Lower-case t

I have been setting some type in Futura this week, and I noticed, to my surprise, that the lower-case t was much “stumpier” than I thought it should be — about three quarters of the height letter like l, h and f:

Futura Lower Case

Surely this was unusual, and unique to Futura, I thought: when I print a lower-case t with a pen or pencil it’s always the same, full, height as other lower case letters.

But, looking at other typefaces, it turns out that the lower-case t is, quite often, the shortest of the tall letters; indeed, in Typologia, Goudy writes (emphasis mine) “lower-case t may be classed with the first or short letters.”

When people ask me why I’m interested in letterpress printing and working with metal type, I often talk about the “physicality” of it all; this is one example: I’ve been reading for more than 40 years, and working as a designer, of one form or another, for more than 20. But until I had a lower-case t in my hands, I really didn’t know all that much about it.