Scotch Roman

Typesetting my first book – choosing a typeface

For a school project, I’m typesetting my first book. I’ve read numerous Typophile threads on choosing a book typeface and consulted Bringhurst, but I’m buckling down to ask for some more specific advice.

Historical considerations:
Maybe this is a little “purist” for my first book, but I think that historical considerations for type warrant at least some consideration. Here is a summary of my admittedly haphazard research:

  1. Bram Stoker is Irish
  2. Dracula was published in 1897
  3. Vlad the Impaler was a 15th century Romanian Prince and inspiration for Count Dracula
  4. It seems as though Scotch Roman type was a common text face for the time it was published (at least in America?)
  5. The book takes place in England and Romania

A Scotch-inspired transitional


Over the last year or so I've grown quite interested in (roughly) nineteenth-century face styles around the Bell, Oxford/Monticello and Scotch Roman evolutionary tree. For a while now I've been working on designing a typeface based on some of the ideas I've had along these lines.

W.A. Dwiggins famously set out to tame Scotch Roman by blending it with modern features from William Martin's work, resulting in Caledonia. I wanted to try moving in arguably the opposite direction: exploring the possibilities found in Scotch's immediate precedents among the transitional types.

This is what I've come up with. I took some basic ideas from Scotch and Bell and tried to create something with a crisp and rational structure but a touch of nineteenth-century ornamentation.

Wikipedia, Bell and Scotch Roman

I was looking at the Wikipedia entry on Bell and some of what it says seems a bit weird. First of all, it describes it as "the first Scotch Roman face". Does that seem right? I thought Scotch Roman specifically referred to descendents of Miller's mid-nineteenth-century Pica Roman No. 2 and close facsimiles. Bell is a late-eighteenth-century transitional with many features in common with Scotch, but I wouldn't personally classify it as one.