stationery / letterheads books ?

nlx's picture

Libraries are full of crappy letterheads+stationery books; but i miss to have ever seen a good one.

I found only one to be somewhat usefull that is : Designer's Sationery from Roger Walton.
Its not great but good.

Do you have any great references ?

nlx's picture

So theres nothing ? its what i was afraid off !!!

aluminum's picture

Rockport has all sorts of books on that subject:

nlx's picture

As i said I know theres tons of books about letterheads and i think 99% are crap.

So what i'm searchin is references of good ones.

aluminum's picture

define 'good'

nlx's picture

easy :

good = not evil

nlx's picture

seriously, i don't think anyone can define 'good' design

but i can show you what is evil :

Unified's picture

what's evil about this? It's stylized approach for a specific client, maybe?

aluminum's picture

You really aren't giving us anything to go on, nlx. We have no clue as to what you think makes that '1% good' so I don't think we'll by much help to you.

BlueStreak's picture

The goodest ever. And I double dog dare you to pull off anything as good as shown in this book. It's just not done anymore and hasn't been for decades.

It's out of print, but you can get one on Amazon for $3.28 plus shipping. Cabarga even claims that "violent skinhead types might enjoy the book too." I'm not sure of that, but all things are possible.

Eluard's picture

FWIW I agree with you nix — I think the tanning factory letterhead is pretty awful. Terrible colours, very cluttered over the page.

Eluard's picture

*Accidental double post*

blank's picture

I picked up the latest edition of The Big Book of Letterheads, and it’s pretty clear that Carter put a lot of thought into what got in. It’s mostly drek-free, and it’s cool to see what people are doing with letterheads that never go out in an envelope and stationery systems without business cards.

nlx's picture


I'm sure you can understand that 'defining good' is an impossible task, in any field. Even philosophs can't define good.

But in graphic design, there are books that are references. For exemple, Grid System is a design bible, like The Elements of Typographic Style or Counterpunch. Most of us can agree with this.

So i'm searching books that have the same universal quality and that can be a reference for stationary. I doubt there is one, but for sure some must be better than others. So all designers that are interested in letterheads etc. must have searched for this and can share there conclusions.

Me as i said, i found nothing really helpfull but the Designer’s Sationery from Roger Walton. But really its not as timeless and wellmade as we can hope.

+ Something i don't like in letterheads books too, as, to me, it often look very american, and for me (european, and french) it really look exotic and unusable (the image i posted is a an exemple).


Thanks for your references.
• I was wondering about the Carter one, i need to check it in a library.
• about LETTERHEADS: One Hundred Years of Great Design, 1850-1950. The cover look VERY american to me and well it seems something more historic-centred so it can be interesting in this perspective.

I'm suprprise too that any book seems to be interested in elaboring rules and technical requests on this topic. (cause in this area it seems there are very important !)

nlx's picture

Just for reference. But i don't think you can find it brand new.
I'm not sure i would recomend it either. Its just not as bad as…
+ its not about designing letterhead for big corps or anything, but still interesting (the layout is terrible btw)

nlx's picture

and what about Graphis Letterhead serie ? Never seen it ? i'm afraid it's borring…

aluminum's picture

"that can be a reference for stationary. I doubt there is one"

Hmm...I'd probably agree. I'm not sure there really is any tried and true rules of stationery. Whatever works, seems to work.

In many ways, stationery is going the way of annual reports...

AGL's picture

Hi there,

A definition of good design and printing could be relative to the time dedicated to craft a design and the print.

One thing I know, if your stationery is printed letterpress, patiently plated and printed, even a bad design can look good.


nancy sharon collins's picture

Hi there, about a decade ago AIGA sponsored an exhibit on engraved letterhead and the accompanying catalog is the best I have ever seen.

Today, my graphic design business is devoted to engraving which is even finer than letterpress for beautiful type. Buddy up with an engraving company (there are few anymore so find one now before they all go away.)

FYI: In America, the trade term "engraving" refers to any intaglio printing process but most is actually etched, not engraved. You can go to my website for some looks and tips.

blank's picture

Leave it to the engraver to one up everybody ;b

Seriously, Nancy, that you’re willing and able to dedicate yourself to engraved stationery is fabulous. Especially in a world where so many people are picking their designs from the book of options at Kinko’s/Staples/Office Depot.

nancy sharon collins's picture

James and anybody interested:

Please let me know if anyone is interested in knowing about engraving, it has been my area of interest since graduate school in the late 70s and is now my formal academic area of research. I teach graphic design, graphic design history and typography and use the historic model of engraving as the base for almost everything I teach. So, if anyone wants information of it (including monograms, cyphers and etc.,) just ask.

James: you are lucky, there are still a couple of engraving shops in the D.C. area. Next time I am there I will be giving a mid-day lecture on monograms and engraving at an architectural firm. I will post it on this blog site so you will know.

AGL's picture

Hi Nancy,

Wow! I have been on your site and I love it! I bookmarked it.
The fine details on illustrations... Metal plates are optimal for fine details and don't get busted by pressure.
As you know today's letterpress goes mostly with photopolymer plates. In my case I realized that photopolymer is good, if the thinner details are not smaller then 0.3 of a point. When reproducing screens, the line screen amount is low, around 50 lpi.
I remember back in the seventies the shop I worked for used brass plates for long run jobs, and also for fine detail and screened jobs.
I believe that are people out there who recognizes printed art when they see it.
Lucky You!

kofb's picture

Quick question — I know this is a little off topic but, anyone see something in the "tanning" staytionery?

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