The variety, or even the existence, of fonts was probably not generally recognized until the the considerable offering became available on the Macintosh computer, a result of a university course that enlightened Steve Jobs.
To satisfy those who now want a deeper knowledge of some major types, there is Simon Loxley’s Type is Beautiful. Fifty types, from early (eg Gutenberg’s Bible Type, 1415, The Aldine Italics , 1500) to modern examples (eg Doves Type, 1901, London Underground, 1916, and Guardian Egyptian, 2005). It is fascinating to learn of the development of fonts that are now so familiar to us.Even the almost universally derided, at least by many type-professionals, Comic Sans is included:
more than ten years after its rise to global prominence, Comic Sans still provokes its share of online abuse. One particular posting, dating from 2013, is composed of the kind of enraged invective we used to associate with ‘Angry of Tunbridge Wells’, turned up several notches in intensity, peppered with expletives and drenched in contempt for what the writer sees as the almost criminal stupidity of his fellow man.
To see what generated such spleen, read the book.