It’s new font time…

Anyone who knows anything about the booky side of me knows that I love fonts. I try not to be too gimmicky about them and I avoid a lot of the “script” and “brush” fonts, as I’m not really a graphic designer doing posters, but I do try to find a font for a book body that suits the content.

For example…

In my Untime paperback compilation, I tried to match the supposed provenance of the book (I like the word “provenance” almost as much as I like “craquelure”) to its appearance, both interior and exterior.

I used Didot, a 19th-century French typeface with lots of thicks and thins, for the body, and discovered a rather nice Art Nouveau typeface which wasn’t Boecklin for the heads (CAT Childs).

These are JPEGS, so may look a little raggedy at a larger size (click to view):

The cover was also designed to convey the period, and I based it on this image that I discovered:


By the way, if you want to buy a copy of this fine 19th-century Vernian/Wellsian/Lovecraftian pastiche, click here.

Sherlock Holmes stories

My Sherlock Holmes stories present a similar challenge. I like to make them feel authentic in their presentation, and so far, I’ve been unable to discover the exact font used by the Strand Magazine in the body of these books. I’ve been using Bruce Old Style to produce this sort of thing (click to enlarge):


Drop caps are in Romantique, headings in Amarante (also used on the covers), running heads in New Baskerville (you have to use it somewhere in a Sherlock Holmes story!) and flowers are Bodoni Ornaments.

But I recently discovered a new family of typefaces, based on Scottish typefaces of the late 19th/early 20th century. Amazingly, it comes from Russia, so it has a complete Cyrillic implementation, but it also has lots and lots of weights, and even alternative stylistic sets, as well as proper small caps. It may not mimic the Strand perfectly, but it does have a lovely 19th-century feel to it, even as a laser-printed font (the designers did take into account the fact that this would not be letterpressed or even lithoed).

Again, click for larger versions.

So, I may start using this typeface, TT Barrels,  for Sherlock Holmes stories in the future. Any comments on these fonts?

Obviously, none of this applies to ebooks – you’re going to have to put up with less artistic typesetting, etc.

2 Replies to “It’s new font time…

  1. Mr. Ashton, your attention to detail, on so many levels, impresses me to no end. I wanted you to know that your books have seen me through my most challenging times in recent years, and for this I am most grateful.

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