In a scene from the satirical musical, Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America: The Early Years, Thomas Jefferson tries to convince Benjamin Franklin to sign the Declaration of Independence. Franklin is reading the preamble:
Franklin: When in the course of human events…that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Purfuit of Happieneff?
Jefferson: That’s Pursuit of Happiness.
Franklin: “All your esses sound like effs, here”
Jefferson: “It’s stylish. It’s in, it’s very in.”
Franklin: Oh well, If it’s in…”
I was reminded of this sketch when I came across this September 12, 1907 card with following address:
Mrs Lizzie Milligan
28 Wedgeworth St
It was the first time that I’d ever seen the “ess that looked like an eff” in handwriting, and so I did a little research.
I learned that this special character, called the long s, was dropped from typefaces in the mid 19th century, but could still be found in handwriting through the end of it. Obviously our postcard author, Frank, was a holdover.
I loved the way it looked and came up with an idea: “What if we brought back the long s?” All we’d need was the rules for its use and we’d be on our way. Unfortunately, locating consistent usage standards proved more difficult than holding the attention of a child in a room full of squirrels.
So, rather than trying to follow any ruleſ, I decided to invent my own and uſe the long s for the reſt of thiſ blog poſt. I tried many wordſ with eſseſ in them to ſee how eaſy or difficult it waſ to read the wordſ. It didn’t take too long to conclude that there iſ a reason why the long s iſ dead. It juſt doeſn’t make much senſe to uſe it anymore.
So, on second thought, let’ſ not bring back the long s.
Sourceſ uſed in thiſ poſt:
Library of Congreſs