Perhaps because it’s reminiscent of typewriter output, Rockwell creates a sense of urgency as a text-face – that you’re reading direct from the author’s page without the intermediate delay of a compositor having to assemble the words or key them into a Linotype or a laptop.
Newshound nostalgia? Again maybe, but Rockwell still passes the essential test of text-face acceptability: it’s easy on the eye, whether reading or just looking. And although primarily used as a display face – informational signage at Expo 86 in Seville and the Docklands Light Railway in London are good examples – it’s not without distinction in the body copy stakes.
No less than an all-time world best-seller chose Rockwell for a series of editions in the 1990s. If you collect Guinness Book of Records annuals, you’ll find it there. The face is yet another from the Monotype foundry and was released in 1934 from a design project led by Frank Hinman Pierpont. It is defined a as a geometric slab serif face but with several unique characteristics, including differences in spacing and letter weight.
Although only 13 years off its centenary, Rockwell’s popularity is undiminished. It has now been digitised and a lookalike is also available from Bitstream.