IF YOU WERE TO THINK of a typeface that
The Hounds of
A perfect English typeface, designed by a perfect English Gentleman.
was to epitomize pure Englishness, there’s a good chance that you’re thinking of Baskerville. Beautiful to look at coupled with perfect readability ensures that Baskerville is a sure ﬁre favorite with designers and the public alike. The typeface was designed in 1757 by John Baskerville in Birmingham, England. Baskerville is classiﬁed as a transitional typeface, positioned between the old style typeface of William Caslon, and the modern styles of Giambattista Bodoni and Firmin Didot. Funnily enough, Baskerville’s intention whilst designing his new typeface was to improve upon the types of Caslon; Therefore, he endeavored to ensure that 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 fonts were, for their time, unusually slender, delicate, well balanced and tasteful.
Baskerville marked a rejuvenation in style, form and the aesthetics of the coming age. Baskerville and his punchcutter John Hardy produced single basic font in several sizes and forms, and it has one attribute that makes the typeface instantly recognizable and timelessly stunning – the uppercase ‘Q’. It features a tail extending well beyond its body width, unusual and rarely seen beyond calligraphy. The lower-case ‘g’ is also notable with its curled ear and its lower bowl left unclosed.
Baskerville is John Baskerville‘s greatest achievement – he succeeded in designing a traditional, square and honest looking set of type which has been in extensive and more or less continuous use for the past 250 years. It is just a shame that although Baskerville is one of the most famous names in typography, he met little success in his lifetime - but sometimes, that’s just the way it goes (unfortunate for him though of course). Bibliography: ‘Just My Type’, Simon Garﬁeld/Proﬁle Books, 2010 All images taken from ‘Shutterstock.com’