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Script Analysis - The Draft Ductus

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11 January 2007

Script Analysis - The Draft Ductus

From my list of script analysis questions :

Making a ductus to use to note letter construction

Take photocopies of several pages of the manuscript and cut out at least one clear example of each letter.

Paste onto a sheet along straight lines and rule in the guidelines that you measured above (a baseline, waistline, ascender and descender heights). You might need to rule the lines individually for the letters, if it’s hard to stick the letters down exactly in place.

Make a note of the x height, ascender and descender heights somewhere on the ductus.

Make notes against the letters that have different ascender/descender heights (such as F, Long S, D and T) on the ductus..1,2

Are there any other special cases where a letter unexpectedly crosses a waistline or baseline? (For example, sometimes the H has a long last stroke, extending past the baseline) 2

After pasting the photocopies of the letters onto a sheet of paper, I thought the reproductions were a bit fuzzy, so I went over each letter with a black pen. I looked at the construction of the letter and made the various strokes clearer.

I'll have to check back against the original letters as I progress further to make sure that I haven't introduced any errors, but they are a lot clearer than they were.

For the question "Make notes against the letters that have different ascender/descender heights (such as F, Long S, D and T) on the ductus..1,2" - ::-

well, back in Script Analysis - Float, Ascender and Descender Heights (Backhouse) and Script Analysis - Float, Ascender and Descender Heights I looked at each of the pages and made notes like

"H : The bottom most corner is at 1.5 mm below the baseline. The hairline touches the descender line.
J : The bottom most corner is at 1.5 mm below the baseline. The hairline touches the descender line.
L : just touches ascender line.
P : just touches descender line.
Q : just touches descender line.
Both P and Q finish at equal points, rather than varying depths - which is why the descender line is different from the ascender line in two cases."


Of course, these measurements varied depending on which page I looked at.

I've gone with the measurements I got from the page from Backhouse/Historical Source Book as I'm going with the variant of the script on this page.

For each letter that has an ascender or a descender, I've marked the relevant ascender and descender lines on the ductus, and made notes on where the ascending or descending line lies in relation to these lines. The ascender and descender lines aren't correctly measured. I had built up the letters by going over them with a pen, which made them a little bigger than they should be - so I just ruled approximately and wrote in the measurements.

The measurements are also in millimetres, rather than in pen width proportions. I'll translate them all to pen width proportions later on. I don't want to record "2/7 pen width below the ascender line" and then be trying to approximate that, or constantly translating it back to millimetres, until I have a clear idea of the proportions of the letters.

I've got a bit ahead of myself, and marked in the letter widths (which I'll look at more closely later) and also at least some of the punctuation.

I'm completely blind, and STILL haven't been able to spot a single W anywhere on any of my 4 pages. There must be several, but like I said, I'm blind. So I took the W from the ductus from the Historical Source Book of Scribes which also does a script analysis of the Bedford Psalter.

I also took the K from the same place - since the letter K didn't exist at the time.

For the question "
Are there any other special cases where a letter unexpectedly crosses a waistline or baseline? (For example, sometimes the H has a long last stroke, extending past the baseline) 2"
the answer is
  • H, which has a righthand stroke that finishes below the baseline, instead of on the baseline like a 'normal' H (whatever 'normal' may be), and
  • V, which has a lefthand stroke that extends up beyond the waistline (it's rather nice)

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