Storm's John Baskerville + John Sans = ?

Forrest L Norvell's picture

I'm about to start a new project which I've decided would look best in Baskerville, which got sort of stuck in my head after reading Ari Rafaeli's Book Typography. I'm going for kind of a retrofuturistic look, and I intend to be using semi-narrow columns, long stretches of text and the brutally tight word spacing that Rafaeli prefers, just to see how everything works out. I've really been digging Storm's typefaces all year (although I'm still trying to wrap my head around his and Jan Solpera's new Areplos), and the book weights of Storm's John Baskerville are the only digital versions of any Baskerville that seem to be right for extended text.

Anyway, I was wondering if any of you have ever done any larger projects using John Baskerville with John Sans as a complementary sans face, and if so, what you thought of the results. It seems to me like the faces could go together well, or they could be just similar enough to clash violently on the page. Also, does anyone have any thoughts, pro and con, on the letter spacing in either typeface? Does it need any adjustment to work well?

Thanks for your thoughts!

hrant's picture

> the only digital versions of any Baskerville
> that seem to be right for extended text.

Well, if you go 12-14 point (using a deep* cut) there are
a few versions that could work. In fact I myself have this
feeling that Baskerville is most itself at those sizes.


Also, there is a digital Baskerville with pretty heavy
optical scaling, it's just not for sale: the Valdonega
press has it, and they can set your book in it; check
out Dreyfus's "Into Print".


Palatine's picture

John Sans was designed to go with John Baskerville. It is an attempt at a sans serif version of JB.

Although I have not used either of those faces, from what I can tell from some samples, they'd both look very good together. Given the fact that Storm designed them *and* meant to have them used together, I'd bet my Requiem that you wouldn't go wrong with that pairing.

You could even ask Storm directly for some .pdf samples or something to show the pair in use.

Forrest L Norvell's picture

I know that Storm designed them to be complementary, and I generally have a high opinion of his work (I've spent a small fortune on Storm type this year), I just wanted to see if anyone had hands-on experience using the two together.

Hrant: I honestly don't have a gut sense of whether you're right or not about Baskerville's being most itself at Great Primer sizes. I have come to see "Baskerville the typeface" as being linked with "Baskerville the element in John Baskerville's notion of the well-printed book", and I've seen some books printed in 2-column long primer Baskerville according to Baskerville's methods that look gorgeous. The project I have in mind is most likely going to be tightly spaced, tightly leaded, and multi-column, and in that context I think 8-point or 9-point text makes the most sense. John Baskerville Text seems like it would work well at that size, but until I pony up for it I won't know for sure.

Thanks for your input, folks.

Stefan H's picture

A friend of mine who's in the publishing business have used them together in some book projects. Their experiences have been good. Storm is overall trustwordy I would say. as mentioned. You probably have to make some smaller adjustments regarding kerning and "sizing" to make them look equal in "blackness" etc.

paul d hunt's picture

I’ve spent a small fortune on Storm type this year

glad i'm not the only one!

rs_donsata's picture

I get excited every time I see the pdf specimens of Storm typefaces, but alway wonder what is the reaction of the readers (and of the authors) after Storm's funkiness?


dezcom's picture

What is Storm's funkyness?


Palatine's picture

I have to hand it to Storm. Nothing but quality.

Take Serapion, for instance: for all its stylistic details and I daresay, oddities, it is surprisingly readable. I'm actually quite comfortable with it.

Forrest L Norvell's picture

I would call Storm's typefaces "characteristic" rather than "funky". I've spent a lot of time studying his various Czech digitizations (Solpera, Metron, Juvenis, Preissig -- although it's hard to see much of anyone other than Preissig in Preissig) and Farao, so I've become sensitized to the quirks he puts in his fonts. There's a lot of 18th century English wood types in his faces -- just look at the foots on his 'b's or the taper of the arches over a lot of his counters -- but I think he does a good job of modulating them on his body faces. There's just a hint of the goofiness of Farao in John Baskerville, the former of which is just taking the characteristics of other Clarendons to their logical extreme. I dunno, I don't think his faces are excessively weird. His fonts aren't as characterless as, say, Porchez's or Hoefler's, but they're not wildly extravagant either.

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