Fried Baskerville

canderson's picture

Is it appropriate to mix John Baskerville's Baskerville and Isaac Moore's Fry's Baskerville on the same page? The conventional wisdom, I think, is that Fry's Baskerville is a sharper face, more appropriate for display sizes.

It's also interesting that there was a time when one could reinterpret a face, and both give credit to the inpiration while still taking credit (or blame) for the changes. I wish I could do that with a few fonts.

Si_Daniels's picture

Doh! I was hoping this post would be related to some kind of olde recipe for an 18th century English breakfast cooked over a boiling pot of molten lead. Disappointed!

canderson's picture

Well, if were stuck on the topic of breakfast...I wonder if Mrs. Eaves ever made omlettes?

Stephen Coles's picture

If it looks right, go for it. In metal type, display and text sizes of the same font often differed substantially.

canderson's picture

ITC New Baskerville
Fry's Baskerville (Bitstream)
Unidentified Baskerville

Fry's Baskerville really has a lot more "character". That is, it has characteristics that one can easily argue againt, if your goal is, say, legibility or consistancy. I kind of like it though. I wonder what size the Bitstream version was taken from. Maybe it was inspired by one of the larger sizes.

bieler's picture

The date I have on Bitstream's Fry's Baskerville is 1990. A bit early for digital type foundries to consider reproducing from sizes larger than 10- to 12-pt.

That heavy weighted cap to lower case weight and the reduced x-height though is far more technically traditional than the others shown.


John Nolan's picture

In response to speculation on the origin of Fry's Baskerville, here's an bit from An Atlas of Typeforms (James Sutton and Alan Bartram):

"Fry's Baskerville is much later in feeling than the original, and has more in common with Bell or Scotch Roman than with Baskerville. This "improved" version was cut by Isaac Moore for Dr. Fry in 1769, and reproduced by Stephenson and Blake in 1913."

Greg Stanton's picture

Use Monotype Baskerville for text. It's a little light, but generally faithful to the original.

If you try to use Fry's Baskerville at text sizes, you will not be happy. The hairlines are too thin to hold -- think Linotype Didot. Unreadable. It looks great at large sizes, especially if you tighten the letterspacing and tweak the kerning.

As an alternative to Baskerville for text, try Utopia. It looks really good in a range of sizes.

Bobby Henderson's picture

This is a sample of Berthold's "BE" version of Baskerville Adobe bundled in with some of their applications in the early 1990s. It has a more slab-serif feel to it. I think the bold weight is an attractive alternative to Clarendon.

hrant's picture

So wait, what cooking oil does one use for dog meat?


Well, metal versions of Fry's (such as ATF's) had optical scaling,
so they worked fine. But to me Fry's is in fact different enough
that it's a shame it's called Baskerville. You have to remember
though that it was a clone, intended to cannibalize on the sales
of the original. Except both actually fared poorly on the market
at the time! It was the French who ended up saving it.

BTW, Berthold later replaced that cut of Baskerville
with a much better one, done by GGL. Many people
think it's the best (digital) version out there.

Lastly, don't forget Fountain's Baskerville.
It does happen to have the best "g" for one.


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