I'd have to disagree that, typographically, this is distinct from a left single quote.  In the sample I'm able to observe, the character is as described by John Kennedy, below, with regard to relative height, but so are the other quotation marks elsewhere on the page.  (The homes of the New world : impressions of America, by Frederika Bremer.  New York : Harper & Brothers, 1853.  Vol. 1, p. 207).

My assumption had been that, historically, this was used as a substitute for a superscript c that may not have been available in a printer's type case.  In the example from Bremer, the modern rendition of the name is "McIntosh." On the other hand, I've seen at least one text that uses this left single quote for some names and a regular lower case 'c'  for others.  Perhaps at some point in the past such a typographical improvisation was reinterpreted as an orthographic standard for certain names and carried forward that way.

Vincent Morley provides the following commentary at www.typophile.com:
The use of a superscript 'c' in 'Mc' is somewhat old-fashioned, an ordinary 'c' being more usual these days. From the 18th century to the early 20th century an 'open single quote' was commonly used instead of a 'c'.

Perhaps it would be best to transcribe as found, but provide the regularized spelling as well for searching.


At 12:53 -0400 2008-05-13, David Sewell wrote:
Is the character distinct from these Unicode characters:

and any of the similar characters referenced on those pages? Or could it
be considered a variant of one or another?


On Tue, 13 May 2008, John W Kennedy wrote:

> Closely examining "André: a Tragedy in Five Acts", by William Dunlap (New
> York, T. & J. Swords, 1798), I see that the symbol is neither a superscripted
> c, for it has the basic comma shape, nor a left single quote, for, while it
> closely resembles one, it is closer to the baseline, so that it dips below x
> height, which a single quote does not do, and its top is well below ascender
> height, which a single quote meets.
> In short, I believe an application to the Unicode Consortium is in order; at
> present, this character is neither accepted nor in the pipeline. I would
> volunteer to shepherd it myself, but I am completely without credentials and
> so ignorant that I cannot even provide appropriate termini a quo & ad quem.

David Sewell, Editorial and Technical Manager
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