Baskerville is a transitional font that came about during the middle of the 18th century. John Baskerville, a man who had made a great deal of money hardening furniture and other objects through an varnishing process, once established, turned his interests to printing. J. Baskerville designed his typeface and had his employee, John Hardy, cut the punches for him. The work took several years because of Baskerville’s perfectionist behavior. He also went on to find new ways to improve upon the printing press to allow for greater precision.

Design Differences

Baskerville, the letterform, is known for its wider form and moderate stroke. It is noted that Baskerville gives a page a light gray appearance because of its form width and balance with the pages white space.

Another characteristic to point out in Baskerville is the tail of the capital ‘Q’ – it first sharply strikes to the left and then folds to the right, slightly tucking under the next letter, similar to the finish of a calligraphic capital ‘Q’. An interesting characteristic can be found in the tail of the lowercase ‘g’. Its descender does not make a fully closed loop, but tucks around itself like the tail of an animal. Additionally, the cross bar of the lowercase ‘e’ is high and the lowercase ‘j’ descender tucks to the left.

Famous Fans

Ben Franklin was an admirer of the Baskerville letterform. Being a printer himself, he could appreciate the simple and delicate lines that Baskerville offers.

Visual Study

'A Study in Q' - Shading provided by the first chapter of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Carter, Rob, Philip B. Meggs, and Ben Day. Typographic design: form and communication. 3rd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. Print.

Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to opentype: an illustrated history of type from the earliest letterforms to the latest digital fonts. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 2006. Print.

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