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

Peter Baker psb6m at virginia.edu
Wed Jul 14 15:31:45 CEST 2010

On 07/14/2010 06:16 AM, François Charette wrote:
> 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 facsimiles of historical documents (I have seen some spectacular ones 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!

I love it! I'll try to get a look at his stuff.

> 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?

O reason not the need!

One of the nicest things about being an amateur in the Open Source world 
is that I don't have to worry about producing a thing that's useful to 
enough people to generate a reliable income stream. I cheerfully admit 
that I can't think of a lot of practical uses for this font in its 
"historical" mode (with hist, hlig and one or two other things switched 
on). But I really enjoyed making it.

Now in its default mode it has a number of compromises that make it a 
perfectly decent decorative font for various purposes. I use it for 
headers in Keynote presentations, and I have a scheme to use it for 
chapter heads, subheads and running heads in my current book project.


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