The ampersand comes to us from the Roman ligature (combitation of two letters to create a new symbol) for the latin word, “et,” meaning and. This new character is often used as a replacement for the word ‘and.’ But the word itself comes from, “and per se and,” meaning "and by itself means and." In the 1800’s the ampersand was commonly printed at the end of the alphabet, as the 27th character. Therefore, when reciting the alphabet, after x, y, and z, children would say, “and per se and.” This eventually became slurred through continual mispronunciation, and is why we now have one word, Ampersand.
The walls of pompeii show the ampersand in ancient graffiti.
The Ampersand is not... a treble clef.
The Ampersand is one of the most versital characters, in both ancient and modern typography.
The symbol "&" predates the pronunciation of the word by over 1,500 years, and is older than many of the letters of our current alphabet!
In 63 B.C. we find the first symbol for the word et, written by Marcus Tulles Tiro. However, this symbol looked more like a Gamma, or backwards 7, and was not a ligature of the letters e and t, and is therefore not the first ampersand, although it is debated.
Finding quotes was difficult for this word, but I have some notable findings you might think are cool.
"&" by E.E. Cummings was a collections of poems, privately printed to avoid censorship, and titled 'and' represented by the Ampersand.
E.E. Cummings was a big fan of Ampersands and frequently used them in his poetry. When you see how visual his poems are, you will see how the ampersand adds a stylistic value. Here is an example.
Love Is A Place
"Love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
all worlds "
For the artwork in this post I tried out some new tools! I have been dying to try out a water brush, and I also bought a new watercolor set!
A water brush is a really interesting lettering and art tool. It is a paint brush with an attached water reservoir. This is great because you don't need to big cup of water. It's great on the go, and really easy to clean, if you have some paper towels handy! I was impressed with the consistency of the tip of the brush. I don't know if I have ever used a 1005 nylon bristle brush, but most synthetics are a bit disappointing. But this little guy did great! It's nice to have real bristles for texture as opposed to a brush pen like the Tombow. I used the Koi Water Brush by Sakura brand in the smallest size. I also like that water brushes give you the flexibility of color that you cannot get with brush pens. If you can mix colors well, the possibilities are endless and totally customizable. It was really easy to use, and a fun, inexpensive tool to add to any arsenal.
I needed a new set of watercolors recently. I was using watercolor from a tube, but those colors had become old and dried up and I desperately needed some new pigments. The set I ended up getting was a Japanese pan set. It is the Gansai Tambi set of 12 colors by Kuretake. I am really pleased with these pigments. They have beautiful transparency when used with the right amount of water, but can also build to pretty opaque, vibrant colors. I haven't used them very much, but they worked very well with the water brush. The paint was creamy and did not require much water to make it usable. I am really excited to use these pretties in future jobs and posts!
Do you have a favorite lettering tool? I would love to hear what it is! Let me know in a comment!
Is there a word you would like explored in a post? Let me know in a comment below.
If you liked this post you can check out other well written words HERE.