Origin of binocular g?

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Shreyas Sampat's picture
Joined: 15 Sep 2003 - 11:00am
Origin of binocular g?

I’m not precisely a historian of type, and so this question has been irking me lately… Where did the binocular g come from? It looks to me like it evolved from a cursive letterform, but it’s not accompanied by other cursivised forms, in most cases (such as the 3-like z and delta-curved d). (Which is unfortunate, because I’d love to see a face influenced by those forms.)

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am

You can see the evolution of the g buy looking a examples of Insular Minuscle and Caroline Minuscule.

d's picture
Joined: 30 May 2003 - 11:00am

here something to start..... * The Book of Durrow - early 5th to early 6th century * The Book of Kells - middle 6th to early 7th century * The Book of Lindisfarne - late 7th century src="http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/29/16234.gif" alt="g=g">

Nathan Matteson's picture
Joined: 16 Dec 2002 - 11:00am

Re-reading Gill’s Essay on Typography I just found this:

¶Again, take the letter G. The evolution of our modern small g is seen to be chiefly due to the prevalence of & consequent familiarity with hastily scribbled forms (see fig. 3). [below] Nevertheless, in no case does the scribe imagine he is inventing a new form; he is only concerned to make well or ill the form with which he is familiar.
¶By the sixth century a form of writing obviously more natural to penmanship (see British Museum Harl. MS. 1775) had been evolved. And the process continued until all resemblance to the Roman original was hidden (see B. M. Add. MS. 24585).
¶I am not concerned to describe in detail the history of the process in its technical and economic significance. The point that chiefly concerns me is that, with whatever tools or materials or economic circumstance (that is hurry & expense), the artist, the letter-maker, has always thought of himself as making existing forms, & not inventing new ones.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

The evolution from 4 to 5 seems suspicious.

» “the artist, the letter-maker, has always
» thought of himself as making existing
» forms, & not inventing new ones.”

The ones of a livestock mentality, certainly.


Claudio Piccinini's picture
Joined: 11 Jan 2003 - 9:32am

I think just looking at the g in most samples of Carolingian Minuscule will give you a good idea on how to shift between the different g-forms back and forth in history. The more you’ll get, anyway, the most complete the picture will be. Gill’s example may be misdirecting, since the samples are all redrawn by himself. (Hi, Nathan, anyway! Hope you’re OK! :-) )

Luke's picture
Joined: 24 Aug 2003 - 3:21pm

the evolution of the capital A is also pretty interesting — morphing through time and much usage from a basically stylised ox head, with the apex originally facing down, to what we see today.

Joe Pemberton's picture
Joined: 8 Apr 2002 - 3:36pm

The evolution of the ampersand from Latin ‘et’ to & is
equally fun (even if it took fewer steps.)