Baskerville

Baskerville

[bas-ker-vil]
Baskerville, John, 1706-75, English designer of type and printer. He and Caslon were the two great type designers of the 18th cent. in England. He began his work as printer and publisher in 1757 and in 1758 became printer to the Univ. of Cambridge. Baskerville's first volume was a quarto edition of Vergil. His type faces introduced the modern, pseudoclassical style, with level serifs and with emphasis on the contrast of light and heavy lines. This style influenced that of the Didot family in France and that of Bodoni in Italy. Books printed by Baskerville are typically large, with wide margins, made with excellent paper and ink. His masterpiece was a folio Bible, published in 1763. After his death his wife operated the press until 1777. Then most of his types were purchased by Beaumarchais and were used in his 70-volume edition of Voltaire. The matrices, long lost, were rediscovered and in 1953 were presented to Cambridge Univ. Press. Among Baskerville's publications in the British Museum are Aesop's Fables (1761), the Bible (1763), and the works of Horace (1770).

See biographies by W. Bennett (1939) and H. Evans (1953); bibliography by Philip Gaskell (1959).

Baskerville, detail of a portrait after James Millar, 1774; in the National Portrait Gallery, London

(born Jan. 28, 1706, Wolverly, Worcestershire, Eng.—died Jan. 8, 1775, Birmingham, Warwickshire) British typographer. In 1757 he set up a printing house and published his first work, an edition of Virgil. His editions of the Latin classics, John Milton's poems (1758), and a folio Bible (1763) are characterized by clear and careful presswork rather than ornament; they are among the finest examples of the art of printing. He served as printer to Cambridge University (1758–68), and he created the widely used Baskerville typeface, which is still used and prized for its clarity and balance.

Learn more about Baskerville, John with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Baskerville, detail of a portrait after James Millar, 1774; in the National Portrait Gallery, London

(born Jan. 28, 1706, Wolverly, Worcestershire, Eng.—died Jan. 8, 1775, Birmingham, Warwickshire) British typographer. In 1757 he set up a printing house and published his first work, an edition of Virgil. His editions of the Latin classics, John Milton's poems (1758), and a folio Bible (1763) are characterized by clear and careful presswork rather than ornament; they are among the finest examples of the art of printing. He served as printer to Cambridge University (1758–68), and he created the widely used Baskerville typeface, which is still used and prized for its clarity and balance.

Learn more about Baskerville, John with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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 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. In 1923, the typeface was also revived in England by Stanley Morison for the British Monotype Company as part of its program of revivals. Most recently, the Baskerville typeface was used as the basis for the Mrs Eaves typeface in 1996, designed by Zuzana Licko.

A modified version of Baskerville is prominently used in the Canadian government's corporate identity program – namely, in the 'Canada' wordmark.

References

  • Lawson, Alexander S., Anatomy of a Typeface. Godine: 1990. ISBN 978-0879233334.
  • Meggs, Philip and Rob Carter. Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces. Van Nostrand Reinhold: 1993. ISBN 0-442-00758-2
  • Meggs, Philip B. and Roy McKelvey. Revival of the Fittest. RC Publications, Inc.: 2000. ISBN 1-883915-08-2
  • Updike, Daniel Berkley. Printing Types Their History, Forms and Use, Vol. II. Dover Publications, Inc.: 1937, 1980. ISBN 0-486-23929-2

External links

Search another word or see baskervilleon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature