<em>American Trademarks: A Compendium</em> is just that, a compendium of trademarks from Blik and Tyler's previous books, Trademarks of the 20's and 30's, 40's and 50's, and 60's and 70's. This book collects them all in one place, but also includes a series of fantastic essays by a dozen or so trademark design luminaries.

Estimate time to read this page: 2 – 3 minutes

Edition Reviewed: Paperback
Recommendation: Buy it. Read it. Refer to it.

This book is a compilation of a previous set of books by the authors, entitled Trademarks of the 20s and 30s, and so on up to the 60s and 70s (which I, coincidentally, also own and didn’t know it). Those individual books are lots of fun to go through when you’re feeling like the uniformity of modern trademark design is keeping you down, or you need to try to decode the secret of the long-term success of trademarks. This book is great for that too, but the really valuable part of this new book is a series of essays written by a notable collection of trademark design luminaries like Charles Anderson, Dana Arnett, Stephen Doyle, Woody Pirtle, Paula Scher, and Scott Stowell among others.

I actually bought this book almost entirely out of guilt. Before I actually plunked down the cash for it, I had read every single one of the essays more than once. It had become my favorite distraction for those times when I decided that the most productive thing I could do was ride my bike to the local bookstore (which, alas, was a Border’s), buy a coffee, and read in public. It wasn’t until I had read them all for the third or fourth time that I decided that, if ever an author deserved my money, it was Erik Baker and Tyler Blik. So I bought it, and put it on my shelf, and forgot about it.

Then I got a project that required that I design a trademark that looked like it was designed at the turn of the 20th century, and this book became my best friend. This book is full of “mistakes” that we would never make these days, and that’s what makes the trademarks in this book so charming. It lets us see some of the fantastic limbs that our predecessors used to climb out on.

In the months since, I’ve prescribed it as required reading around the office and recommended it to my colleagues. I’ve reread it more than once, and it’s worked its way into the opening research routine for any trademark design project. I can’t recommend it highly enough.