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Re: Ye Olde Englishe
- To: Multiple recipients of list BOOK_ARTS-L <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
- Subject: Re: Ye Olde Englishe
- From: Ron Koster <psymon@ISTAR.CA>
- Date: Fri, 8 Nov 1996 12:59:57 -0500
- Message-Id: <199611081819.KAA13002@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
>James Mosley has a wonderful short essay on the subject, which I think is
>only available from the St. Bride Printing Library.
Thanks for that one, and to everyone else responding -- please keep 'em coming!
>At any rate, a nice introduction to early typography is Warren Chappell's
>_A Short History of the Printed Word_.
Funny you should mention...I'm on a small vacation (although I obviously
still have access to my e-mail) and that's one of the books I brought with
me! It is quite a good "Short History", but it doesn't go into much (if
anything) about those long esses, etc. Thanks for the tip, though -- if I
hadn't known about it I certainly would have wanted to.
To summarize Ronald B. McKerrow's article (that I mentioned in my first
posting), this is what he says of early typographic rules (as a general
rule), which is basically all that I have learned so far. I won't go into
all the variations and things he discusses, just the basic rules for
typesetting that were followed (generally) in the early days of printing
(i.e. these are not hard and fast rules found all the time everywhere --
see the original article for more info)...
- "f" (i.e. "long ess") was used initially and medially, with "s" finally
- only one capital letter, "I", for "I" and "J", and one capital letter,
"V", for "V" and "U".
- most fonts had lower case "i" and "j", but "j" was only used in the
combination of "ij" as a ligature.
- the use of "v" and "u" had to do with placement: "v" used at the
beginning of a word and "u" medially, thus "vse" "euent" and "vua" (= latin
- "Rimes and puns show that the Elizabethans *called* V by the name we now
give to U (hence W is called double-u)" [quote]
- "w" is often represented by "vv" in early fonts, as well as in later
fonts of extra large size [etc.].
The article goes into much more length on all of this, of course,
discussing ligatures, etc.
I guess the one thing it doesn't discuss, and which I am a loss to discover
anywhere, is *why*? Why have different esses? Why use "u" or "v" according
to position and not for phonetic reasons? Being of Dutch ancestry and
having some knowledge of the pronunciation of words in that language, I can
*almost* understand the "i" and "j" thing...but then...not quite that
Hmm. This is very perplexing indeed. Please keep your responses coming
though, if you can!
PS. Please also see my somewhat related posting on "A Letter To An
Imaginary Friend", if typographic history is of particular interest to you.