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whiteinge, I do agree now. Thanks for the clarification. Regarding blockquotes, you are correct.
Still, many, many designers continue to use image-based quote-marks for quotes, comments and so on, and if they still wish to enhance blockquotes that way, this method becomes useful.
My main reason for writing this article was to show that irregular characters can be used as drop caps, where many of us had previously found it too difficult. Bring on the exclamation marks, question marks, colons, hashes and so on.