Type Research — Baskerville

Name of typeface: Baskerville

Name of designer: John Baskerville

Year it was designed: 1754

“Baskerville, designed in 1754, is most known for its crisp edges, high contrast and generous proportions. The typeface was heavily influenced by the processes of the Birmingham-bred John Baskerville, a master type-founder and printer, who owed much of his career to his beginnings. As a servant in a clergyman’s house, it was his employer that discovered his penmanship talents and sent him to learn writing. Baskerville was illiterate but became very interested in calligraphy, and practiced handwriting and inscription that was later echoed in strokes and embellishments in his printed typeface.

Baskerville is categorized as a transitional typeface in-between classical typefaces and the high contrast modern faces. At the time that John Baskerville decided to switch from owning a japanning business to a type foundry, Phillipe Grandjean’s exclusive Romain du Roi for Louis XIV had circulated and been copied in Europe. The mathematically-drawn characters felt cold, and prompted Baskerville to create a softer typeface with rounded bracketed serifs and a vertical axis.”

— idsgn.org, Know your type: Baskerville (2010)

“Having been an early admirer of the beauty of letters, I became insensibly desirous of contributing to the perfection of them. I formed to myself ideas of greater accuracy than had yet appeared, and had endeavoured to produce a set of types according to what I conceived to be their true proportion.”

— John Baskerville, Anatomy of a Typeface (1758)