Baskerville MT, Italic

lucadelcarlo's picture

Currently finishing the layout of a work on architectural theory and aesthetics, originally published in English, though now it's the German edition I'm involved with. We've replicated the design in most aspects, however the Baskerville italic used extensively throughout for titles, references, introductory quotes... it just looks very tight and condensed by default (or perhaps even more so in the German, contrasting with lengthier words).

Is it a kind of type crime to stretch the font ? I recall hearing it's preferable to use another font altogether if the italics look wrong.

PabloImpallari's picture

A handy album of many Baskerville Italics by different foundries
http://www.myfonts.com/users/3w34xhi0m5/albums/648498/

We (Me and Rodrigo Fuenzalida) are also working on a new Baskerville, optimized for web body text. It's not yet ready, but will be soon. Currently we are at Beta40
http://www.impallari.com/projects/overview/libre-baskerville

hrant's picture

Yes, don't stretch it. Using another font is a much better compromise; ideally you would find something that says to German readers what Baskerville says to English readers (assuming Baskerville was originally a good choice).

Pablo, I think your project is a great opportunity to reduce the confusion of calling the Fry's cut "Baskerville".

hhp

John Hudson's picture

find something that says to German readers what Baskerville says to English readers

Walbaum?

PabloImpallari's picture

hrant: Our main goal is to make a Baskerville that looks good on web browsers when set at small sizes (12, 14 and 16px). Optimized vertical metrics, less contrast, wider, etc.

I don't know if this will reduce the confusion, or increase it :)

hrant's picture

My point is only concerning what you call it: to me its Fry's lineage necessitates the name to reflect that, since the differences compared to Baskerville's original design are significant. Sort of how so many "Garamond" fonts are actually Jannon revivals.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Yes, revivals of Fry's types should not be called Baskerville.

lucadelcarlo's picture

This is a terribly good suggestion, and now contemplating redoing the layout, which is no small task at this stage. The suggestion just makes sense. We've translated the book into a new target language, so why stop there – why not the font as well? How important do others find this; is it essential?

The book is by an influential Finnish architect, originally penned in English, now translated into German. Comments very appreciated.

hrant's picture

So it's about Finnish architecture? I guess Baskerville's Roman sort of makes sense, at least for the English; but not the Italic. Walbaum's makes more sense (although I myself have no idea whether Walbaum has the same tenor for Germans as Baskerville does for English readers).

I'm starting to think you should entirely ignore the original font choice and simply find a typeface that says "Finnish architecture" to Germans (or failing that, to anybody).

hhp

lucadelcarlo's picture

Thank you, and I'm assuming switching out both the regular and italic rather than just the italic, is best?

You know, what the Baskerville to me says, in conjunction with the subject matter, is really a point of interest. The book has recently been republished (in English) by another press in an updated edition, and totally redesigned. I'm more fond of the original Baskerville, somehow. The text itself is a weighty contribution to architectural theory in the area of phenomenology, condensed into a book containing less than 100 pages. A degree of humility is expressed in its brevity, in what is otherwise a heavy philosophical treatise. The Baskerville is elegant and light, and again, this relieves some of the weight, for me. Perhaps Walbaum does the same? It's difficult to register as a non-native German speaker, but this question of a kind of equivalency in interpretation of styles across cultures, is very interesting.

lucadelcarlo's picture

There are a good number of references to Finnish architecture, but the author is well known beyond, and it's really most broadly about phenomenology (engaging all the senses, with regard to aesthetic experience), not just architecture.

Is it the cramped condensed quality of Baskerville that makes it poor choice in the italic, anywhere? What is it about Walbaum, if you can kind of find it, that speaks to you as more sensible here?

hrant's picture

If it's a discourse about architecture in general then Baskerville actually makes good sense; the Roman has some "constructed" qualities, without being at all mechanical. But the Italic* is way too mannered - Walbaum's is much more sober. Another possibility is The Foundry's Wilson.

* To me a serious weakness in the design - it's like JB spent just the last two months of those seven years making it.

hhp

Lars Kähler's picture

Full ACK (to Hrant’s opinion). Just do what you want. I don’t see any relationship between Finnish architecture and the use of the Baskerville.

lucadelcarlo's picture

Is it a type crime to use Baskerville for the roman, and Walbaum for the italics? It's a Montotype Baskerville, not designated actually as Roman...

Freya – a powerfully suitable thought as well. Paljon kiitoksia (Tänks).

hrant's picture

Mixing fonts like that is unlikely to work out (plus it's more tedious to typeset). Unless you're really lucky.

I like Freya (although I'm not crazy about the Italic).

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I don't recommend mixing Baskerville roman and Walbaum italic: although they belong to close periods of style, and are both associated with forms of neo-classicism, Baskerville marks the typographical beginning of this style, while Walbaum belongs to the transition to Romanticism. The context here is that English and French typography had distinctively neo-classical typography (Baskerville and Fournier) and then distinctively Romantic typography (mostly using imported types in Britain); while Germany went fairly directly to the Romantic style but not with such extreme forms as the French and Italian. Hence Walbaum, which is classed as Romantic, but which is generally considered easier to work with than Didot or Bodoni.

All that said, and following Nick's suggestion to use a new typeface by a living designer, I would recommend taking a look at Ingeborg, which is in the Walbaum tradition but even better suited to running text. I think it is one of the best products of the type design MA programme at Reading.

Romantic types lend themselves to fairly short texts of the kind you describe, that benefit from slow and thoughtful reading. This is why they are often used for poetry and essays.

lucadelcarlo's picture

Looking at samples, I find the Walbaum italic ideal, but the main face less so. The clarification of styles, and transition periods was immensely interesting and will be quite useful for the future. More review, then deciding....

lucadelcarlo's picture

Experimenting now with Walbaum... it really appears less elegant to my eye, but I suspect it would appear more normal to German readers. Other versions should be sampled, h0wever, initially, the weight throughout most of the line more dense.

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