Medieval Writing
The History of g (2)

In the document hands and later cursive book hands, g could follow the neat Gothic form with two closed loops. It also appeared with other variants to the descenders, often a more cursively written script compensating for its hasty writing with some extra flourish, the descender becoming quite long and curving in different directions. In these scripts it is necessary to carefully distinguish g from q, which could also sport a curling descender. The variants seem to be almost selected from a smorgasbord, rather than following any consistent pattern of choice for script style, quality or epoch.

protogothic g In this formal protogothic example from the 12th century, the curling descender has an exravagant oblique form.
protogothic g In a less formally scribed writ of the reign of Henry II, the fundamental form is the same, but the penmanship is less flourishing.
Gothic document g A calligraphic charter of the 13th century displays a variant on the Gothic g, combining a long curving tail to the letter with an oblique hairline closure to the bottom loop.
cursiva anglicana g This example of cursiva anglicana, which first appeared in the 13th century, shows the Gothic g with a slightly enlarged lower closed loop.
Gothic charter g In this formal ecclesiastical charter of the 13th century, the descender of g forms a large and lavish oblique closed loop.
English chancery g In the formal English chancery hand of the 13th century, based on cursiva anglicana, the neat little double looped Gothic form is produced in a more curvy, less angular, style.
English chancery g This example from an early 13th century writ is very similar.
French cursive g This 14th century example from a French cursive document hand shows a different method of forming the letter, by first producing an open letter like y with a strange kinked descender that curves back the opposite way to the usual. The top of the letter is then closed with a separate horizontal slash.
cursive book hand g In this early 14th century cursive English book hand the g has a long tail as well as a fine oblique closing line, like the calligraphic Gothic charter hand shown above.
charter hand g This example from an English 15th century charter shows the form with double closed loops.
charter hand g In another 15th century charter, the letter is essentially the same.
batarde g This version of French bâtarde script displays an open horizontal descender. The top is a simple closed loop, but the top horizontal section cuts through the vertical rather than making an angular closure.
late chancery g In the later English chancery hand, as shown here from an Elizabethan document of conservative penmanship and formal quality, g has two simple closed rounded loops.
document hand g In this genealogical document of late 15th or early 16th century, g is simply formed with an angled descender.
English chancery g This endorsement on a mid 15th century petition to the English chancery uses the y shape closed with a slash, and a reversed loop to the descender, as in the French 14th century example above.

Humanistic book hands, as usual, reverted to the simple form derived from Caroline minuscule.

Humanistic display script g This very plain example from a 15th century Italian book hand has a neat, compact form with closed loops.
late humanistic g This 16th century example dates from after the advent of printing. The neat and formal variant of two ellipses connected by a straight line emulates the form of the letter in contemporary typefaces, producing a clear, rounded letter, but one which must have been quite awkward and painstaking to write.
The letter g can be tricky to recognise in some early scripts, as well as in some later cursive styles. It seems to have been a letter that was subject to calligraphic flourishes.
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