Industry and Genius

1990

‘Industry and Genius’ is a sculptural tribute to John Baskerville and is probably the world’s only civic monument to a typeface. John Baskerville (1706-75) lived and worked at Easy Hill, Birmingham in a mansion then on the edge of the city. ‘Industry and Genius’ stands on the site of the original mansion outside the current Baskerville House on Centenary Square, which is now in the heart of the city. The monument comprise six columns of Portland stone each representing a printing type, and on the face of each stone is a reversed bronze letter which in combination spell ‘Virgil’, the Roman poet whose works were printed in 1757 by Baskerville in the famous typeface that bears his name. At each end of the monument are two mutton quads on one is carved the words ‘John Baskerville’ and on the other ‘Industry and Genius.’ The title of the sculpture is taken from the title of a poem written in praise of the great printer and which appeared in the Aris's Gazette in 1751. The artist and sculptor of the piece is David Patten, born in Birmingham in 1954, and the monument was placed in Centenary Square in 1990 as part of the ICC 'Percentage for Art scheme'.