Books On Books Collection -The Last Word on the Ampersand

Isn’t it surprising that, given the greater frequency in human discourse of “yeah, but” over “yeah, and”, we can write “yeah, &”, but there is no logogram for “but”? No one can say that the last word has been said, written, printed or had about the ampersand. Someone will always be ready to append an & … but that has not stifled many an attempt. Apparently they have occurred every twenty years or so since 1936.

The Typophiles (based in New York and now a non-profit) organized the first attempt. Typographer Frederic W. Goudy and calligrapher Paul Standard contributed serious pamphlets on the subject to otherwise whimsical entries in this now rare portfolio volume: Diggings from Many Ampersandhogs (1936).

Some twenty years later along comes Jan Tschichold’s A Brief History of the Ampersand (1957), initially in German in 1953), which reproduced and updated Goudy’s set of examples and deepened the scholarship on the subject.

After Tschichold’s “last word”, The Ampersand Club (yes, there is one) invited one of its distinguished members — Rutherford Aris, Professor of Chemical Engineering (and Classics!) at the University of Minnesota — to attempt another “last word” in 1980.

While there are a few publications falling around 1999/2000, nothing approaches the colophonic status of the Typophiles’, Tschichold’s or the Ampersanders’ efforts. It’s not as if ampersand aficionados were running out of &s. Consider Robert Slimbach’s Poetica™️ (1992), his family of type that boasts 62 different ampersands.

Robert Slimbach’s 62 ampersands in the Poetica™️ family

Jumping the gun on 2020, we have both the 2018 reissued edition of Tschichold’s “last word” on the subject and Ray Czapkowski‘s 2019 celebration of the Diggings of Many Ampersandhogs. It is somewhat fitting that the publisher of the reissue of Tschichold is named ~zeug, which is the German suffix appended to a verb to indicate the instrument for carrying out the verb’s activity — e.g., Spielen (to play), Spielzeug (toy). And entirely fitting, too, that ~zeug could not resist the urge to make up a deluxe version by adding Et & Ampersands: A Contemporary Collection to Tschichold’s A Brief History.

By definition, the Velvetyne/~zeug catalogue is not a last word, and its cataloging of newly designed ampersands attests to the ongoing “and-ness” of letter design, which brings us to the first item in this sub-collection within Books On Books …

Hungry Dutch (2020)

Hungry Dutch: A Typographic Adventure (2016)

Russell Maret

Maret’s pattern, matrix and punch for the Hungry Dutch ampersand came into the collection in 2020 as recognition of Books On Books’ contributing sponsorship of the design and manufacture of the typeface.

… & … A Brief History of the Ampersand (2018)

Jan Tsichichold

… & … The Ampersand in Script and Print (1980)

The Ampersand in Script & Print: An Essay in Honour of the Ampersand Club on the Occasion of its Semicentenary (1980)

Rutherford Aris

The endnoting to the pages displaying the numbered ampersands suits the publication of this scholarly “after-dinner” speech, which has one rocking back & forth between typographical puns and paleographical insights.

… & … Ampersand& (2006)

Ampersand& (2006)

Andrew Morrison

Board covers with a Caslon paper wrapper, cased over eleven linen-taped handsewn leaves of Somerset 300gsm, eleven images printed on a Vandercook proofing press. H175 x W180 mm. Acquired from the artist, 5 May 2020.

Printers have affection for the ampersand, not just because of its usefulness in shortening lines and in embellishing spaces, but also, I believe, because of its uniquely human shape; in one stroke it describes us, becomes a human pictogram. Placed together, ampersands appear endlessly various and take on human characteristics of slovenliness, arrogance, timidity and flamboyance. Ben Shahn said that the letters of the alphabet have an “austere dignity”, the ampersand in woodblock form, by contrast, is avuncular and buoyant. The book is a small celebration of the alphabet’s twenty-seventh letter and of design improvisation and characterisation within one simple symbolic form.
It’s hard to identify all the fonts used as many wooden fonts are local variations of standard faces but the book includes Cheltenham, Windsor, Gill, Grotesque and Caslon as well as some ampersands hand cut for this production. The text on the final page is hand set in Albertus.
— Information provided by the artist.

… & … The Well-Travelled Ampersand (2017)

The Well-Travelled Ampersand (2015-17)

Jennifer Farrell

Book: Dustjacket and case over perfect binding of 34 pages, offset, multiple edition. 178 x 178 mm. Portfolio: Sleeve of gray French Kraftone encasing 16 prints on white French Kraftone. 305 x 305 mm. Edition of 50, of which this is #42. Acquired from the artist, 5 May 2020. Photos: Courtesy of the artist.

The book (2017) comes in response to interest in Farrell’s portfolio of sixteen prints of celebrated designers’ ampersands (2015-17). Farrell has constructed each designer’s ampersand with ornaments and flourishes carefully locked into shape with typesetting furniture forms. Each also contains images composed of ornaments, and each conveys the city or country associated with the original designer or typeface. The artist has provided extensive commentary and numerous photos here and here.

London: Johnston Underground (1916) Edward Johnston. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Paris: Frutiger (1976) Adrian Frutiger. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Switzerland: Sonnenzimmer (2015) Nick Butcher & Nadine Nakanishi. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Further Reading (& Viewing)

300&65 Ampersands” (NL: Ampersandampersand, ND). Accessed 19 June 2020.

