Notes on Type


Musings on all things type and design.


Libra Pondo

The story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century, with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation “lb,” for the Roman term libra pondo, or “pound weight.” Like many standard abbreviations of that period, “lb” was written with the addition of a horizontal bar, known as a tilde (the example shown here is from Johann Conrad Barchusen’s “Pyrosophia,” from 1698) — the phrase “pound sign” can be traced to the symbol’s ancient origins. For just as “lb” came from libra, so the word “pound” is descended from pondo, making the # a descendent of the Roman term libra pondo in both name and appearance. ~ newyorker.com



Still used in Icelandic language today, the letter Þ is pronounced more or less like "th". Around 14th century when the letter became more widely used, over time it started to look like the letter "Y". Many printers in the 15th century didn't have the letter Þ so they used a "Y" and manuscripts of the time abbreviated "the" as "Yᵉ". Thanks to the Bible we pronounced "ye" with the "y" sound so the correct pronunciation of "Ye Olde Tavern" should be "The Olde Tavern". The silent "e" in Olde is a whole other topic. #typography #language #þorn #thorn#design