and per se and

First I’d like to apologize for not giving you some eye candy not once, but twice in a row! To make up for it I’ll start off by giving you two days worth. The first is from Raphael Vicenzi. I found these on Design Work Life (a great one to follow) and then found his website from there. These are some incredible illustrated portraits. The color and text combos are absolutely brilliant.

The second is from Etsy in the treasuries section. Every time I go to Etsy I find something amazing, this is due in part to the fact that Etsy is very possibly one of the greatest collections of amazing objects ever created, and in part to the fact that there are these cool things called treasuries where people curate hand picked galleries of cool things that go together. Here’s a couple of my favorites from today.

I call that one old time ocean, but only because I couldn’t find the title the curator gave it.

This is “Amber’s Packing Steel Again” love it.

Now, back to today’s task. I want to talk about the &. The ampersand is literally my favorite symbol. There’s something about the perfect shortness of it and the variety of ways it can be written yet still mean the same thing.

I did a little bit of research (i.e. wikipedia) and learned some very interesting facts:

1. The name “ampersand” or “epershand” as the Scottish call it, is really a slurring together of the phrase “and (or et) per se and” Here’s what wiki says: “The word ampersand is a conflation of the phrase “and per se and”, meaning “and [the symbol which] by itself [is] and”.[1] The Scots and Scottish English name for & is epershand, derived from “et per se and”, with the same meaning.”

2. The & used to be part of the recited alphabet. A.k.a. when kids would get to x,y,z in grade school they’d also say “and per se and” to include & at the very end. Apparently the per se was used to clarify that you were talking about the symbol by itself. Kids (and people in general) being kids would slur it all together and the symbol became known as the ampersand.

3. The actual ligature (or the symbol made from the letters) has also gone through some changes. The roman & that we all know and love used to look like this:

The original was a combo of the letters e and t, which is the Latin word for and. I think the second and third are the most convincing, but 4th and 5th aren’t so bad either.

4. There are now tons of versions of the &. For every typeface there’s an ampersand. There’s also the italic ampersand ( look for it in typefaces like French Script) which looks like this:

as well as the hand written ones (most of which are pretty close to the original et ligature). Here are a couple of examples:

Why do I love this symbol so much? Because it’s such a simple fix for saving time, but such a beautiful one. There are very few symbols that are this elegant and this commonplace. The curves are so chic and the perfect balance is mesmerizing. I really cannot think of a better symbol which could convey such a simple and everyday idea as and with such style. I once thought that if I ever started a design company I’d call it ampersand, as it turns out I’m not the only one that loves this symbol to its core because the idea has been taken many times over, but a good idea anyway right?

In closing, here are a few of my favorite & images.

Just try to find an ampersand I don’t like. That’s all for now, see you again soon 🙂