Medieval Writing
The History of f

The letter f could be somewhat variable in the early scripts, but became more standardised over time. One of the most noticeable variations does not show up so well in this particular style of presentation, as f is sometimes tall with a long ascender, and sometimes sits lower on the line with a descender. In some scripts it extends both above and below the smaller letters as a very tall letter.

square capital F In the Old Roman square capitals, F has a familiar right angled open form. In this script, all letters are of equal height.
rustic capital F In the rustic capital script, it is much the same, but wit the slight curve to the lines typical of this script.
uncial F The uncial F is similar in general form, but sits lower on the line, with a tail hanging down and slightly curved.
New Roman cursive f In this example of New Roman cursive, the minuscule f is tall, extending above and below the other letters, and curved.
In the pre-Carolingian minuscule scripts or National Hands, f varies somewhat between the uncial form and that derived from New Roman cursive, with a few eccentric variations. Where the letter is very tall, it is generally only distinguished from s by the cross bar, as both letters tend to have very similar vertical elements.
half uncial f In a 6th century half uncial script it sits low, as in the uncial form, although in this example the top has bee simplified from three strokes to two.
Corbie ab f In the specialised book script Corbie ab it extends above and below, with a curved ascender and straight descender.
old Italian f An old northern Italian book hand of the 8th century displays a form closer to the uncial, with a split top.
Germanic f This example of Merovingian minuscule or Germanic book hand shows a clean and simple example of the New Roman cursive type.
Luxeuil f The other named special Merovingian book hand, Luxeuil minuscule, has a quite peculiar form, with a curved split back and a closed loop rather than a curved top and crossbar. This is a unique form of the letter.
Visigothic f In the Visigothic script, it is simple and straight.
insular half uncial f The formal script known as known as insular half uncial employs a form closely related to the uncial. In this example the descender is short, even though the letter sits low on the line. It is slightly split at the back.
insular minuscule f This 10th century example of insular minuscule is very similar, with a more markedly split back.
Beneventan f In Beneventan minuscule the letter is tall extending above and below the others.
Merovingian chancery f The tendency for vertical extension and horizontal compaction in Merovingian chancery script has made f into a very tall skinny letter.
old curialis f In the old curialis of the papal chancery, it is twisted into a loop rather than equipped with a crossbar.
The Carolingian scripts generally adopted a fairly standardised form of f.
Caroline minuscule f In a formal rounded version of Caroline minuscule it has become simple and open with a curved ascender. It extends only a very small amount below the baseline.
Caroline minuscule f A sample from a forged 12th century monastic charter shows a similar form.
later curialis f The later papal curialis of the 11th century has adopted this standard letter f.
papal f By the 12th century the diplomatic minuscule of the papal chancery has produced a very tall narrow letter with a closed loop at the top, but it does not extend far below the baseline.
Imperial f The 12th century diplomatic minuscule of the Imperial German chancery has added a few of its trademark squiggles to the top of a straight ascender.
In the formal Gothic book hands, the Carolingian f does not change its essential form, varying only in details and degree of angularity.
protogothic f This protogothic f from a 12th century French book hand entirely resembles a Caroline minuscule f.
rotunda f The 14th century Gothic rotunda version of the letter is much the same.
textura f This 13th century Gothic textura f of medium grade is somewhat wider.
prescissa f The very formal Gothic prescissa, displays neat angles rather than a curve on the ascender.
textura f A relatively informally written late 15th or early 16th Gothic textura script fits the same general pattern.
textura f A 15th century Dutch language formal Gothic textura has added a tiny angular hairline to the base.
The standard and quite recognisable f develops a few variants in the later cursive scripts.
more about f
Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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