While reading the Wikipedia article about the Plus and minus signs I found the so called commercial minus sign (Unicode character
U+2052 and HTML symbol
⁒). It looks similar to an Obelus (÷) or Percent sign (%) as you can see:
After some more research and googling for the German term "kaufmännisches Minuszeichen" I found that the commercial minus sign was and is widely used in bookkeeping to indicate a minus sign such as the following example shows. (It was also common to write
./. on typewriters instead.)
100€ "deducting" 20% equals 80€
The problem is that I can’t find any good information about this symbol and its history. As @El Otmani Ali pointed out in his post one theory is that this symbol is a "quicker / cursive based variant of the division sign in some old German books" (see his answer and this mailing list on unicode.org). On the other hand why should we use a different symbol, when we want to set a character italic?
So, do you know the origins of this rarely used and not really documented sign?
Note: The sans-serif typeface DejaVu Sans was used in the examples.