#ONLYFORTNUMS: The Fortnum's Ampersand

Discover the little-known story of the important symbol sat between our two famous names

That curvaceous character known as the ampersand sits between the names of our two founders everywhere you look.

It’s there between the names ‘Fortnum’ and ‘Mason’ on the front-of-house signs at our Piccadilly, St. Pancras, Heathrow T5 and Dubai stores, and almost every Fortnum's product too - from biscuits and famous tea, to Fortnum’s Champagne. We’ve even got a specially-designed ampersand stencil for use on our famous picnic hampers.*

The ampersand is so much a part of our name - as the picture below, of another wonderful thing on which the ampersand makes an appearance proves - that’s it’s easy to assume it has always been there. The truth, however, is a little different.

A trawl through the Fortnum’s archives with our in-house historian, Dr. Andrea Tanner, reveals that while there has always been an ampersand in our name, it has not always lived in the same place.

In fact, when we first opened in 1707, we were not originally known as Fortnum & Mason at all, but ‘Fortnum, Mason & Co.’

Pleasure yachts, indeed!

Minds blown and foundations shaken by this revelation, a little further investigation revealed just how long our humble ampersand was absent from its rightful role as the combining force between our F and our M.

Until 1906 - that’s 199 years after the business was started by our eponymous founders - our all-important ‘&’ remained AWOL, stuck out there between 'Mason' and 'Co.'

The change, ironically enough, came about when Fortnum’s ceased to be a legal partnership, and instead became a limited company. In typically atypical Fortnum’s style, the moment our business ceased to be a partnership, our name became one, and from that day forward ‘Fortnum & Mason’ became our official name.
All of which means this year is the 110th anniversary of the relocation of that peculiar little character which has become such an important part of our identity, and which certainly won’t be moving from it’s current - and proper - home anytime soon.

Even so, there does remain one place where the ampersand remains strangely absent. And ironically enough, it's where you find yourself right now - check the address bar on your browser for the proof.
A rare example, from 1936, of Fortnum & Mason spelled Fortnum and Mason

*An ampersand on a hamper is officially called a hampersand. And by 'officially' we mean 'very much unofficially'.