The term "rebus" also refers to the use of a pictogram to represent a syllabic sound. This adapts pictograms into phonograms. A precursor to the development of the alphabet, this process represents one of the most important developments of writing.
The writing of correspondence in rebus form became popular in the 18th century and continued into the 19th century. Lewis Carroll wrote the children he befriended picture-puzzle rebus letters, nonsense letters, and looking-glass letters, which had to be held in front of a mirror to be read. Rebus letters served either as a sort of code or simply as a pastime.
The more popular rebuses contain simple English letters of the alphabet in different sizes, colors and other manipulations that often represent popular sayings and phrases.
Both messages were rebuses in the French language: deux mains sous Pé, cent sous scie? (= demain souper, Sanssouci?, "supper tomorrow, Sanssouci?"); reply: "big G, small a!", Gé grand, A petit! (= j'ai grand appétit!, "I am very hungry!").
Rebus Principle (Linguistics) is using the existing symbols, such as pictograms, purely for their sounds regardless of their meaning, to represent new words. Many ancient writing systems used Rebus principle to represent abstract words, which otherwise would be hard to be represented by pictograms. An example that illustrates the Rebus principle is the representation of the sentence “I can see you” by using the pictographs of “eye - can – sea – ewe”.
A rebus was used on the Continental Congress Patterns minted in 1776 and later on the "Fugio Cent", the first federal coin, minted in 1787. According to Walter Breen, Elisha Gaullaudet engraved the dies, using sketches of Benjamin Franklin. The obverse depicts a sundial with the terms "Fugio" and "Mind Your Business". Fugio means "I flee", the sundial means time and "mind your business" means "do your work". Therefore this rebus read "time flees so do your work".
A famous rebus statue of Ramses II uses three hieroglyphs to compose his name: Horus (as Ra), for Ra; the child, mes; and the sedge plant-(stalk held in left hand), su; the name Ra-mes-su is then formed.