Birmingham is the UK’s foremost typographic city. Situated in the centre of Britain’s industrial heartlands, Birmingham was – and still is – home to John Baskerville: writing master, stone-carver, type-founder, printer, paper-maker, ink-producer and creator of ‘Baskerville’ one of the world’s most well-known and enduring typeface. However, Birmingham’s claim to typographic fame does not simply lie with the bones of Baskerville, for three centuries the spirit of this typographic mastermind has touched generations of the city’s printers, educators and designers.
In past times interest in printing centred on the productions of the London press. To be worthy of the name, a book must bear the imprint of a London printer, a tacit yet unfair admission of provincial weakness or inability. This was of course the direct result of the great monopolies and privileges vested in the London Stationers’ Company. But whilst the general interest in printing was thus drawn to the London press, every provincial town had its unwritten printing history, in its books, pamphlets and newspapers. In seeking therefore to place on record a description of the early productions of the Birmingham press, I have been actuated by a desire to show that most of our provincial towns have a similar story to tell, the interest and value of which cannot be estimated. [Hill, Joseph: The book makers of old Birmingham: authors, printers and booksellers]
This research will demonstrate the value of Birmingham’s contribution to print’s past - technical, economic, intellectual, and aesthetic - really cannot be estimated.
For more information on Birmingham's typographic heritage.