Typefaces inspired by Baskerville

jordanjustkidding's picture

Hi guys,

I'm looking for serif typefaces that are inspired by or share some similarities with Baskerville. Different versions of Baskerville would be good as well, but I'm more interested in fonts that have their own character and personality, as subtle as that may be, but are definitely inspired or derived from Baskerville's shape and proportion.

Mrs Eaves is a good one as it is consciously adapting aspects of Baskerville, are there any more that go through this process?

Many thanks.


aarhaus's picture

Apperently, R. Slimbach’s Utopia is inspired by both Baskerville and Walbaum.

blank's picture

Everything Giambattista Bodoni and Firmin Didot are known for. And, of course, Fry’s Baskerville.

clauses's picture

Moderns? Really James? There is a hell of a way from transitionals to moderns.

clauses's picture

I linked to Baskerville (sic) Sans in my earlier post.

Nick Shinn's picture

There is a hell of a way from transitionals to moderns.

Inspiration does not necessarily produce similarity, as Jordan notes, and that is what particularly interests him.

JB's dramatic innovations (smoother paper, blacker ink, type of greater contrast) were taken a step further by the Moderns -- this was recognized at the time and subsequently.

However, although I have frequently seen it written that Bodoni admired Baskerville, I wonder if there is an actual quote from him to this effect, or whether it is an inference by historians to justify the "transitional" theory, and the narrative line of causality that is conventional wisdom. Even if he had purchased works printed with Baskerville's types, does that mean they inspired him to adopt similar tropes, or was he merely studying the competition, with the goal of emulating its success?

After all, I have acquired a lot of type specimens, many of fonts that, if I consider them at all, "inspire" me to avoid anything remotely similar.

gohebrew's picture

HOow are all other versions of John Baskerville's design different than John's introduction?

Little John Baskerville xxvi is poor and hungry. Should he get a cut of every Baskerville version?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I missed that one, Claus. Btw, the links break if they're the first thing in the post.

blank's picture

Moderns? Really James? There is a hell of a way from transitionals to moderns.

Regiment the letter widths a little, tweak some serifs, and you’re there. Particularly if you look at the early designs by Bodoni and Firmin Didot, as opposed to the later designs done after they had really developed the style.

However, although I have frequently seen it written that Bodoni admired Baskerville, I wonder if there is an actual quote from him to this effect…

I’ve never read any quotes from Bodoni. According to Lawson, Bodoni’s trip to England was a trip to Birmingham to meet Baskerville. Fortunately Taschen has just published a new English edition of the Manuale Tipografico, maybe it will include some of his writings. It should be here Tuesday.

James Mosley's picture

According to Lawson, Bodoni’s trip to England was a trip to Birmingham to meet Baskerville.

If Lawson had any reason to write that he did not give it. Updike said that after the suicide of Ruggeri, his particular friend and patron, and director of the foreign-language printing office of the Propaganda Fide (not the Vatican), ‘Bodoni, unable to endure further employment at Rome, left the Press with the idea of seeking his fortune in England.’ As not uncommonly happens in Updike’s text, that remark is acute though lacking a source. Bodoni’s biographer De Lama said that when he had already spent eight years in Rome and was aware of his own capabilities (he had already cut some types) Bodoni was becoming interested in seeing countries ‘beyond the alps’. There were some enthusiasts in Rome (De Lama calls them virtuosi) who told him how generous the English were, and persuaded him at short notice to come with them. There is no mention of Baskerville or Birmingham. We know that, having stopped off in his native Piemonte, Bodoni was traced by the new librarian in Parma, Paciaudi, who had known him in Rome, and signed up for the new printing office that had been planned there for some years by the prime minister, Guillaume Du Tillot. He arrived in 1768.

Bodoni wrote in the preface to the little specimen book he made in Parma in 1771 that when he was in Rome in the 1760s people were admiring Baskerville’s types and praising them, but that he thought it would be more ‘useful’ to follow those of Fournier which had better proportions. Useful because he really thought so or because French culture was supreme in Parma? He wisely does not explain. That is his only published reference to Baskerville’s types. Baskerville’s name does appear in the posthumously published Manuale tipografico of 1818 but only in a couple of very general references.