Aris, Rutherford. The ampersand in script & print : an essay in honour of the Ampersand Club on the occasion of its semicentenary ([NL]: Ampersand Club, 1980)

Banham, Rob. “Material histories: Tschichold & ampersands“, Typography & Graphic Communications, 27 October 2016.

Bennett, Paul A; Charles M Adams; Gerald D McDonald; Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt. Concerning ampersands : a typophilic inquisition (New York: Typophiles, 1936)

Brodribb, Conant. & : the handy ampersand (Oxford : Demi-Griffin Press, 1987)

Cary, Jr., Melbert B. Some new light on the genesis of the ampersand (New York: Press of the Woolly Whale, 1936)

Czapkowski, Ray. “Ands & Ampersands”, American Printing History Association, 28 November 2019. On Goudy’s pamphlet and Diggings of Many Ampersands.

Eckmair, Frank C., and Edward O Smith, My nice little ampersand in American wood type, 1828-1900 (Buffalo, NY: F.C. Eckmair, 1984)

Farrell, Jennifer. The Well-Travelled Ampersand (Chicago: Starshaped Press, 2017)

Finley, Morgan. Another & another & another & : twenty-four explorations of the ampersand ([NL]: [NP], 200-?)

Firefly Press. Miscellaneous ampersands from the typecases of Firefly Press (Cambridge, MA: Firefly Press, 1982)

Goudy, Frederic W. Ands & ampersands, from the first century B.C. to the twentieth A.D. (New York: Typophiles, 1936)

Heller, Robert. “The Art of the Ampersand”, Visual Communication Quarterly, v15 n1-2 (200804): 100-112.

Houston, Keith. Shady characters : ampersands, interrobangs and other typographical curiosities (London: Penguin Books, 2015) See Houston’s postings on the ampersand.

Johnston, Edward. Writing & Illuminating & Lettering, reprint edition (London: Pitman House Ltd, 1977), Plate XII and p. 408.

Koeberlin, Christoph. “Ampersand”, Typefacts, 14 April 2009.

Left Side Right Side Brain Games. “History of the & (Ampersand)”, Chalking Points: A Series on Language. Accessed 20 June 2020.

Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut. The legend of the ampersand (New York: New York University, 1936)

Luse, Karen. An experiment in literary excavation (Portland, ME: Karen Luse, 2005). Cavity created in textblock within which sections of pages are removed to form an ampersand. book attached to painted wooden board.

McLeod, Tara. The ampersand : the character known as an ampersand is an abbreviated form of and (Auckland: Pear Tree Press, 2004)

Miller, Melvin M. The origin and historical development of the ampersand ([NL]: Design Program of the Dept. of Fine Arts at Indiana University, 1965)

Minzoni, Marco. “Ampersand: A Symbol that Refuses to Die, Pixart Printing, 6 December 2019. Accessed 8 June 2020.

Mono Lino Typesetting Co. “The ampersand is an often neglected little fellow : it can link a name to any surface, join 2 enemies & help you through a tight space …” (Toronto: Mono Lino Typesetting Co., [19–])

Morley, Christopher, and Charles McCurdy The apologia of the ampersand (New York: Powgen Press, 1936[?])

Morrison, Andrew, Ampersand& (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Andrew Morrison, 2006)

Schiller, Albert. A curious invention (New York: Advertising Agencies’ Service Company; Typophiles, 1937)

Smith, G. Roland. Ampersands & oddments : notes for a jobbing calligrapher (Tonbridge: Skriber, 2009)

Standard, Paul; Clarence Pearson Hornung; Melvin Loos. The ampersand, sign of continuity (New York: George Grady Press, [195-?])

Stricker, Thomas Perry. & cetera : symbol of oblivion (New York: Lewis A. Alliger, 1936)

Sweet, Pat. Out of the alphabet (Riverside, CA: Bo Press Miniature Books, 2018)

Trenholm, George F. Ampersand (Boston: The Abbey Press, 1936)

Tsichichold, Jan, and Frederick Plaat. [Formenwandlungen der Et-Zeichen.] The Ampersand: its origin and development … Translated … by Frederick Plaat (London: Woudhuysen, 1957)

Tschichold, Jan; Jean-Marie Clarke; Marc H Smith. A brief history of the ampersand ; et & ampersands : une recolte internationale = a contemporary collection (Paris : -zeug & Velvetyne Type Foundry, 2018)

Van Rosendaal, Meg, and Gail Stevens. In quest of ampersands : & (Calgary: Inkworks, 1985)

Velvetyne Type Foundry; -Zeug; Association La Générale. Et & ampersands : une récolte internationale = a contemporary collection : [workshop, Paris, 6-7 mai 2017] (Paris: -Zeug & Velvetyne Type Foundry, 2017)

Web Designer Depot. “The History of the Ampersand and Showcase“, 13 January 2010. Accessed 8 June 2020.

Wroth, Lawrence C. Mystical reflections on the ampersand (Portland, ME: Southworth-Anthoesen Press, 1937)
Alphabooks – Ampersand – & (2015)
That Company Called If

2 thoughts on “Books On Books Collection -The Last Word on the Ampersand

  1. Mary Kritz 2020/06/27 / 16:52

    Very much enjoyed this post: creative and humorous.




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