Anyone whose has had a glance at an 18th century newspaper, poster, or even book (or just about anything in Historic Williamsburg) may have noticed something a bit off. One of the most common letters in the alphabet is replaced by a different one. That is, just about every s is gone and replaced with an f. Now why would they go and do that?
The truth is those fs aren't actually fs at all! They are what was known as Long Ss. It's similar to what an italicized form of an s looks like. Orginally the grammatical rule deemed that the long s would be the s used in the middle of a word while the "normal" one would be used at the end, so mistress would come out like miftrefs. Of course since this was a silly rule to begin with, it was only followed loosely. Of course even though those fs are really a stretched out s, I'd be curious if you could truly explain the aesthetic difference to me, because the font definitely looks the same!