Many of the types in the specimen of 1771 are Fournier’s, which Du Tillot had already imported. Some of the others are imitations of Fournier’s flowers and decorated letters, not all of them very good. There is also a single unnumbered leaf of Greek which is a straight copy of the type that Baskerville made for the University Press at Oxford. It is a pretty, small octavo specimen, very rare, with a decorative title page imitated directly from the second volume (the one with the specimen) of Fournier’s Manuel typographique. The title is Fregi e majuscole incise e fuse da Giambattista Bodoni, direttore della Stamperia Reale, ‘ornaments and capitals cut and cast by Giambattista Bodoni, director of the royal printing-office’. (In 1982 the Houghton Library in Cambridge MA issued a facsimile made from one of their own copies, including its printed wrappers. It is among their publications currently listed for sale. The price is six dollars.)

Among the books associated with Bodoni at the Palatina Library in Parma is a rather battered copy of Fournier’s Manuel typographique, with some smoke proofs of punches in a style resembling Fournier’s on some of the pages. Pasted inside the front cover are quite a lot of fragments cut from Baskerville’s specimen sheet of about 1762. Marks on some of the fragments suggest that an attempt has been made to get copies from some of the letters.

jordanjustkidding's picture

Thanks guys this is really great. I'm particularly fond of Utopia.

The Bodoni / Didot thing is interesting.. but I'm wondering if there are many recent fonts that are inspired by Baskerville?

Does anyone know any fonts designed in the last 10 - 20 years that are, in some way or another, inspired by Baskerville? Or perhaps even any good transitional typeface designed in the last 10 years for that matter?

Nick Shinn's picture

Not quite what you had in mind, I guess, but in Oneleigh Italic I copied the idea of having a few swash capitals as default capitals. This is a conceit of Baskerville's italic, although not all revivals adhere to it. It's an idea which Goudy also adopted in several of his fonts.

...any good transitional typeface designed in the last 10 years...

Some people consider Scotch Romans to be transitional, e.g. H&FJ's Chronicle.

Reed Reibstein's picture

Not commercially available, but for the sake of completeness, Jean-Francois Porchez's Henderson Serif and Sans.

As for a favorite recent transitional face, I'm a fan of Farnham.

ncaleffi's picture

Jordan, Matthieu Cortat's Bonesana is an explicit attempt to revive Baskerville's spirit in a contemporary way:




Another typeface clearly designed ove Baskerville is Luciano Perondi's Voland Serif - not available for licensing since it has been made as the custom type for Italian publishing house Voland:

Finally, two Baskerville revivals not mentioned above - and apparently very well done:

Franco Luin's Baskerville Classico:

Lars Bergquist's Baskerville 1757:

quadibloc's picture

It is at least conventional wisdom, as stated in Updike, that Baskerville opened the door through which Bodoni rushed. Thus, he stated that while Baskerville was a good typeface in itself, it was "mischevious" in its effects.

Essentially, Baskerville designed a typeface that looked more impressive than Caslon, but one which required new high-quality printing techniques to look reasonable. Thus, he was unable to make an economic success of his printing business, and was roundly disliked by other printers.

Bodoni and Didot then took the characteristics of letterforms pioneered by Baskerville to an extreme. Eventually, as printing technology caught up, and with a particular boost from the French Romain du Roi, another inspiration for Bodoni, (The Romain du Roi, though, was released in the year Caslon was born, which seems to complicate the usual story as I've understood it.)

Thus, changes in fashion, each step seeming reasonable at the time, led to Caslon being replaced by a host of Scotch Roman faces, inspired by Bodoni, many of which now look to the eyes of many people today as unattractive.

blank's picture

James, thank you very much for taking the time to share all of that with us.

Nick Shinn's picture

John, your last post is a parade of non-sequiturs.
So much for "conventional wisdom".

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