Industry and Genius
Between the Hall of Memory and Baskerville House, stands a sculptural tribute to John Baskerville. He had a japanning and paper-mache business among others, but is best remembered as a printer. He printed works for Cambridge University in 1758 and although a non-believer, printed a splendid folio Bible in 1763. Baskerville (1706-75) lived and worked at Easy Hill, a mansion then on the edge of town where Baskerville House (formerly the Civic Centre) stands today. It is thought that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have borrowed his name for one of his Sherlock Holmes stories.
On the columns of Portland Stone are reversed bronze letters spelling Virgil, the Roman poet whose works were printed by Baskerville in the famous typeface that bears his name, in 1757.
A poem in praise of the printer appeared in the Aris's Gazette in 1751, entitled 'Industry and Genius' from which the sculpture takes its name.
The artist 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.