|Foundry||Deberny & Peignot
|Shown here||Baskerville Ten by
Baskerville is a serif typeface designed in 1757 by John Baskerville (1706–1775) in Birmingham, England and cut by John Handy. Baskerville is classified as a transitional typeface, a refinement of old style typefaces of the period, such as those of William Caslon. Compared to earlier designs, Baskerville 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 typefaces remain very popular in book design.
Baskerville's typeface was the culmination of a larger series of experiments in higher-quality printing 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. At the start of his edition of Paradise Lost, he wrote a preface explaining his ambitions.
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 meet him), and Benjamin Franklin.
After falling out of use with the onset of Didone and Scotch Roman typefaces such as Bulmer, Bell, Didot and Bodoni, Baskerville was revived in 1917 by Bruce Rogers, for the Harvard University Press and released by Deberny & Peignot. Modern revivals have added features, such as italics with extra or no swashes and bold weights, that were not present in Baskerville's original work.
The font is used widely in documents issued by the University of Birmingham (UK) and Castleton State College (Vermont, USA). 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. Monotype Baskerville is often used by the band Chvrches.
Hot type versions
The following foundries offered versions of Baskerville:
- The original punches were sold by Baskerville's widow and eventually ended up in the possession of Deberny & Peignot by way of Beaumarchais. Charles Peignot donated them to Cambridge University Press in 1953.
- The Fry type foundry of Bristol cut its own version in the late eighteenth century, presumably by house designer Isaac Moore. With Baskerville's equipment unavailable in France it experienced considerable success.[a]
- When Fry's successors closed, this version was acquired and issued (or possibly recut) in hot metal by Stephenson Blake under the name "Baskerville Old Face".[b]
- The Fry Foundry version was also sold by American Type Founders with an italic designed in 1915 by Morris Fuller Benton.
- 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. As with other Monotype revivals, the design is sometimes called Baskerville MT.
- Schriftgießerei D. Stempel issued a revival in 1926 under the name "Original-Baskerville" in antiqua and kursiv.
- Linotype AG, the German arm of Mergenthaler Linotype, adapted the Stempel cutting of the face for linecasting in 1927. 
- 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. It may sometimes be called Baskerville LT.
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, Varityper, Hell AG and Monotype, all sold the face under the name Baskerville, while Graphic Systems Inc. offered the face as Beaumont.
As a somewhat precise design that emphasises contrast between thick and thin strokes, different digitisations provide a variety of interpretations of what Baskerville intended and of how the digitisation should compensate for ink spread on paper. Designers may therefore prefer different designs for different text sizes, papers and printing methods, since a design intended for large text sizes could look too spindly for body text. Among recent digitisations, František Štorm's extremely complete range of versions features three optical sizes, the text version having thicker strokes to reflect how smaller text appears on paper. Meanwhile, the common URW digitisation of Baskerville Old Face features dramatic contrasts between thin and thick strokes, which when combined with its lacking an italic makes it most suited to headings.[c] Another common question facing revivals is what to do with some letters such as 'N' in italics. On faithful revivals such as the Storm digitisation (shown) they have a swash, but this may be thought too distracting for general use or to space poorly in all-caps text. Accordingly, many revivals substitute (or offer as an alternate) capitals without swashes.
We went to Birmingham where we saw original prints by Baskerville. I was quite astounded by how sharp the printing of his specimens is. They are razor-sharp: it almost hurt your eyes to see them. So elegant and high-contrast! He showed in this way what he could achieve. That was Baskerville's ideal - but not necessarily right for today.
Many companies have provided digital releases (some of older Baskerville revivals), including Linotype, URW++, and Bitstream as well as many others. These may have varying features, for example some lacking small caps. Monotype Baskerville is installed on Macs as part of OS X, while many Windows computers receive Baskerville Old Face in a revival without italics (the URW version described above).
A particularly idiosyncratic Baskerville revival is Mrs Eaves (1996), designed by Zuzana Licko. Named after Baskerville's housekeeper-turned-wife, it uses a low x-height to create a bright page without reducing stroke width. It is often used on book titles and headings. It uses a variety of ligatures to create effects with linked characters popular for titling use.
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.
Some examples of volumes published by Baskerville.
Volume One of The works of Joseph Addison (1761)
The 1766 translation of Virgil into English, by Robert Andrews
- Coles, Stephen. "Top Ten Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners". FontFeed. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
- John Baskerville : type-founder and printer, 1706 -1775. [S.l.]: Cambridge Univ Press. 2014. ISBN 9781108076227.
- Hansard, Thomas Curson (1825). Typographia, an Historical Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Art of Printing. p. 355. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Bartram, Alan (2004). Bauhaus, modernism and the illustrated book. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. ISBN 9780300101171.
- Loxley, Simon (2005). Type: the secret history of letters. London [u.a.]: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 9781845110284.
- "Castleton State College: Athletic Logo Usage and Style Guidelines" (PDF). Castleton State College. August 2008. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
- 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
- Lawson, Alexander. Anatomy Of A Typeface. David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc.: 1990, p. 194
- "Baskerville Old Face". Microsoft. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- Mosley, Professor James. "Comments on Typophile thread". Typophile (archived). Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- 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. Anaotomy Of A Typeface. David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc.: 1990, p. 192
- Hoefler, Jonathan. "What's in a font name?". Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
- Specimens of Type. London: Caslon & Co. 1915. p. 64.
- Lawson, Alexander, Archie Provan, and Frank Romano, Primer Metal Typeface Identification, National Composition Association, Arlington, Virginia, 1976, pp. 34 - 35.
- Coles, Stephen. "Top Ten Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners". FontFeed. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
- Twardoch, Adam. "Baskerville 10". Typographica. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- "Introducing Big Moore". Font Bureau. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Big Moore FB". Font Bureau. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Storm Type Baskerville Original Pro". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Baskerville Old Face". Fonts In Use.
- Reynolds, Dan. "Dieter Hofrichter". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- "Baskerville Book Pro". Berthold. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
- Eye, Number 43, Volume 11, Spring 2002.
- `. "Introducing Mrs Eaves XL" (PDF). Emigre. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Mr Eaves". Emigre Fonts. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Mr Eaves specimen". Emigre. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Mrs Eaves Design Information: Emigre Fonts". Emigre.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- 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.
- Moore's designs and their revivals feature a slightly squared a. Moore was a Birmingham native, but does not appear to have had any connection with Baskerville himself.
- Moore's italic was considered substandard by revivalist printers, and Baskerville Old Face revivals have tended to either synthesise their own or offer none.
- This has also been digitised in a more sophisticated version as Big Moore by Matthew Carter.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Baskerville.|
- Typophile: Baskerville
- John Baskerville I Love Typography, Sep. 23, 2007
- Open Baskerville – an open-source revival of Moore's Baskerville, without an italic