New Scotch Roman

Why a Revival of Scotch Roman
Based on a common letter of the middle of the 18th century as seen in specimens of the Fry foundry under the name of English, and redesigned and recut in Scotland, Scotch was a solution to the need for a letter which was legible in conditions that were less than ideal, such as the poor quality of paper and rude printing techniques. Another quality the letter possessed was the proportion of the capital letter, large and bold compared with the lowercase of the same size. It has long been viewed as a design flaw to be reduced, if not eliminated. In subsequent revivals of the design for technologically advanced typesetting equipment of the 20th century these characteristics were eliminated. It is the concept of modern typography that a well designed page presents a uniform character in which no features are apparent or distract the eye.

It is my opinion and the basis for this example that these design characteristics, relatively short lowercase height and added weight of the capital letters, directly relate to and reflect the various roles of the letters. The most common example in text is the initial capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. A relatively short capital letter that is close to the weight of the lowercase does not reinforce the rule but negates it. How much more easily confused are the letters that possess the same form in upper and lowercase: c, o, p, s, v, w, x, or z. Proper names are capitalized in order that they may graphically possess the dignity that we attach to them in language.

His Royal Majesty
The modern trend in type design has been to increase lowercase x height in order that a smaller size of type may be substituted for a design which has a smaller lowercase x height in a larger size. The resulting design may retain legibility as well as increase the character count, but it is at the expense of the proportion of the capital letter.

Finally, the proportion of the capitals in this revival of Scotch simplifies the variety of type required to fulfill the roles of bold and smallcap versions of the design. As the capitals are proportionally heavy when composed in a line, they provide emphasis that is normally only available in design families which include a bold version, while a smallcap that is in proportion with lowercase letters composed in a line is achieved when capital letters of a smaller size are composed in a line.

James Fergusson

Celtic Border