Giant typesetting blocks

Is this the world’s only monument to a typeface?

Virgil - Industry and Genius monument, Birmingham

Virgil - Industry and Genius monument, Birmingham

This monument currently stands over one metre tall in Centenary Square, Birmingham. The public artword, made in stone and bronze by David Patten in 1990, is rather grandly titled: Industry and
Genius.

What’s it for? It’s a tribute to John Baskerville, a printing pioneer, who lived and worked in the city. His home is recorded as being exactly where Birmingham City Council’s Baskerville House stands today.

The letters on the monument represent those printers used to use to compose their block on which prints would be made. The letters spell out Virgil, backwards, as they’d appear in the typeset. Baskerville printed the Roman writer’s works (in 1757) and ‘Virgil’ became the name of one of the fonts he designed.

More on Birmingham City Council’s webpage »

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