Monday, November 25, 2013

Lettering: 100 Ampersands, Part 1

The Printer and Bookmaker
July 1898
Some Queer Ampersands.

What is the legitimate form of the ampersand? Ringwalt’s American Encyclopaedia of Printing says that it was not adopted in its present form until about 1750. It was originally the Latin et surmounted by a ligature, and the type founders give it to us in Roman in this form (&), and in old-style italic in this form {&). There is a wide difference between the two, and there exists a still wider difference in various display types, while the sign painter takes all sorts of liberties with the figure. The word is a contraction of “and per se and,” signifying “and by itself and.” It is occasionally spelled ampersand, and is found in old books in the form ampusand, amperse-and, ampassyand, amperzed, etc. Having for many years received recognition in primers as a tailend to the alphabet, and being apparently of fixed use in the language, it becomes interesting to discover what forms it becomes interesting to discover what forms it has taken on in arriving at its present shape, if indeed it have any present legitimate shape.

From the Railroad Car Journal we unexpectedly find light on the subject, through a contribution from Warner Bailey, whose connection with the Boston and Maine Railroad has caused him to travel over most of the territory between the States of Maine on the East, Kentucky on the South, and Illinois on the West. During these trips Mr. Bailey made it a pastime to copy all the forms of ampersands he saw painted on railway cars. He discovered no less than one hundred and forty different styles, of which there are reproduced in the accompanying illustration one hundred of the most peculiar. They are certainly worth studying as curiosities, and it is difficult to judge by what mental process some of the more outrageous forms were arrived at by the paint-brush artists.

Related Posts

100 Ampersands, Part 2
100 Ampersand, Part 3
100 Ampersands, Part 4
Wood Type Ampersands

(Next post on Thursday: Thanksgiving 1905)

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