A "Good" Modern Roman

quadibloc's picture

Some time back, I noted that I was not fond of most Scotch Roman typefaces, and yet there were some Modern faces that I liked in addition to Century Expanded and Century Schoolbook on the one hand, and Bodoni on the other.

Just recently, I found one book online that was an excellent example of what I thought of as a "good" Scotch Roman. It was entitled "Gravitation", and dated from 1835, and was written by George Biddell Airy, of fame in connection with the discovery of Neptune. While the book did not note its typeface, it did note its printer, and so I searched for other books by that printer, one William Clowes.

It turns out that this was a famous printing firm, being one of the early stereotype printers, and they made their own type. In addition to printing the Penny Cyclopaedia and the Penny Magazine, they also printed an edition of Lyell's Principles of Geology and Franklin's account of his expedition to the Arctic.

The italic, however, still looks odd and dated to modern eyes, but the roman seems to me to be a very friendly and human example of the Modern Roman.

andrevv's picture


blank's picture

Find a copy in a library and start digitizing.

Nick Shinn's picture

The italic appears to be of the more "modern scotch" kind.
Note that there is no flourish at the beginning of the "v", as one finds in Miller and Austin.

quadibloc's picture

I'm not saying that this face is necessarily as appealing to others as the one noted in another recent post, the "Transitional English Type" from Updike.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I had seen so many bad examples of Scotch Roman as to cause me to deprecate the entire genre. Finding one where the letters appear very well-proportioned is pleasing to me. But is it different enough from, say, Bell or Oxford to be generally useful?

After Times Roman, the next two most popular serif typefaces are Caledonia and Century Expanded, so there does seem to be a preference for the plainness of a Modern face if it is attractive enough - although Baskerville and Garamond, for example, are also still quite popular. And then there's Palatino and Weiss Roman.

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