Monday, April 16, 2012

Vintage business typography & illustration

These companies aimed to impress, and they did. Documenting the rise of the US as an industrial nation, their grandiose bills of sale, letterheads, envelopes, checks, and business cards come from "The Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery" at Columbia University. This unique collection of printed ephemera has more than 1,300 items from 1850–1920 and covering 45 states. The collection's elaborate vignettes show factories, warehouses, mines, offices, stores, banks, and hotels.
I guess we don't have to ask "Where's the beef?" Design is so streamlined today that these can seem a bit overwhelming after a while. For a palate cleanser, try American Modernism: Graphic Design, 1920 to 1960
I like the last sample because of the handwritten letter (especially the whiskey for $1/gallon).


  1. I totally love the old typography!!! Wow $1 for a gallon of whiskey!!!!!

  2. Some of the lettering and colors remind me of the style of dollar bills. I love vintage stuff!

  3. Such a labor of love!! Really makes it apparent how little effort goes into it these days... Edward Gorey would be proud of all the cross-hatching!

    1. It also makes me wonder when the movement away from heavy typography to more graphic print in advertisement began. And why? It seems even before the use of color in print become cheaper and more widely available, fewer words made it to the final printing. This also reminds me of your Mad Men post, where roughly 30 yrs later quite a difference can be seen.

  4. This old typography is really great specially the font and style selected here is very unique. All this vintage stuff can never get old!!