#79, Ringstrasse, Vienna
There's something irresistibly European about the 7 with a slash through it. It's rare to see it pop up on this side of the Atlantic and it usually appears only in handwriting to differentiate it from the handwritten 1. I had a brief phase some time ago where I gave the 7 a whirl in my own correspondence, just to see if it lent me that certain old school European je ne sais quoi. The gesture was enthusiastic but short-lived, the handwriting equivalent of dyeing my hair with Manic Panic, or like the three weeks where I decided to add the French accents over the "e"s in my name. Most of these re-inventions die out mercifully quickly. The slashed-seven, alas, does not routinely flow from my quill. But when I see one looking as good as this 79, I want to kick-start the pretension all over again.
But back to the EU. Taking the idea further, there's a striking stylistic similarity between the 7 and the euro symbol, officially adopted in 1997. It could be coincidence, but here's food for thought. According to the European Commission:
The creation fable is disputed - aren't they all? - by graphic designer Arthur Eisenmenger, who claims to have developed the symbol a quarter century before. Still, it's impossible not to admire the simplicity of the design as well as the consistency with not just the 7 but also other currencies. Beside the euro, the pound and the yen also use horizontal lines. (Though as a devotee of the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks , I'm skeptical of the commission's claim that drawing = through the letter C will "certify" economic stability.) The quest for the ideal typographical icon is spreading to other countries and regions as well. Driven by money-grubbing motives Inspired by the elegance of the euro sign, designers are working right now to develop a currency symbol for the Indian rupee . Sharpen those pencils and break out the Moleskines, folks. The Indian government wants you.
But the question remains - and maybe my readers can help me out here - what is that little slash through the seven called? I found myself Googling all versions of "7," "squiggle," "slash," "typography" and consulted an article on the excellent I Love Typography site. Serifs, counters, ascenders, descenders, spines, stems, terminals and ligatures: there's a word for every part of a typeface. Everything, it seems, except the 7. If there are any typographer lurkers out there who can enlighten me, by all means. In the meantime, I'll open the question to my language lovers (you know who you are): if you had your druthers, what would you name the squiggle through the 7? I'm putting in my vote for the Euroslash. But hey, this is a democracy, right?