1892 Scotch Roman Variant?

I'm trying to identify a typeface used in an old sci-fi book, 'The Germ Growers', of which I have a PDF scan, freely available from the National Library of Australia. I'm including a raster sample below, which features a distinctive 'Q' and (I hope) a reasonable mix of uppers and lowers:

The print quality or resolution was too poor to get a good result from WhatFontis. Identifont suggested that it's "Escrow", and it's really close... but that didn't exist in 1892. Also, the eye of the 'b' and 'd' is a bit too full and round, and so generally with the miniscules... Escrow is just that much too wide to be a perfect match. A little digging revealed that Escrow referenced Monotype’s 1908 Scotch No. 36, but even that's too late.

The book was printed by J. S. Virtue & Co. of London, in 1892, if that helps.

Raph Levien suggested that it is similar to "Round-face on long-primer body, Farmer Little & Co", p.221 of De Vinne's Plain Printing Types, but noted that my sample has longer descenders. He reflected that that might be, "the biggest clue - most Scotch Roman and "Modern" fonts have fairly short descenders." He referred me to this board.

I'd really appreciate any help or suggestions.

kentlew's picture

The problem with the Identifont and Raph’s suggestions (in addition to the dates) is that your font was almost undoubtedly cast and sold in Great Britain, not America. It will be foundry type, not Monotype.

You’ll want to find specimens for British foundries of the late 1800s. Each probably offered a handful of Modern style fonts like this. Without a better sample, it may be difficult to pin down exactly which foundry this particular example was from.

This could also very well have come from one of the Scottish foundries in Glasgow.

It's a fairly common style from that period. I have a 1923 Stephenson Blake & Co. specimen and there are at least four Moderns for body text that get close. But by this time, SB had converted most of their fonts to alignment on the American Point Lining system. This alignment is what led to short descenders in many cases.

You’ll want to find samples from before the adoption of that standard.

shepazu's picture

Hi, Kent, thanks for the prompt and helpful response.

I don't know much about typefaces or their histories, or how to track such things down... is there any resource that points to which fonts were being used by which printers? I'm thinking it might be easier to identify the font if I knew what J. S. Virtue commonly used.

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