|Foundry||Deberny & Peignot
|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 newer styles of Giambattista Bodoni & 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.
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 Pierre Simon Fournier, Giambattista Bodoni (who intended at one point to come to England to work under him), and Benjamin Franklin.
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 (UK) and Castleton State College (Vermont, USA), with the latter using the New Baskerville typeface. A modified version of Baskerville is also prominently used in the Canadian government's corporate identity program—namely, in the 'Canada' wordmark. Another modified version of Baskerville is used by Northeastern University (USA), and the ABRSM.
Effect on readers
A research study showed that the use of the Baskerville font increased the likelihood of the reader agreeing with a statement by 1.5% as compared to the average of five other fonts, including Comic Sans which had the most negative influence on agreement of the six.
- 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.
- "Castleton State College: Athletic Logo Usage and Style Guidelines". Castleton State College. August 2008. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
- Errol Morris, Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth, The New York Times
- Lawson, Alexander S. (1990), Anatomy of a Typeface, Boston: Godine, ISBN 0-87923-333-8.
- Meggs, Philip B. & Carter, Rob (1993), Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, ISBN 0-442-00758-2
- Meggs, Philip B. & McKelvey, Roy (2000), Revival of the Fittest, New York: RC Publications, ISBN 1-883915-08-2.
- Updike, Daniel Berkley (1980) , Printing Types Their History, Forms and Use II (2nd ed.), New York: Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-23929-2.
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