[XeTeX] [OT] Free fonts for fontspec examples?

François Charette firmicus at ankabut.net
Wed Jul 14 12:16:02 CEST 2010

  On 12/07/2010 19:38, Peter Baker wrote:
> On 07/12/2010 11:44 AM, Will Robertson wrote:
>>> If you typeset the word λόγου with and without 'hist' you will see
>>> a difference.
>> Thanks for the suggestion; unfortunately I think these fonts only have historical 
>> ligatures (hlig) rather than historical alternates (hist).
>> Cheers,
>> Will
> I've got an impression that it's fairly common for the hist feature to include just one 
> entry: s --> longs. In my (ahem) new Eadui script font (at openfontlibrary.org) the hist 
> feature medievalizes the style, turning it from 
> old-fashioned-but-suitable-for-modern-text to nearly-a-manuscript-facsimile. Add in hlig 
> and it becomes so authentic it's nearly illegible.

[quite off-topic]

In 19th-century Rome, a prince and mathematician named Baldassare Boncompagni[1] ran his 
own publishing house and scholarly journal on history of mathematics and physics, the 
“Bullettino di bibliografia e di storia delle scienze mathematiche e fisiche”. Boncompagni 
was the editor of the works of Leonardo Pisano (Fibonacci) and was utterly obsessed with 
diplomatic (i.e. paleographic) accuracy. He employed a network of assistants throughout 
Europe who sent him expertly drawn facsimiles of historical documents (I have seen some 
spectacular ones in archives). He also attempted to reproduce sources in his journal as 
authentically as possible, and therefore his printing press eventually had an formidable 
collection of cast types at its disposal, for dozens of scripts, and for countless 
historical ligatures and abbreviations. In those days, printing 
nearly-a-manuscript-facsimile made some sense, as photographic or even lithographic 
reproductions were not yet possible. Yet later generations of scholars made fun of 
Boncompani's meticulous diplomatic craze. They would be quite surprised to learn that in 
the 21st century, people design digital fonts capable of doing exactly the kind of things 
cherished by Boncompagni!

This [http://openfontlibrary.org/content/psb6m/177/sample.png] is indeed fascinating and, 
I find, totally legible (so I assume it doesn't have 'hlig'?). Fortunately this is not a 
reproduction of, say, a 15th-century German scholar's handwriting, which would be per 
definitionem totally illegible :)

Still, I cannot refrain from asking: what is exactly the point of such fonts? Any edition 
of an historical text should be first and foremost legible and intelligible to modern 
readers, without distracting them. To accurately reproduce an original source, digital 
color photos do a far better job, no?


[1] http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldassarre_Boncompagni

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