December 7th, 2015


Scraping the nadir of typographic kitsch

I don't think I've ever mentioned it here before, but digital typography is one of the true loves of my life. Back when I had more time, I used to contribute lengthy articles to TUGboat, the journal of the TeX Users Group. Nowadays I mostly dally in reproducing curious old paper documents, since it's something I can work on a few minutes at a time.

It's often said that the 19th century represented a nadir in typography, but I find many documents typeset in this period to be charmingly kitschy. Last month I tried my hand at reproducing "Persecution of New Ideas", a notorious quacksalver's advertisement from an old 1875 railroad atlas. Here is the original and its LaTeX reproduction, warts and all:

Though there were some tricky bits, on the whole this wasn't terribly difficult to reproduce. The source code (and the generated PDF) is now available in a GitHub repository.