And Now the Ampersand

“Even in its more basic modern form, the ampersand is far more than abbreviation. It also signifies permanence, not least to a professional partnership; Dean & Deluca are clearly in it for the long haul, as are Ben & Jerry’s, Marks & Spencer and the magazines House & Garden and Town & Country. But Simon and Garfunkel? No wonder they kept splitting up.“

Just My Type, by Simon Garfield

I love substituting the ampersand’s florid strokes for the pedestrian “and” when a design calls for added panache. Dempsey & Carroll wouldn’t be the same without it, so this quirky character holds a special place in our hearts.

The Dempsey & Carroll ampersand as it appears on the book “Happy Thoughts!” published over a hundred years ago. The image below is our ampersand in its current form.

The ampersand is originally attributed to Marcus Tiro from 63 B.C. who needed a shorthand abbreviation of the Latin ‘et,’ which means “and.” In many of its graphic iterations you can still discern these letters interlaced. The term “ampersand” was  actually coined many years after the character was added to the English alphabet, and comes from combining the words “and per se and.”

As we approach our 135th anniversary within the coming year, we can only aspire to the ampersand’s longevity. 

1. Gold Ring, $96 / Solid Maple Butcher Block, $120 / Cast Iron Bookend, $200 / night at The Ampersand Hotel in London, GBP 182.75

Mollie Little

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