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.

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