December 23

The third book produced by The Typophiles, published on this day in 1936, represented a happy occasion for all typophiles, not just the capitalized variety which has contributed so much to the literature of typography in our time. In his introduction to Diggings from Many Ampersandhogs, Paul A. Bennett, guiding star of the organization, “Why a book on ampersands?” and proceeded to answer his question forthwith. Discussing the paucity of information concerning the ampersand, he stated: “Most of the contributions which follow owe their existence in varying degrees to impatience and exasperation, because little was available in English on the subject. Plus anger; be it confessed, a genial determination to amend that unfortunate omission.”

And amend it the contributors did, by writing essays both serious and whimsical, in many cases printing the signatures themselves. The book contains thirty-five signatures and makes up the most solid of the shelf-full of Typophile books, which at this date number forty-eight.

The contributors also represented in themselves a typographic Who’s Who. Bruce Rogers sent his poem, which begins, “& now comes Ambling Ampers& as tailpiece gr&.,” and printed it on wrapping paper enclosed in a sandpaper frame which he called ampersand paper.

Fred Goudy really took his assignment to heart by thoroughly researching the subject and going so far as to design sixty ampersands which his son engraved into matrices and cast into type. The 56-page signature was printed by his friend Howard Coggeshall of Utica, New York.

Another offering, that of Clarence Hornung, included a redrawing of 130 historic ampersands representative of the various countries. Edna and Arthur Rushmore of the Golden Hind Press retrieved an ampersand poem from an 1869 issue of Punch, the first stanza of which reads: “Of all the types in a printer’s hand / Commend me to the amperzand, / For he’s the gentleman (seems to me) / Of the typographical companie. / O my nice little amperzand! / My graceful, swanlike amperzand! / Nothing that Cadmus ever planned / Equals my elegant amperzand!”

The scholarly Professor Lehman-Haupt of Columbia University chose to keep his tongue in his cheek when he described the origin of the ampersand: “The Ampersand has its name from the little river Amper, which joins the Rhine not far from Mainz, where Johann Gutenberg spent his childhood years. Of warm summer afternoons little Hans would take off his shoes and play in the clean white sand of the riverbed. It was here that the clearly-marked outline in the moist sand of his footprints first suggested to him the idea of the sand casting mould, which, as we all have learnt to know, is the true clue to the invention of printing. From the incident of its discovery and on through the early experimental years the entire process of type production was called ‘Ampersanding.’ ”

Edward Alonzo Miller contributed a geo-graphical essay on the Adirondack Moun-tains, which contain an Ampersand Moun-tain, Lake, and Stream, the location of a Philosopher’s Camp attended in the past by such figures as Lowell, Emerson, and Agassiz.

Altogether, the Typophiles never put together a more enjoyable potpourri of typographical whimsy.

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