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These typefaces are based on various writing styles through time. For the most part, they are interpretations and syntheses of the many versions used in manuscripts by different scribes and artists, and so don't reflect one single variant of the writing style.
By interpreting the intent of the writers, it's possible to update some of the less-familiar letterforms so they are readable by modern eyes. For example, the many early half-uncial styles that were in use before the reforms of the early Middle Ages possesed several characters that are completely foreign to the casual reader today. These have been updated to more closely reflect the expectations of today's readers while maintaining the stylistic integrity of the original script.
In addition, many of the scripts lacked several modern letters: the j and w are relatively recent additions to the alphabet, and several languages did not make a distinction between the u and the v; and many scripts dispensed with the k, x, y, and z almost entirely.
The old-style long-s, (which evolved from the stretching of the capital and uncial S for speed of writing) is particulary difficult for modern readers, because of its similarity to the f; in these faces, the long-s is replaced with a more comfortable short s.
Along with the modernized forms, the older forms are available in separate Antique versions of the typefaces.
Copyright © 2000 by Gary Munch.