'E Kainè Diathéke Novum Testamentum. Juxta Excemplar Millianum. Typis Joannis Baskerville. Oxford: e typographheo Clarendoniano, sumptibus Academiae, 1763.
Call Number: (SPL) BS 1965 1763
Special Collections, Golda Meir Library
At one time a servant in a clergyman's house, John Baskerville became a skilled writing master, stonecutter, successful manufacturer of japanned ware, and finally was able to fulfill his life-long calling by opening his own printshop at the late age of fifty. Foremost a craftsman, Baskerville manufactured his own ink, developed a wove mold paper, and designed his own typefaces. One of his major accomplishments was a 1763 Bible printed for Cambridge University. Like most of his works, the Cambridge Bible was printed at a loss due to his insistence on original craftsmanship and exceptionally high-quality materials.
Baskerville also conducted business with Oxford University. The Delegates of Oxford University Press commissioned a set of new Greek types, for a "Greek Testament in Quarto and Octavo to be printed in Baskerville's letter." The Bible shown here, with separate old and new Testament volumes, appeared in 1763 to a mixed reception. One critic complained, "the Greek cut by him or HIS for the University of Oxford is execrable." Although neat and clean, his type deviated from the accepted aesthetic models and scale of the day, and was said to have a cramped quality. The work was perhaps judged unfairly, as Baskerville had intended his Greek Bible to be a scholarly work, rather than a "distinguished book" on the level of his Cambridge Bible.