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date: 23 October 2019

Baskerville, Johnlocked

(b Sion Hill, Worcs, Jan 28, 1706; d Birmingham, Jan 8, 1775).
  • Laura Suffield

Extract

(b Sion Hill, Worcs, Jan 28, 1706; d Birmingham, Jan 8, 1775).

English printer and publisher . He developed skills in calligraphy and monumental inscription–cutting apparently without an apprenticeship. Aged 19 he went to Birmingham to teach writing and bookkeeping and also to cut tombstones. Around 1740 he entered into business as a manufacturer of japanned goods, at which he proved highly successful. The proceeds enabled him to purchase a large house outside Birmingham and to start experimenting with type-founding c. 1750. Baskerville entered into partnership with the London bookseller Robert Dodsley (1733–64), and he published an edition of the works of Virgil as his first book in 1757; it met with praise but also with the criticism that was to follow him throughout much of his career: the print was too dazzling, the strokes too narrow and the paper too glossy. Baskerville’s types achieved their effect by his modification of the stress nearer the vertical; the transition between thick and thin strokes was more pronounced than in previous types, and the general effect was of greater precision. He may not have set up his own paper mill, as has been suggested, but he certainly exploited the properties of the newly developed wove paper and pressed it to achieve a crisp finish (...

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