John Baskerville

BookJohn Baskerville

John Baskerville

Art and Industry in the Enlightenment

Eighteenth-Century Worlds, 7


October 5th, 2017

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This book is concerned with the eighteenth-century typographer, printer, industrialist and Enlightenment figure, John Baskerville (1707-75). Baskerville was a Birmingham inventor, entrepreneur and artist with a worldwide reputation who made eighteenth-century Birmingham a city without typographic equal, by changing the course of type design. Baskerville not only designed one of the world’s most historically important typefaces, he also experimented with casting and setting type, improved the construction of the printing-press, developed a new kind of paper and refined the quality of printing inks. His typographic experiments put him ahead of his time, had an international impact and did much to enhance the printing and publishing industries of his day. Yet despite his importance, fame and influence many aspects of Baskerville’s work and life remain unexplored and his contribution to the arts, industry, culture and society of the Enlightenment are largely unrecognized. Moreover, recent scholarly research in archaeology, art and design, history, literary studies and typography, is leading to a fundamental reassessment of many aspects of Baskerville’s life and impact, including his birthplace, his work as an industrialist, the networks which sustained him and the reception of his printing in Britain and overseas. The last major, but inadequate publication of Baskerville dates from 1975. Now, forty years on, the time is ripe for a new book. This interdisciplinary approach provides an original contribution to printing history, eighteenth-century studies and the dissemination of ideas.


'A fascinating account of the printer, type designer, and manufacturer, John Baskerville, which sheds new light on the history of this polymathic figure. Focusing on previously unexplored details of his personal life, the book explores his contribution to fields beyond printing, and his relationship with the broader technologies and ideas of Enlightenment Birmingham.'
Dr Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh

‘This book brings to light the life of this relatively unknown 18th century figure…This volume is an important addition to the story of Birmingham and the power of networks that brought together art and industry during the Industrial Revolution.’

The William Shipley Group Bulletin

'This enterprising volume of essays makes a determined effort to…underline the influence that Baskerville had in the Midlands, Britain and beyond.'
Paul Elliott, Midland History

'This collection of papers is a useful contribution to the study of Baskerville [...] There is valuable original work here, especially in filling out some of the gaps in our knowledge of Baskerville’s life.'
John Feather, Publishing History

'Due to the variety of its chapters, and the depth of their investigations, John Baskerville: Art and Industry of the Enlightenment is a most welcome title, and one can only hope that it may be the first in what will become a series of 'Baskerville studies' addressing a range of  topics from authors in a variety of fields.

'Dan Reynolds, Journal of the Printing Historical Society

Author Information

Caroline Archer-Parré is Professor of Typography at Birmingham City University, Director of the Centre for Printing History & Culture and Chairman of the Baskerville Society. She is the author of The Kynoch Press, 1876-1982: the anatomy of a printing house, (British Library, 2000); Paris Underground (MBP, 2004); and Tart cards: London’s illicit advertising art (MBP, 2003). Caroline is currently Co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Letterpress Printing: past, present, future’. Malcolm Dick is Director of the Centre for West Midlands History at the University of Birmingham. He directed two history projects in Birmingham between 2000 and 2004: the Millennibrum Project, which created a multi-media archive of post-1945 Birmingham history and Revolutionary Players which produced an online resource of the history of the West Midlands region. Malcolm has published books on Joseph Priestley, Matthew Boulton and the history of Birmingham and co-directs the Centre for Printing History & Culture.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures7
Baskerville Family Tree17
Introduction: John Baskerville: Art and Industry of the Enlightenment19
1 The Topographies of a Typographer: Mapping John Baskerville since the Eighteenth Century27
2 Baskerville’s Birmingham: Printing and the English Urban Renaissance43
3 Place, Home and Workplace: Baskerville’s Birthplace and Buildings60
4 John Baskerville: Japanner of ‘Tea Trays and other Household Goods’89
5 John Baskerville, William Hutton and their Social Networks 105
6 John Baskerville the Writing Master: Calligraphy and Type in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century131
7 A Reappraisal of Baskerville’s Greek Types151
8 John Baskerville’s Decorated Papers 169
9 The ‘Baskerville Bindings’ 184
10 After the ‘Perfect Book’: English Printers and their Use of Baskerville’s Type, 1767–90203
11 The Cambridge Cult of the Baskerville Press224
Appendix 1 The ‘Baskerville Bindings’240
Appendix 2 Members of the Baskerville Club244
Appendix 3 Comparative Bibliography248
Further Reading266
General Bibliography273
Notes on the Contributors278