Weird History

Check Out These Letterhead Designs Famous People Used Throughout History

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Vote up the celebrity letterheads you'd most like to use.

We’ve all seen letterheads before—the text and design at the top of a letter—but we rarely stop to think about it. This roundup of famous people’s letterhead gives us a peek into their private lives. Letterheads are at least 4,000 years old—way back in 2500 BCE, a Babylonian priest drew himself at the top of a clay tablet, and the trend was officially born. Since then, letterheads have gone through a lot of changes, especially in the last 150 years. Today, they can be an artistic statement, an advertisement, or even a work of art. 

Vintage letterhead designs evolved over time. In the nineteenth century, letterheads often featured a portrait of the writer, as with Abraham Lincoln’s letterhead. Distinctive designs became popular in the twentieth century. Iconic cartoonists like Charles M. Schulz, Chuck Jones, and Bill Watterson included their characters on their letterhead, as did Dr. Seuss. Some famous people chose understated, classic designs, like Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra, while others went with a louder look, like Ray Charles’s musical lines or David Bowie's glam letterhead.

Each letterhead is a glimpse into a famous person’s life and how they see themselves. Ray Bradbury’s intricate letterhead and J.K. Rowling’s Owl Post-inspired letterhead instantly convey something about the authors. Others, like John F. Kennedy and Robert Ripley of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, use letterhead to loudly promote themselves. 

And then of course there’s Richard Simmons, in a category of his own.