Your favorite Baskerville?

jayson's picture

I'm choosing a typeface for a magazine, and I've decided that Baskerville is the one for me. The magazine is meant to have a sober, timeless feeling to it, without being intimidating or stuffy, and I feel that Baskerville hits all the right notes in that regard.
Now the problem becomes, which one? I'm choosing between several versions, including Linotype, URW++, Monotype, ITC, and Storm's Baskerville Original Pro.

We're printing on both uncoated and coated stock, usually at 9pt size. I've found that the first version I bought, from URW, tends to look too thick, and doesn't quite have the level of readability and lightness that I want. Of course, I could buy them all and experiment, but we're a small independent magazine, and the budget's not there for that.

I'd love to hear if anyone has an opinion about their favorite version of Baskerville, and why. Thank you!

hrant's picture

This is a very personal, untested opinion, but:
http://www.fountaintype.com/typefaces/baskerville-1757

hhp

jayson's picture

Here, by the way, is an example of a magazine using Baskerville that I really love. It's from 1983, so I don't know what they would have really been using at the time.

hrant's picture

Note however the fake Italics.
(BTW you're making me miss my DM days... :-)

hhp

jayson's picture

I did indeed note the fake italics! Funnily enough, as I've been using the real Baskerville italics, I've been a bit disappointed in them. They feel too tightly packed for my taste.

I wonder what technology Dragon magazine was using to set type in 1983, and how that would have resulted in fake italics?

hrant's picture

Baskerville's Italic is in fact by far the "weakest link" in the design, at least in my view. It's almost like ol' JB only spent like the last couple of months of those seven years on it...

I wonder what technology Dragon magazine was using

I have a bunch in the garage, and they might have a colophon of sorts, but please don't ask me to dig them up! :-)

hhp

jayson's picture

I have a batch from issue #2 through #114 (just missing a few) here with me. I will look and see.

I'm actually working with the original editor of The Dragon (1976-1980) on this new magazine, but unfortunately he can't tell me about the typographic conventions of the later '80s, when Baskerville arrived in its pages.

hrant's picture

BTW, this just hit me: you said you'll be using 9 pt, but Baskerville isn't built for that. You could use one with an inflated x-height (basically I'm thinking of ITC Baskerville) to look OK at smaller sizes, but that would be a joke.

hhp

jayson's picture

As you may have guessed by now, I'm using Dragon magazines from the mid-'80s as my model for type choices. At that time, they were fitting 1500+ words per page. I've measured their type, and as near as I can tell by comparing it to my own printouts, it's nine point Baskerville. It's possible they were using ITC, but it doesn't look like it to me. You can see for yourself in the sample I posted above.

jayson's picture

Reading more about Baskerville, I'm beginning to suspect my best option will be Storm's Baskerville 10, designed for smaller point sizes (10 and below). I was afraid that might be the case, as theirs is one of the most expensive.

I'm still holding on to hope that Monotype's Baskerville will work for me, but as you point out, it may not be suitable at that size.

David Vereschagin's picture

Mid-1980s means the magazine was probably phototypeset and the font would almost certainly have been provided by the manufacturer of the equipment. I’m only familiar with some of the Compugraphic machines from that time. I don’t know if they had their own version of Baskerville, but I wouldn’t doubt it. Compugraphic was swallowed by Agfa, which was then taken over by Monotype, if I recall my consolidations correctly.

Skyfonts.com has four different Baskervilles you can try out for free if you join the beta programme. (Have your specimen sheet template ready beforehand; they’re only free for five minutes at a time.)

David

hrant's picture

Actually beta users get 110 credits, and at 3 credits for 30 days that comes out to over 36 font-months of free trials. Or at 1 credit for one day you get 110 font-days.

hhp

Jackson's picture

Storm has the best Baskerville, hands down.

If you're looking for something Baskerville-ish you can check out my Harriet Series. A very similar conversation initiated its design.

jayson's picture

Wow, Skyfonts is amazing! I've never heard of it before, this is exactly what I needed.

jayson's picture

Thanks to Skyfonts, I was able to test-drive Monotype Baskerville, and I think it's going to work great. I'd love to be able to afford Storm, maybe after we've put out a couple of issues.

You guys really helped me out!

ncaleffi's picture

Jayson, maybe I'm late to the party, but: Monotype's and Storm's are at the opposite sides in terms of darkness and readability, the former being the lighter and the latter being the heavier. I'm not sure that Monotype's digital version would be the best choice for a magazine setting. Fountain's revival is an elegant rendition but maybe a bit too stiff for my taste; it also lacks the lining figures in the italics and doesn't have a bold (which could be limiting in a magazine). Storm's version looks like a more faithful rendition (compared to others), but I see its design more appropriate for books with a classical feel rather than contemporary magazines. For what is worth, I think that ITC New Baskerville, in its apparent averageness, is still the best Baskerville option for a magazine text setting. The sample you posted - fake italics apart - seems set in ITC's to me.

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