A while back, I asked if anyone knew when the letter "J" came in to common usage. The other day while looking through some of my old cross stitch charts, I came upon The Katy Bemis Sampler. It is a reproduction sampler dated 1787. (Note the $3.00 price tag.)
There inside the leaflet was an explanation.
"Many samplers, dated well into the nineteenth century, seem to be missing the letter "J". Actually, the "J" is a relatively young letter, coming into common usage sometime after 1820. Young needleworkers, such at Katy Bemis, were stitching the alphabet as they knew and used it . . . without considering the "J" as an individual letter.
The letter "J" has its beginning in the letter "I", beginning as an alternate form of the lower case "i". Because the letter was so tiny and inconspicuous, especially in the flowing cursive writing, people began adding a slightly hooked tail to a lower case "i" whenever it was used to begin a word. (In English, words rarely end in an "i" and because some time earlier, the "new" letter "y" had replaced the "i" as an ending sound.) This is how the letter developed its form or shape.
The sound, or value of the letter "j" came about to distinguish between the vowel sound of "i" as we know it today and a consonant sound of a soft "g" (like George) which was also noted by the letter "i" . . . that is until about 1600. Some time in the 17th century, people began to use an "i" to represent only vowel sounds and the "j" to represent the consonant soft "g" sound whenever it appeared in a word. However, they still regarded it as ONE letter . . . that of on "i". The "j" was simply a form of the letter "i". For that reason dictionaries had no "J" section. Words like "juxtaposition" are found in a 19th century dictionary in the "I" section. And in that same dictionary, "juxtaposition" is quite naturally followed by "ivy"."
Clear as mud, right?
Here is one of my antique samplers dated 1827 that contains the letter "J" . . .
. . . and a redwork sampler dated 1892 that does not. (I purchased this sampler because my initials are LF.)
We're back to wintertime here in Ohio. Low 30s and a few flakes coming down. Only 8 more days until spring!!!
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Pug hugs :)