A typography series dedicated to fabulous quirky letters inspired by Keith Houston’s Shady Characters. Each month a new design celebrating a different character will appear here, on Instagram and in the studio as a calendar.
The ampersand is the logogram &, representing the conjunction and. It can be traced back to the 1st century A.D. and the Old Roman cursive, in which the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature. In the later and more flowing New Roman Cursive, ligatures of all kinds were extremely common. During later development of Latin script, the use of ligatures diminished. The et-ligature, however, continued to be used and gradually became more stylized and less revealing of its origin. The modern italic type ampersand is an et ligature that goes back to the scripts developed during the Renaissance.
The origin of the octothorpe is veiled in mystery. It is thought to boast noble Latin roots, although its use so promiscuous the meaning can change entirely upon the context, leaving its original purpose to be speculative. It was allegedly first used as the symbol we recognise today (#) in late, 14th century England as a shorthand successor to the traditional symbol for pounds (lbs). Also, it can be used as the number sign, to signify checkmate in chess, a stand-in for the musical sharp symbol and in programming languages, or indicates that the rest of the line is a comment only. Proofreaders prefer it to denote the insertion of a space: placed in the margin. It is also known as the crunch, hex, flash, grid, tic-tac-toe and most famously the hash-tag.