We've just installed a display of archival material relating to David Patten's original designs for Industry and Genius, the sculptural tribute to John Baskerville (1706-1775). It's probably the world's only public monument commemorating the development of a typeface, and could originally be seen on the site of his former mansion outside the present-day Baskerville House in Centenary Square. Patten's drawings and photographs of the maquette for the piece highlight the differences between his original plans and the much lower monument that was finally installed there, ostensibly on health and safety grounds. Individual bronze letters on each of the six columns of Portland stone that make up the central section of the piece spell out the single word Virgil, the Roman poet whose works were printed by Baskerville in 1757. It was the first time that he'd used the typeface that now bears his name.
Planned in collaboration with Caroline Archer-Parré from the Typographic Hub, the display coincides with an exhibition of posters celebrating John Baskerville's achievements as an 18th-century entrepreneur, designer and craftsman who had a significant influence on the development of typography and book design. These have been created by staff from the School of Visual Communication's Graphic Design team to mark the publication of John Baskerville: art and industry of the Enlightenment. Edited by Caroline and Malcolm Dick, it's the first scholarly appraisal of Baskerville’s work for more than forty years. They'll also be a talk about his life and legacy at Parkside on Wednesday 8 November.
One question though: does anyone know where Patten's monument is now?