FontLife

by | Jul 8, 2024

Out of the blue, I experienced a Baskerville event.

The Colophon, A Book Collectors Quarterly, Part 9, 1932, (detail). Font: Baskerville, 14/15 pt.

●  Firstly, as I make a point of identifying all the typefaces appearing in the publications that I discuss, I proffered “an obscure Baskerville” for type in a 1932 edition of The Colophon, in a post about the invention of the Cherokee alphabet. Certainly, I would have been more specific had I been better informed, naming the particular foundry, but this Baskerville did not correspond to any in the Shinnstitute’s various type specimens.

John Baskerville of Birmingham, Letter-Founder & Printer, F. E. Pardoe, Frederick Muller Limited, London, 1975, 7 x 9½”. Letter, 5½ x 7”.

●  A few days later, I happened to get together with my good friend Tony Sutton over a few beers, as we are apt to several times a year, at which point gifts are exchanged in the form of old books. Tony gave me a copy of the F. E. Pardoe biography of John Baskerville (Frederick Muller Ltd., London, 1975), which he thought might amuse me, especially on account of the accompanying collection of typed letters by Pardoe to the previous and first owner, a Dr. Freer of Johannesburg—documents of incomparable civility. In the book’s final few pages are noted two or three obscure cuts of Baskerville. Now that impressed me and my magical thinking.

Typeface: Baskerville.

●  Thirdly, I had run out of Scotch and, upon perusing the selection at my local liquor store, was taken by a bottle of Basil Hayden, in particular by what appeared to be a metal band and logo clasp (similar to those found on the better class of handbag and their knock-offs) around the bottle, cinching a document resembling an 18th century title page, which was the whiskey’s label. Suitably intrigued, on the principle that any company that would entertain such a diabolical piece of packaging might also present an engaging tipple, I purchased the thing. Then, back home, I realized that the typeface on the label was—Baskerville!