Dutch IJ / ij
As some of you know, I’m one of the self-employed advocates of the Dutch national treasure IJ/ij and will make sure that everyone is familiar and inspired by the looks of it.
On this page I am collecting samples of handwritten IJ's, signs, posters, ads, primer books, architectural lettering, U-shaped IJ’s and much more.

Officially the IJ is a digraph: the combination of the ‘i’ and ‘j’ creates a vowel with diphthong sound, similarly like the word ‘eye’ in English. However, it is often considered as a single letter and is grammatically and spelling-wise treated as one. The IJ is used in both the Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium).
History wise: The IJ probably developed out the letter combination double ‘ii’ during the Middle Ages. Back then the letter ‘i’ was written without a dot, which in double formation (‘ii’) was easily confused with the ‘u’ shape. The story goes, that to distinguish the double ‘ii’ from ‘u’ the second ‘i’ was elongated, and the letter ‘ij’ was born. Its dots followed later.

Learning to read and write the ij
The Dutch alphabet contains 26 letters. The official 25th letter is ‘y’ (x y z), however Dutch primary schools instead teach this letter as ‘ij’ (x ij z) in its connecting shape for both uppercase and lowercase. It’s when the magic happens; many Dutch consider the IJ to be a singular letter.
By the way - the letter ‘y’ is Dutch is usually called ‘Griekse y’ (‘Greek y’), or as in French ‘i-grec’.