A post from Shady Characters

Miscellany № 11

Conrad Altmann, proprietor of Altmannhaus Creative, has been reinterpreting the visual forms of some familiar shady characters. My interest was piqued by his recently-posted @-symbol (shown below); where the usual typographic approach is to start with the “single storey” ‘a’ commonly found in italic typefaces, Conrad has instead used the “double storey” ‘a’ more usually associated with roman script. I like it!

Conrad Altmann's double-storey @-symbol
Conrad Altmann’s double-storey @-symbol. (Image courtesy of Conrad Altmann at Altmann Creative.)

Conrad has also produced a swirling, knot-like octothorpe that echoes the heraldic St. John’s Arms (⌘), and an elegant, minimal pilcrow. More characters are on the way at Conrad’s Glyphaday blog, and I’ll be watching it with interest.


If the opinion of the US justice system has anything to do with it, the interrobang may have received its most convincing stamp of approval so far. A couple of weeks ago, Eugene Volokh of the law blog The Volokh Conspiracy broke the unusual news that an interrobang had been sighted in a document issued by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The first paragraph on page eight of the court’s opinion on Robert F. Booth Trust v. Crowley apparently contains an interrobang, but as luck would have it the court’s website is currently down for maintenance. I remain on tenterhooks., and reader porges has dug up a copy of the offending document. Here, then, for your consideration, is the 7th Circuit court’s interrobang in context:

Plaintiffs say that investors still can gain from this suit, because removing interlocking directors from the board will eliminate any chance that the United States will file a §8 suit to remove them. We don’t get it. In order to avoid a risk of antitrust litigation, the company should be put through the litigation wringer (this suit) with certainty‽

Well, it’s a start. Thanks to porges for his detective work!


And lastly, because I enjoyed researching and writing it so much, I can’t resist a little self-promotion by linking to my article on the oldest working Monotype caster in Scotland.

4 comments on “Miscellany № 11

  1. Comment posted by HP on

    I can’t help but notice that the double-storey a in Conrad’s @ resembles a 2. And as any QWERTY typist knows, an @ is just a capital 2.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Very true! Although not universally, of course — my UK keyboard has a double prime (") in that position instead. I’m reminded of the octothorpe, or ‘pound sign’, which occupies the same position on US keyboards as does the symbol for pounds sterling on UK keyboards.

      Thanks for the comment!

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Excellent! Thanks for digging that up. I’ve amended the text.

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