The typography choices for this page were made with an eye toward my final project, which is about my long term research interest in the JA Ranch. The ranch is famous because of its founder, Charles Goodnight, and is popularly credited with the invention of the chuckwagon.1 Little is known, however, about the individual people who poured their own hopes and dreams into this way of life. Most encounter it through the lens of the mythology surrounding the American cowboy. My goal is to build a prosopography2 of Progressive Era ranch inhabitants that can be used to develop a better understanding of west Texas ranch culture during the period.
While there are many attractive "Western" fonts, they are too suggestive of the stereotypes of the 1890 cowboy - the very thing I am seeking to dispel. I want a display font with clean lines and a style suggestive of the early twentieth century. After following the recommendation of a professional printer to go to fontspace.com (insert link) for useful (and free!) fonts, I quickly identified F. H. Atkinson Modernized Ideal Classic as a candidate:
Frank H. Atkinson’s book Atkinson Sign Painting was published in 1909. For decades, this book served as the manual for sign painters - a handbook for hand lettering. Atkinson’s book described techniques, layouts and several sample alphabets. Modernized Ideal Classic was inspired by one of these demonstration alphabets. Although Classic has its beginnings in art deco, it is very comfortable in any period or style of design. It is most appropriate in headline and display text, poster copy and signs.
My next choice was a text style. The number of choices was bewildering. However, every text we have read for this class emphasises the wisdom of prioritizing simplicty and readability over decorative considerations. I elected to go to Google Fonts and to narrow my choices by readability and compatability with the simple lines of the display font. My choice for this assignment, which you are looking at right now, is Merriweather Sans.