Free alternatives to Baskerville

Urieal's picture

Well, I have lurked on these forums for quite awhile, researching the fonts that I need and admiring the knowledge of so many. Since I need some expert help, I decided to

I am a particular fan of John Baskerville's font. I prefer the original Baskerville font over other variants, such as Fry's Baskerville and Mrs. Eaves. There is something about the Q glyph, for me, that is just beautiful.

I also have absolutely no qualms about paying for a modern re-creation of Baskerville. There are tons of options out there, though I am particularly fond of ITC New Baskerville Cyrillic (though it is a bit's still very good). I haven't dropped the $ for New Baskerville FS (by the FontSite foundry)...but it looks to be a very well done version of the original Baskerville.

I am working on a role playing game ruleset that I intend to publish for free digital download. I want to maintain minor control over the layout and typography of published works that utilize this ruleset (since the rules will be open and I encourage writers to create their own adventures that are compatible with the ruleset). Since it is my desire that published works follow a standardized template, I need a set of fonts that can be distributed openly. I have found several which can be used for headings and such, however, the font that I would like to use for the main text is Baskerville.

I have searched high and low, and I cannot find a version of the Baskerville font that is free (aside from OpenBaskerville...which isn't complete).

So, I am looking for an alternative to Baskerville that is can be distributed and use with little to no restrictions.

I have already looked at Gentium, which I really like, but it's not Baskerville ;) I have also looked at Day Roman...but I didn't find an italic version of it. I have also found SerifBeta (by the Betatype foundry...i.e. Christian Robertson's fonts). I really like SerifBeta, however it is still in "beta" format and I am not sure it will be free when Christian finishes it.

The font must be a Serif font, it must also have an italic version (not oblique). I would also prefer to have a bold (with corresponding italic), but it isn't a requirement. It also must be free for commercial use.

So, font experts, what are my options?

Thanks in advance for your recommendations!!!

Khaled Hosny's picture

There is Baskervald from ADF.

Urieal's picture

@Richard I like Open Baskerville, but it's incomplete and there is no italic version.

@ Khaled....thank you SO MUCH!!!! Baskervald is EXACTLY what I was searching for. It's beautiful! Thanks again!

Ask and you shall receive! I should have just posted here months ago and ended my search! :) You guys rock!

flooce's picture

There is Pevensey at Myfonts, which (as far as I read here) is a baskerville interpretation and it costs around 10 USD a weight.

Richard Fink's picture


"I like Open Baskerville, but it's incomplete and there is no italic version."

True. And unfortunate. A big downside for me, too.

Thanks Khaled. I'm not sure if I have Baskervald in my collection from ADF or not - looks like a fairly recent addition - but you focused me in on it.

Urieal's picture

Is anyone having problems with Baskervald? I can get the Normal and Italic fonts to install, but when I install the Bold and BoldItalic, then it causes problems.

Bold is actually Bold-Italic.

Urieal's picture

The problem seems to only manifest itself in Windows, I tried the font in Ubuntu and it didn't have any problems. I get different issues, depending on if I use WinXP or Win7...but both exhibit errors.

Urieal's picture

Still working on a fix...

I've emailed the author about it.

quadibloc's picture

I had not tried to use the bold. I see that bold and bold italic are not identical; the alphabet is bold italic in both, but the ampersand is correctly bold but not italicized in the bold.

quadibloc's picture

It works properly in Open Office 3.1 under Windows as well.

However, I found that one could at least access (as a separate typeface) the Baskervald Heavy. But that is, as your illustration shows, much bolder than the bold, which I can't even past into a WordPad document from an Open Office document.

However, while encoding problems (usually related to code pages) with some fonts in WordPad are solved in Corel WordPerfect, an older version of which I have, this problem remains in that program as well - it isn't just limited to Microsoft programs.

Michel Boyer's picture

To me that looks just like a naming problem. I adjusted a few names and the font now also works with Word on my mac. Since the license allows, here is the zip (zip file 176K); no guarantee, as usual...

Urieal's picture

@Michael, thanks for the files...unfortunately, they didn't fix my issue.

It is certainly something within MS Office (Wordpad works fine!). I'll scour the knowledgebase today, hoping to find something.

Michel Boyer's picture

Could you try again. I just modified the names so that the "Preferred family" be left empty if identical to ID 1.

Urieal's picture

I re-downloaded from the above link and it still doesn't fix the problem. What's more, is that when I set the fonts to 9pt in MS Word, they ALL show up as BoldItalic. When I set them to ANY OTHER font size, then work as previously (all the fonts show up correctly except the Bold font).

This just keeps getting more and more odd. This ONLY happens on the fonts that you have modified. The original Baskervald fonts do not exhibit this behavior.

Michel Boyer's picture

This is weird indeed. I have no idea what the problem can be. I am used to "fixing" fonts for the mac, not for windows.

Urieal's picture

It looks like I was able to fix the problem.

I opened each font in Fontforge, then I opened the OS/2 attributes (Element -> Font Info -> OS/2). Under the "Metrics" Tab for each font, I enabled the check box titled "Really use Typo metrics", which is an additional bit that MS looks for. Under the "Panose" Tab, I changed various parameters to be more in line with the information I discovered in Yannis Haralambous and P. Scott Horne's book, Fonts & Encodings.

Once this was done, I simply re-generated the fonts and then installed them. I also incremented the version number to 1.021 (because it took me several tries to get it right...and I wanted to make sure Windows was showing the latest version).

Here's a link to the fixed files.

I have emailed a copy of what I have done to the original author (we have been exchanging emails). FontForge didn't like the DSIG tables encountered in the original OTF files, and some information/data may have been removed. Hirwen will probably generate his own fixed version of the font (which I would prefer anyway).

Té Rowan's picture

There are several tables that FontForge ignores. It dows, however, know how to put in a dummy DSIG table. Apparently, some versions of Windows looked for the existence of one to determine if a font was OpenType or not.

Richard Fink's picture

The simplicity of @font-face is looking better and better all the time.

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