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On the page http://vremya4e.com/interes/16025-temy-sochineniy-dlya-gimnazistov-v-carskoy-rossii.-eto-vam-ne-ege.html there is an image of a handwritten essay from 1917 whose title begins with Развитие, but the written form of з looks quite different from its standard cursive form today. It looks like the cursive form of s in English. (This letter appears several times in the essay itself, e.g., in оказалось and, in the footnote, назад). The Wikipedia page for the Cyrillic letter S/s (dze) says this letter was eliminated from Russian in the 1700s, but if so why would this letter be appearing here? Maybe it is just an archaic written form of з, and if so when did it disappear?

I would also be interested to know if this unusual way of writing з was used by other people back then too, if someone has access to scans of century-old written documents.

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  • You did see that in other words in the same composition the writer had used the "normal" way of writing the letter "з", like on the third line in the word "жизнь"... – Victor Bazarov Oct 17 '15 at 20:35
  • Curious to note that the letter "д" is also written in two different styles: with the "tail" up (first occurrence in the word "ведёт" on the 5th line), and the "normal" way, with the "tail" down, like on the second line in the word "освободительная". So it could be just a quirk of the writer. – Victor Bazarov Oct 17 '15 at 20:39
  • @VictorBazarov, I didn't think the tail-up way of writing д was unusual since it resembles the italic printed д, which I am used to. – KCd Oct 21 '15 at 2:24
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According to a book, published in 1915 about Russian calligraphy - "Курс каллиграфии и конторской скорописи в шести отделах", page 51, drawing 44, it was possible to write the letters "З" and "В" both ways: smaller and bigger ("з" is 5th and 9th, "в" is 3rd and 8th on the image).

Page 44

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  • Not really an answer to the question, is it? If you look carefully at the image referred to in the question, you would see letter "з" written without the loop below the line. At the same time the "s"-looking one does appear in other words where we'd expect a "з"... – Victor Bazarov Oct 17 '15 at 17:55
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    @VictorBazarov It is an answer. Russian alphabet of 1915-1917 didn't contain any "s-looking" letters (cursive or print writing). You can read any literature of 1910s with mentioned words written with the "з". All we can see on that handwriting of 1917 is just a personal way of handwriting. For example, I use different forms of the letter "т", even within the same word (say, "т ут"), but it doesn't mean existence of two different letters in the modern alphabet. – Roman Oct 17 '15 at 18:26
  • That would be a different way of explaining it, wouldn't it, now? – Victor Bazarov Oct 17 '15 at 20:12

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