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Can anyone tell me when small caps became a regular fixture of the typographic landscape? I am asking because I am in something of a quandry over which Didot to license for a personal project setting French poetry from the turn of the 19th century.
I've narrowed my wish list down to either Linotype Didot (which has small caps) or HTF Didot (which has optical sizes). I'm leaning toward HTF Didot, but the absence of small caps strikes me as a limitation I would likely regret later... but perhaps NOT if it was standard period practice to use roman caps where today we would use small caps.
This question was prompted by a series of specimens on the H&F-J website in which the first line of a body of text was set in roman capitals - possibly implying that the designer was following period practice in not supplying small caps. For example:
I have already perused the very informative "Which Bodoni" thread from some time ago, which mentioned both typefaces very favorably, but am also interested in your thoughts on the specific tradeoff - given that the use I have in mind places a premium on "authenticity."