Now, almost everything we need is to be found beneath an LED or plasma screen. The tension of graphite or nib, or the fragile pleasure to be derived from running a forefinger across the opening page of a well-printed book, is fast becoming heritage. But typefaces — both their preponderance and ingenuity — have not suffered a similar decline in fortunes. Quite the opposite…
This is the best thing about the ampersand — its energy, its refusal to sit still. It is almost impossible to look at one and not think about its shape, or to draw one and not think about liberation.
[The Caslon ampersand] is fiendishly difficult to draw, and when done badly may resemble aimless scribble. But when done well, it can be a work of wild freehand art that few regular characters are allowed to be. It can bestow aristocratic virtue to a font, and it can cause the writer about fonts a considerable struggle to contain the purple prose.
Done well, an & is not so much a character as a creature, an animal from the deep.