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Long before people have been sending messages to one another. Before paper was invented,  people used different materials for their letters, they used leather, clay, plant leaves and papyrus.  As time went by and paper was discovered, people began creating their letters in a more formal way. It was not until the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century that letterheads that we know today came to life.

The existence of printing presses and the advent of Industrial design – which could’ve been a precursor to the minimalist movement of the 1960s – caused the ubiquity of letterheads among prominent people and businesses during that time. It may have also caused the departure from the bourgeois and intricate style of Art Nouveau and the Victorian style of design.

The departure from Victorian style and Art Nouveau led to a change of heart in design. With the guiding philosophy of Industrial design – functionality over form – people began adopting simpler designs that was easier to produce and cheaper.

It was during the 20th century that we saw the bloom and importance of the letterhead. It allowed people and, especially, companies to create an identity for for their business. It gave way to different ideas and application of advertisements and new art movements that came after the 19th century.

Here are some sample designs divided into three groups – the early and latter part of the 20th, and the 21st century.

Early Part of the 20th Century

During the advent of the 20th century, people and businesses used varying designs on their letterheads. With most prominent people using simple and minimalist designs, and businesses used differeng images that can be attributed to their industry.

Latter part of the 20th Century

We saw the rise of radio and television during the latter part of the 20th century. With the rising advertising industry, the need for a corporate identity becomes more apparent. During this period we saw different changes and the rise of rebellious youth, which could’ve influenced the different design styles that were used during this period.

The 21st Century

The current designs of letterheads has evolved – from the functional minimalist to the radical post-modern style of design. Designers today have a knack for combining different influences derived from past art movements; from Minimalism to conceptual art to post-modern styles of design.

Letterheads has become played a pivotal role for a lot of people – from personalities to businesses – it has allowed people to create an identity for other people to know who they are, and what they do. It has provided an avenue for businesses to explore and reach out to the people. More Vintage Postcards Can be found on Letterheady.

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Posted by Victor

Victor is a writer whose interests range from philosophy and technology to marketing and design. Most of his works focus on print media - advertising and products. But there are times when he writes about random things. Victor resides in LA, California. He currently ponders about life. He also enjoys broadsheets, paper backs, coffee, cigarettes and some love.

9 Comments

  1. Those are awesome! I might even say i like the older letterheads more than the modern ones 🙂

  2. Nice to see this collection. Some of them really from inspiring people.

  3. Many thanks for sharing this collection, it’s such an insight to see the development of something that isn’t always the most thought of.

  4. very inspiring collection of letterheads… wicked! 😛

  5. I find it incredible that no mention of my website, Letterheady, exists within this post, despite the fact that the majority of its content was found there. It’s actually quite amusing that your website is called “Inspiration Feed,” yet you fail to point to the websites that inspire your own work; in fact there isn’t a single source link to be found for any of the images you showcase.

    Very shoddy.

  6. Igor Ovsyannykov August 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Yes there is, every single image is linked to the source. Also if an image is not linked then the article specifies where it was found in case a visitor want to know. A also added your link to the article, hope this helps.

  7. “Yes there is, every single image is linked to the source.”

    Really? Show me where. As far as I can tell, not one of the images in the above post is linked to a source. Check again.

  8. Absolutely fab compilation and good story telling. Wow you guys never throw anything out do you? As a former print broker foe the largest firm of print farmers in Europe at the time, I can’t count how many print proofs have passed through my fingers. Paper abd the written word say so much more than 167 characters of texting could ever do. But the evolution of modern media has seen the print industry in decline 🙁

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