What rift is this, oh lovers?
What squabble tore one from the other?
What bold whistle in the dark
Changed your trust to a question mark?
Fear not, oh lovers, close at hand,
The intervening ampersand,
Knows your hearts aspire to mend
So whispers words you comprehend.
Your dissonance dissolves, for now
You see the split not as a row,
Instead a paradox that unites —
For threat of loss, re-excites.
“Paradox” ©2018 Nancy Upper
Ampersand designed by Eli Castellanos in 2010 for Font Aid IV: Coming Together, a collaborative font created by the Society of Typographic Afficionados (SOTA) to benefit victims of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
In 1911, French artist Georges Braque stenciled an ampersand onto his cubist painting The Portuguese.
In 1936, engraver and woodcut artist Allen Lewis (1873-1957) envisioned, designed, engraved, and printed, an Ampersandman shaped like our favorite character. Lewis’s sandman found his way into the “serious and not too serious” pages of the New York Typophiles 1936 Christmas keepsake titled, Diggings from many ampersandhogs, Paul A. Bennett, editor.
1,060 companies worldwide have the word Ampersand (but not &) in the company name. The combined net revenue these companies exceeds $301 million. Net revenue of the worldwide businesses with “&” in the company name exceeds trillions of dollars.
In 2010, University of North Texas design students Bryan Barnes and Jason Perez grew an ampersand from Liriope grass planted in soil and mulch. They called their creation Living Typography.
In 2011, Cowan’s Auctions Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, sold — for $11,162.50 — a bejeweled, porcelain, ampersand-shaped teapot designed by Los Angeles-based ceramic artist Adrian Saxe.
Tech & Art
At MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Ampersand is quarterly concert series of art, music, and film.
On November 28, 2017, Football Malaysia LLP (FMLLP) signed an agreement with the sponsorship agency Ampersand Sports, giving the agency exclusive rights to market sponsorships of the Super League, Premier League, Malaysia Cup, and Football Association (FA) Cup competitions.
Want a font of entirely ampersands? Saintjean, a 2017 release by the French type foundry Velvetyne, gives you 288 ampersands by designers from around the world. Saintjean continues German typographer Jan Tschichold’s 1953 stride through the centuries, Formenwandlungen der Et-Zeichen [Shape changes of the Et-sign]. Coming Together, the 2010 ampersand bouquet created for Font Aid IV by the Society of Typographic Aficionados, gives you 484 ampersands by worldwide designers. Adobe’s 1982 font Poetica, by Robert Slimbach, supplies with its letters, 62 ampersands inspired by 16th-century writing masters.
Some early American gravestone carvers incised ampersands lying on their backs looking skyward, as though promising the deceased connection with the empyrean. A few of these recumbent ampersands inspired modern typefaces. An example is HWT Van Lanen, designed in 2009 by Matthew Carter for Wisconsin’s Hamilton Wood Type Museum.
From September 2002 to March 2008, Vertigo (an imprint of DC Comics) published the dystopian science fiction comic book series, Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. The only male mammals to survive the plague that wiped out all others with a Y chromosome are hero Yorick Brown and his Capuchin monkey named Ampersand.