R rotunda

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The r rotunda (), "rounded r," is an old letter variant found in full script-like typefaces, especially blackletters. Between the Middle Ages and today, many ways of writing alphabetical characters were lost. Besides a variety of ligatures, conjoined letters, scribal abbreviations, swash characters, and the "long s" with its own ligatures, one was the "r rotunda". Like many of the practices listed, this variant form of that letter was originally devised either to save space while writing on expensive parchment or for aesthetic reasons. It became popular among typesetters, providing a visual diversity of form and beauty, particularly in blackletter typefaces.

This "r"-shape was used at first only after the letter "o". It progressed to follow any letter that ended in a curved stroke. Hence, in blackletter, it may follow the letters "b", "o", "p", or "d", which provides the missing "half" of the "r". Often it was used after "d", for in many of those old typefaces the vertical stroke of that letter was curled to the left (as it still is in the Icelandic letter "ð"). It never began a word. This symbol came in several different shapes, all of which were of x-height.

Original form

The shape of the letter used in blackletter scripts Textualis as well as Rotunda is reminiscent of “half an r”, namely, the right side of the Roman capital “R”; it...
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