A 1648 "smiley face"

Christopher Philippo toff at MAC.COM
Wed Apr 16 04:20:29 UTC 2014

On Apr 15, 2014, at 11:30 PM, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
> It seems the "P" is for "per". It seems the other is "lb" with a
> horizontal bar superimposed, for "pound". These are shown on p. 3002 of
> my copy of the old big Merriam-Webster dictionary (MW2).

I think per-haps you’re right.

“The 1892 edition of the Practical Printing of John Southward showed a series of non-alphabetic characters in its example of an ‘improved’ upper case which had not been in a normal case earlier in the century. […] types for the calligraphic ‘per’ and for lb (the pound weight). These were all needed for use in commercial jobs like the printing of catalogues of goods for sale. […] The lb character with its cross stroke became obsolete, but it is worth noting that it was used throughout the 29 volumes of the 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, set on the Monotype machine. […] The ‘per’ symbol (which was admittedly a rather elaborate design) failed to get onto the normal typewriter keyboard and has faded from memory."

Per sign U+214C and pound avoirdupois sign U+2114

Many thanks!  Everyone else I’d asked was stumped.

Chris Philippo

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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