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A recent discussion about the long 's' on typo-l reminded me to go dig
up some of my old photos of 18th century New England gravestones.
Some of these are of the entire stone, and blowing them up makes them
less sharp than I'd like.
I'm used to thinking of the long 's' as something that looks like a
lowercase 'f', but with the crossbar only extending out to the left
. However, like many things, it turns out to be a little more
complicated in practice.
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/fisk.jpg [13k]
If you look closely at the crossbars on one of the 'f's , you'll
see that the left and right parts of crossbar is actually composed of
separate strokes. This is what you'd expect if the crossbar was
carved after the stem, but I would have thought more effort would have
been made to make it look like a continuous stroke. In this case, the
long 's's crossbar is like the left side of the 'f', just as I would
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/of.jpg [35k]
However, sometimes the crossbar on the 'f' is a double curve instead
of a bar , and sometimes the crossbar on the long 's' is complete
. I don't often see the latter, so perhaps it should be considered
an error instead of an alternate form. I haven't seen any examples of
the long 's' with the left half of the double-curved crossbar.
Instead, when the 'f' has a double curve, the long 's' appears to have
an upward stroke on the left side . (Note the ligature!)
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/life.jpg [50k]
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/miss.jpg [68k]
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/blessed.jpg [33k]
All the above examples are roman. The italic form of the long 's'
appears to be without a crossbar  (although I have to admit that I
haven't paid enough attention to this to make any conclusions). This
looks really cool (although overly distracting) when you ligate them
. (Also take a look at the crossbar on the 'f'.)
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/blease.jpg [51k]
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/russell.jpg [23k]
Finally, what do you do when you remember (a bit too late) that there
isn't a capital long 's'? 
 http://www.fastanimals.com/type/gravestones/long-s/fifk.jpg [74k]