Baskerville is overrated

MatsP's picture

Everyone seems to praise the Baskerville typeface. I don't like it at all. I'm a Garamond guy.

MatsP's picture

I should perhaps add that I base my opinion on ITC's New Baskerville. It has that inflated x-height that I detest.

Dick Wynne's picture

Check out Storm's Baskerville

hrant's picture

Garamond is worse than Baskerville.

hhp

PublishingMojo's picture

Your opinion has a strong historical precedent, Mats. John Baskerville's 18th-Century contemporaries, accustomed to types of the Garamond style, disliked Baskerville's type so much that they claimed reading it would would cause damage to the eyes.

hrant's picture

In fact the preservation of Baskerville we owe to the French.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

The story of Benjamin Franklin's trick involves showing a person who complained about Baskerville a speciment sheet of Caslon, and telling them it was Baskerville. They made the same complaints. Both Garamond and Baskerville were great fonts. Some attempts at digital revivals mess them up, and the ITC version is too light. ITC Garamond is also bad for text. So I think it's which Garamond, which Baskerville, and which usage...

Martin Silvertant's picture

"Everyone seems to praise the Baskerville typeface. I don't like it at all. I'm a Garamond guy."
I don't see much wrong with either, though digital revivals are not always successful, and both typefaces have some fairly strong limitations in regard to application — at least in my opinion.

"It has that inflated x-height that I detest."
I quite like that. I mean, I personally like a medium to low x-height more, but I think the large x-height fits the typeface. It's quite a shocking design though, especially for the 18th century. I think that's exactly what attracts me though. Not that Baskerville is one of my favorites, by far...

Mats, what do you think of 'Baskerville' by URW++ (not URW Baskerville)? It has a lower x-height, lower contrast and has been made more contemporary.

I'm also curious what you think of Mrs Eaves.

hrant's picture

Well, ITC Baskeville isn't exactly 18th century - it's from the 1980s.
And I personally think that the spirit of the design actually prefers
a smallish x-height. It really wants to be set 12-14 point, where a
large x-height backfires.

Mrs Eaves? As some here know, I equate it to a beautiful woman with
a serious speech impediment. The black bodies are great, but the sloppy
and overly loose* spacing (which Robin Kinross has equated to a loose
bicycle) kills it for immersive reading.

* Contradicting the light color and small x-height.

hhp

Martin Silvertant's picture

Well, ITC Baskeville isn't exactly 18th century - it's from the 1980s.
Obviously ITC Baskerville isn't 18th century. I wouldn't expect fonts to be...
Even if it's a loose revival, for comfort's sake I will call it an 18th century design.

Mrs Eaves? As some here know, I equate it to a beautiful woman with a serious speech impediment.
Haha that's quite an accurate description in my opinion. I didn't state Mrs Eaves because I think it's a Baskerville-esque design gone well. I was curious to your opinions because I've always thought Mrs Eaves is really peculiar. I actually like the spacing though. I mean, I wouldn't use such loose spacing myself but somehow it gives the typeface more character. It stands out, for better or worse.

I never tried this (I don't have Mrs Eaves on my computer) but doesn't it look good/better if you reduce the tracking? I can imagine since it's not kerned for that, it won't.

hrant's picture

> loose spacing .... gives the typeface more character

That could work if it was a titling face, but to me a text
face can't achieve "character" by destroying readability.

> doesn't it look good/better if you reduce the tracking?

The problem is "boundary conditions", like the right side of the "r".

> it's not kerned for that

Speaking of which, I don't know what it is kerned
for since AFAIK it only has like 30-something pairs...

hhp

Martin Silvertant's picture

> That could work if it was a titling face, but to me a text face can't achieve "character" by destroying readability.
I agree with that statement but I'm not sure it completely applies to this typeface for a couple of reasons.
1. I don't think the spacing is so large that it really destroys the readability but I admit that's subjective.
2. Regardless of the spacing, I wouldn't set my book in Mrs. Eaves. The design isn't suitable for that. I'm not sure why you expect it to be.
3. I'm not sure about the intentions of Licko but she either realized the points we're making against Mrs. Eaves or Mrs. Eaves was more intended for display use from the beginning, because Mrs. Eaves XL was added with an expanded family so I conclude this one was meant for body text.

> Speaking of which, I don't know what it is kerned
I honestly have no idea myself. Mrs. Eaves is quite confusing to me.

hrant's picture

> I'm not sure why you expect it to be.

I expect any font's various attributes to harmonize with one another.

> Mrs. Eaves was more intended for display use from the beginning

I have to doubt that. I think she just made a mistake (the same
mistake that Peter Bilak, a designer I admire, made with Eureka,
although not as severely). BTW the XL came many so years later
that I don't think it was part of such a plan. Plus the XL's color,
spacing and proportions actually make it even closer to display
usage than the original.

hhp

Martin Silvertant's picture

> I think she just made a mistake (the same mistake that Peter Bilak,
> a designer I admire, made with Eureka, although not as severely).
But that's what I find so strange. Compared to them I would consider myself a novice and yet I wouldn't think of making this "mistake" — if it is that at all.

> BTW the XL came many so years later that I don't think it was part of such a plan.
Logically speaking I tend to agree. I just don't know though.

> Plus the XL's color, spacing and proportions actually make it even closer to display
> usage than the original.
Perhaps emphasizing that it was meant for display purposes all along. Whether that's true or not, I think it's a very bad thing that its purpose and application is so vague. I would really like to think that there were good reasons for the design and spacing because it's a little sad that this could be a genuine mistake.

litera's picture

This is not a type discussion board but a critique one for new typefaces. Go and talk about subjective matter in discussion forum.

zeno333's picture

Try looking at a version of Baskerville that is very close to the original from 1757.....Baskerville1757....Go to

http://marketplace.veer.com/type/FOT0000053

zeno333's picture

That "st" glyph is cool....that's not in the "free" version at the Fontpalace web site....Looks like the only real version is the Fountain version.....

Frode Bo Helland's picture

There is no “free” version of Baskerville 1757, and there is no “real” digital version of Baskerville. All digital Baskervilles are interpretations of the original, but it does not mean that they are all the same. Designers most certainly influence their revivals with skills, knowledge and taste. If I were you, I’d get hold of a PDF specimen of a couple of revivals (both free and paid), and compare them. Look at the up-close beauty of single letterforms, try your hands (eyes) at the real lakmus test for any text face: reading it in a paragraph, and consider their technical scope.

Sorry about the preaching :)

eliason's picture

Or, as we say in English, "litmus"! :-)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Takk, Craig :)

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