut for Baskerville have an 'R' with a straight leg; in others it is curved.

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In general, Baskerville's type has been described as 'rounder, more sharply cut' than its predecessors.

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Baskerville produced a font for Greek, which survives at Oxford.

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Baskerville had cut ornaments, many apparently copied or influenced from those offered by the Enschede type foundry of Haarlem.

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Monotype Baskerville is installed on Macs as part of macOS, while many Windows computers receive Moore's adaptation under the name of Baskerville Old Face in the URW digitisation without an italic or bold weight.

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