Thai specimen books?

raph's picture

I'm getting interested in Thai fonts now, and would like to look at some specimen books. I've already found แบบตัวพิมพ์ไทย (Thai Fonts) in digital form (PDF) and am wondering if there's any place I can get it in paper form before printing it out myself. I'm also aware of Theppitak Karoonboonyanan's work maintaining the NECTEC fonts for Linux.

But what I'm really interested in is older, pre-digital specimens of high-quality Thai printing.

I have one gem already in my collection, Débuts de l'imprimerie en France: L'Imprimerie nationale. L'Hôtel de Rohan (see p. 160 for the "Siamois"). I have some other lower quality samples, like a book on printing "Foreign Languages" from the US Government Printing Office, but what I'm looking for is the good stuff, quality metal from the pre-digital era. Specimen books or just well-printed books are all welcome -- I want to do my averaging trick on the smaller sizes of text, and I am in particular interested in optical sizes for Thai, as I think those small loops and curlicues could be more robust in smaller sizes and smaller and more refined in larger.

Examples of excellent calligraphy and penmanship are also most welcome.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Jongseong's picture

I would love guides to finding similar information, i.e., pre-digital specimens of high-quality printing, examples of excellent calligraphy and penmanship, not just for Thai but other writing systems. I say this because I just had this thought looking at Xavier Dupré's Khmer typefaces the other day, and wondered if I should just go find well-printed Khmer books in the library and look at them, even though I don't read Khmer.

I don't imagine I would ever be able to design Khmer letters (I need only to think of all the things non-natives would get wrong trying to design letters in the Korean alphabet), and would be sceptical about the attempts of non-natives, but your averaging trick sounds promising. If one is to design a successful typeface in a writing system one doesn't read natively, your approach is the way to go about it, I think: fresh and well-thought-out revivals of pre-digital quality type.

Some sort of convenient repository of "quality type and lettering samples" for different writing systems would be nice. Maybe a job for the TypoWiki?

Bendy's picture

Ignore if not relevant ;)

Not predigital but check out Behaviour Group based in Sukhumvit, Bkk or Anuthin Wongsunkakon's work. These are possibly far too modern for your needs but interesting to me. There used to be a pdf booklet of all their designs but I'm getting a 404 for that now.

For a really interesting general background on Thai letter styles see How Do Thais Tell Letters Apart by Doug Cooper at the Center for Research in Computational Linguistics at Chula University in Bkk.

hrant's picture

Have you checked Monotype and Linotype?


Jongseong's picture

Thanks, Ben, for that linked article on telling Thai letters apart. I dared not even try deciphering Thai handwriting before, so different they seemed from the printed forms.

Bendy's picture

Yes, unfortunately I had to learn the hard way (living there for several years); still I wouldn't be confident enough to design a Thai font, although I can write Thai. I have only experience of what I've seen, not an appreciation of the historical derivations of the letters (which would help explain the differences between print and handwriting). Approaching type design purely as a linguist not so likely to be successful. Still, it's fascinating ;)

hrant's picture

I believe it's actually quite possible for a non-native to design type in a script he can't even read. Where you absolutely need nativity however is in the pushing of limits, the making of progressive typefaces.


Sindre's picture

I believe it's actually quite possible for a non-native to design type in a script he can't even read.

Though the Catalan Eudald Pradell was completely illiterate, he cut marvelous type. He's not know for originality or limit-pushing.

hrant's picture

I didn't know that about Pradell! Wow, what a great example.


raph's picture

Thanks to everybody for their suggestions. I've placed a scan up here (and the 2400 dpi original scan just by removing the _300dpi from the filename).

Monotype's current offerings look mostly licensed from other suppliers like UPC, but the Linotype ones were pretty good.

Here's an excerpt from that Debuts scan, in case people are interested:

John Hudson's picture

I knew of Pradell's types, but not that he was illiterate. This is fascinating. The other reputedly illiterate type maker I know of is the Indian punchcutter Ranoji Raoji Aru (1848-1922).

John Hudson's picture

I've put online a PDF specimen of the Thai types that Tiro developed for Adobe a few years ago:

Adobe Thai specimen

Obb's picture

Here are some of the Thai font foundries...

DB Font : They have some of the old style typefaces you are looking for.
Check out "DB Tagua X" in Vol.4, "DB Yam X" in Vol.5, "DB. Chokechai X" in Vol.7
or "DB Bradley" in Vol.8.

PSL Font: Another Foundry, and their examples are on the left side of the web.
Link: : Free Thai fonts, mostly handwritten fonts.

Hope this helps!

Bendy's picture

That Debuts scan's fascinating. I've never seen the heads centred on the stems like in ngo ngu, the vowel broken on neung into sara i and nikkahit, and the different treatment of the hood of lo ling and wo waen.

And why are there word spaces?

And what is the consonant here? To tahaan?

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