type case layouts

In the days, way back, when there were characters like the ‘long s’ and ‘thorn’,

does anyone know where they went in the case ??. We all know what actually

happened when ‘J’ and ‘U’ arrived. I now wonder when that was exactly ….

J. Stafford-Baker The Happy Dragons Press, England.

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Your question probably has two sets of answers. In the Latin manuscript tradition U, u, j, and long s are firmly established as positional variants before printing arrived, as were a number of accented letters, digraphs, and a line or tilde to indicate an omitted m or n. The Italic version of the case would stop there, but English or nordic printers would need to add thorn, edh, etc. By the 17th century those who regularly printed in English would only have the long s and possibly thorn to place. Substituting Y for thorn in print and on gravestones seems to go rather far back. Then there’s upper vs. lower cases.

A graphic answer is at the Alembic Press site.

No doubt they would appreciate any bibliographic references they haven’t discovered.