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In the decades before email and the internet, people actually wrote letters on physical pieces of paper. I know it’s hard to believe, but pictured above are a few examples from a new site devoted to them. If you are looking for an addictive way to kill two hours, check out each and every page of Shaun Usher’s Letterheady blog.

For the past year, Usher has been regularly posting rare blank stationary of the rich and famous, with an emphisis on entertainers, animators and comics creators. The letterhead site is a companion to his Letters of Note (P.S. Check out today’s message from John K.). Highlights (for me) include this 1930s Hal Roach Studios piece, and this 1959 Harvey Comics page. Imagine getting a letter from Jay Ward on this letterhead! Those were the days!

(Thanks, Devlin)

  • Is it just me or is it jaw dropping that at one time people could casually put a blatant pickaninny on their letterhead?

    • its just you buddy

      • It’s jaw dropping to me also. Thank goodness that era is over.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        And yet it didn’t surprise me at all.

      • As Chris said, there is nothing surprising about this. Anyone with a grasp of this aspect of history, especially as it affects North America, might have a range of emotions, but surprise is the least of them or not in that set of feelings at all.

        I like the post overall – thanks, Jerry! – including the last letterhead’s inclusion, but certain comments (as with all threads of this nature, on and off Cartoon Brew) show how easy it is to still poke fun or dismiss race and ethnicity.

        The seeming innocuousness of these representations in media/communications such as a cartoon or whimsical business letterhead is what made the transmission of these ideas so powerful in the first place.

    • Stephan

      I’m more amazed that at one point a race was a novelty. As a culture we cycle through minorities for that lame thrill. Enjoy Outsourced on NBC, America.

    • David Breneman

      The world (at least in the US) has changed. That’s a good thing.

  • Re:
    –is it jaw dropping that at one time people could casually put a blatant pickaninny on their letterhead?–

    Some might take offense that you refer to Mickey Mouse as a “pickaninny”.

  • The racist stereotype aside, letterhead is quite cool and still used in some business correspondence.
    One of my personal treasures is a letter from 1982 or so, to me from Chuck Jones, on his company’s letterhead. I also have one from Art Clokey, but the letter itself is rather boring.

  • I mentioned Letterheady on my own blog a few months ago but could only find a few animation-related posts, and they most certainly were not the ones shown above!

    It’s great to see these things, even if it is a wee bit sad to think that such expressive works of art have been cast aside by the march of technology. When was the last time you were greeted by a wonderfully explicit header in an e-mail? It’s just not the same is it?

  • Dr. Ivo Robotnik

    Lawdy, dem show is sum good lettaheds!

  • …hmmm…

  • I cant believe Fantasia had its own letterhead!

    Interesting post. Thanks!