An Ode to Ampersand

This post was inspired by a very interesting book titled, "Just My Type" by Simon Garfield, which reviews the history of typeface design.  The author, obviously a great scholar, saw fit to dedicate an entire chapter to the lovely Ampersand "&".  If I may share some of his thoughts for those who are not interested in reading the book, otherwise please close your eyes now cool.

The first revelation is that, although "&" now appears as a single character, the symbol is actually an amalgamation of two letters: "e" and "t" for the Latin "et" meaning "and".  Here is yet another case where the student of horology has an advantage over the hoi polloi in having knowledge of vintage dials:

An Ode to Ampersand

An Ode to Ampersand

The earliest use of the ampersand as a form of shorthand dates to Roman times.  Mastery of this difficult symbol was considered a sign of the scribes skill with pen and ink later on.  The flourish displayed by individuals in their adaptation of the ampersand could well have been the object of gossip, both envious and disapproving.

The ampersand eventually found its way out of the confines of business correspondence into regular useage and, in fact,  has adapted well to all Latin languages.  As with case designs, I submit that vintage Vacheron & Constantin used the ampersand to communicate their stylish elegance.

An Ode to Ampersand

An Ode to Ampersand

An Ode to Ampersand

An Ode to Ampersand

Those truly addicted to the ampersand may find relief with a donation of $20 to the Society of Typographic Aficionados for their project "Coming Together" released in 2010 in aid of Doctors Without Borders, which consists of an astonishing 483 different ampersand designs!

An Ode to Ampersand

An entertaining read. Thank you, Dean!
06/05/2013 - 21:36
Yet another interesting write-up by the die-hard ampersand advocate
Re: An Ode to Ampersand
06/05/2013 - 21:51
Interesting! Thank you.
Even before you published this post, Dean...
06/05/2013 - 22:26
...you had already elevated my appreciation for the ampersand.  That symbol is now forever associated with Vacheron & Constantin in my mind. I very much enjoyed reading this brief history of the ampersand.  I had not idea that t dated back to ancient Roman times.  This is good fodder for conversation at the next cocktail party.  enlightened One of my collecting goals is to get at least one V & C in my watch box.  Thanks for this entertaining and educational post. Robert
Thanks Dean, for the article.
06/05/2013 - 22:31
The ampersand on the third watch from the top is stunning.   Cheers and hope you and you wife will enjoy your trip to the land of the "holy timepieces"   Kent  
Very interesting & fun post Dean!
06/06/2013 - 09:30
I thoroughly enjoyed this tidbit about our beloved &  heartyes
learn something new each day! Thank you sir :-)
06/06/2013 - 11:02
6
Dean, you are a sick man, but in such a devoted
06/06/2013 - 22:30
and passionate way. Your noble disease is infectious and glorious in the articles you share with your fellow WIS members. I found this a fascinating read. Bless you, Tim
Thanks all. I'm thinking of a new name...
06/07/2013 - 05:16
The Professor enlightened Johnny Depp need fear no competition from me but these Professor-type pics were from Nerd Nite:
the Indiana Jones of watches :-)
06/07/2013 - 11:09
e
Very interesting, Dean...
06/07/2013 - 05:36
It does support some archeological evidence I read about, that the Romans actually reached the shores of North America (specifically Canada), long before the Vikings. And indeed they left some of their language here. The origin of the Ampersand clearly spells it out. As you say it is a combination of the letters "e" and "t", originally pronounced "et", as in "at". But over time and especially after 1500 with the influx of French explorers the "T" became silent. And in the early 19th century, just after the War of 1812, and no due to some unwanted American influence (probably the Fenians) the "t" was replaced by an"h". And so we arrive at the quintessential Canadian word "eh?" as in "You're a real hoser, eh" I'm so glad I studied Latin in high school. You never know where it might turn up!
Thanks professor....
06/07/2013 - 15:57
A very interesting read
Thanks Prof Dean
06/07/2013 - 18:21
As usual, I get to learn new stuff from your posts! Robin
Dean goes & in & with Nerd Nite...
06/08/2013 - 15:36
I've taken everything on board including Joseph's suggestions about the Romanssmiley... Having digested all the bits and pieces I've decided to 'jump-ship' and simply relax listening to The Eagles version of "cheekyToo many &'s"... Well done, Dean! Tony
Just between you & me Tony...
06/08/2013 - 20:56
I think Joseph was enjoying some very fine brandy at the time of his inspirational post laugh.  If you've never been exposed to a Canadian hoser, follow the link, eh....  

How to get a mouse in a beer bottle.

No brandy required, Dean,
06/09/2013 - 06:34
Your exposition was inspiration enough! Thanks for the link of bob and Doug macKenzie. Thant brings back a lot of memories of Second City. JB
A big thank you to you both...
06/09/2013 - 15:34
.....for some good spirited fun.laugh... I'm staying safe, listening to Eydie Gorme singing "You need &'s"......accompanied by a most pleasant glass of Remy! Best regards Tony