The origins of The Baskerville Font
Baskerville began his career in a very humble way; he engraved tombstones but his love for calligraphy made him become a teacher of handwriting and inscription. His penmanship was excellent, evident in his printed typeface.
Not content with his stint at handwriting, Baskerville soon embraced japanning, an early form of enameling. He put his talent to good use and soon became very popular for his japanned tea trays and bread baskets. This was just the beginning of something very big for Baskerville went on to create a most elegant typeface—the Baskerville font.
Although Baskerville continued japanning, his heart lay elsewhere- for his passion was typography. He switched careers and owned a type foundry. Print technology then was a secret that printers would never reveal; Baskerville patiently experimented with print technology, created his own paper and inks. He set up a printing business, and hired John Handy as his punch cutter.
The design process behind the original Baskerville font
The hard work was well worth it- the result was a typeface that was the culmination of all the arts that Baskerville had acquired — calligraphy, stone-cutting, letter designing, type-founding and printing. The Baskerville font was an attempt to improve on Caslon Old Style and the resulting typeface lay in- between the old and the new style. That’s why it’s often referred to as a ‘transitional style.’
The master type-founder and printer produced one of the most classic typefaces that is so well known for its legibility and refined beauty. It is easily one of the most popular typographic compositions. From 1754-1775, Baskerville was unstoppable; he created a brilliant series of original typefaces and published some fifty classics. His first work was a collection of Virgil and his masterpiece was the Bible.
The rise to fame and popularity of this typeface
He was the envy of his fellow printers, some of whom even criticized his printing, and his styles were initially very unpopular in Britain. However, 1917 saw Baskerville being revived by Bruce Rogers for the Harvard university press. The font was used widely in a couple of universities; the modified version is popular in Canada and Northeastern University in USA.
Monotype Baskerville is a part of Mac’s OS X and Microsoft has bundled Baskerville Old Face in its window products. In 1996, Zuzana Licko designed Baskerville as Mrs. Eaves, Baskerville’s housekeeper turned wife.
Foundries across the world are reviving Baskerville–Open Baskerville is an open source project to create a digital revival of the famous ‘Baskerville’ typefaces.