I do love a good ampersand.
For the uninitiated, an ampersand is the curious squiggle that gets used to shorten ‘and’. It’s name derives from the phrase ‘and per se and’ – so it basically means ‘and’. It’s what we call a ligature – two letters joined together to make a logogram.
Meaning aside, the ampersand can be one of the most elegant symbols in any font alphabet and is a real indicator, I think, of how well the font has been drawn and cut. In the old days, fonts would actually be drawn physically with a pencil and ink and literally cut out of wood or metal. Of course that’s not the way these days but the terminology is still used. If this sort of thing interests you, it’s well worth seeking out Simon Garfield’s excellent history of type ‘Just My Type’ – it tales the reader on a wonderfully respectful and enlightening journey of type history and how it makes a real difference to our lives still.
Just this morning, I stumbled across this set of rather cool looking ampersands that would’t look amiss framed up in a gallery. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.