Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents

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Is your problem letter a capital letter?
Capital letters can be very difficult to read, partly because they are prone to be made idiosyncratic by individual writers. Some are more elaborate versions of a lower case letter, such as the letters P, S and L below:

capital letter Pcapital letter Scapital letter L

In some cases straight strokes are turned into into curled strokes, like the letter T below:

capital letter T

Double letters may be used as capitals. This form of capital is very rare, except in the case of the letter F, as in the word Freehould, below:

the word Freehould written with an initial double f to indicate a capital F

The letters C, G, O, S and Q are formed partly or wholly from curled strokes. For example the first letter below is the letter Q. The second letter is the letter C, which has, confusingly, been 'filled in' with a horizontal stroke. The third letter is a G, which has been filled in with a vertical stroke

capital letter Qcapital letter Ccapital letter G

Sometimes a capital letter has been formed, or had emphasis added to it, by adding another stroke (what we might term a shadow stroke) to the vertical stroke. The process can be seen below in the letter B, formed by three strokes of the pen: a vertical stroke (in this case curling backwards), a squiggle like a 3, and an underlining stroke to the link the two:

the formation of a capital letter B

Sometimes a writer will stretch a letter, usually a capital letter, to emphasise the start of an important word or clause in a legal document. In the example below the first five letters in the words THE Testament are capitalised, and the letter H in the word THE stretched to emphasise (in a page of closely written script) that this is a new testament beginning:

The initial words of a new document emphasised by the use of capital letters viz “THE Testament…”

If this hasn't solved the problem try another option:

Superscript Marks
Double Letters
Ligatured Letters
Idiosyncratic Letters
Bad Writing

Return to the Problem Letters page.