Today I visited D&AD’s New Blood exhibit and got chatting to Craig Palmer who had created a ‘zine’ all about the humble ampersand. It was a little lesson in the history of type with Craig telling me that the word is a conjunction (or ‘mondegreen‘ to give it its technical name) of four words. These were ‘and per se and’, a mixture of Latin (‘per se’ meaning ‘by itself’) and English (‘and’). The phrase came from the end of verbal recitations of the alphabet when the symbol for ‘and’ was often added as the notional 27th letter i.e. ‘X, Y, Z and, per se, AND’. (More on Wikipedia.)
This discussion reminded me of the lonely ampersand pictured above, ‘by itself’, that I discovered when filming a piece for Canadian TV a couple of months ago. It really is a lonely ampersand but the plan is to visit it often when I launch the next ghostsigns tour (on bicycles!) later this year. I won’t say where it is yet but will give the clue that it is in South Hackney/Islington…
Here it is in context.
Thanks Craig for the history lesson, and Daniele for the photos.