Top Symbols of the World, Volume 1

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Top Symbols of the World, Volume 1

Top Symbols & Trademarks of the World is a seven volume series from Franco Maria Ricci & Corinna Ferrari, and Italian publisher Deco Press. The series, published in 1973 was an unprecedented initiative to catalogue many of the finest examples of trademark design of the time. What marks this series out is both the format and the approach Ricci and Ferrari took.

The book is conveniently compact relative to other publications of the same period, offering a practical easy-to-handle reference tool. Each of the volumes is a slim hardback edition with a white silk screennprinted cover and carrying around 700 trademarks each. These are collated geographically, which leads me to the editorial approach.

It was common for logo books to source their collections, not just from designers, but from earlier publications. This, having spent nearly a decade archiving logos, led to the poor and inaccurate reproduction of many of the logos. Fine lines disappear and ink bleed eventually becomes a puddle. Ricci and Ferrari worked directly with the designers to source the original files and complete information. It is not entirely accurate, a couple of the examples are upside down (Yamada Lighting Co. by Mitsuo Katsui, Volume 3), and incorrect information but this is a tiny fraction of well over 7000 logos across the seven volumes.

The series is, for the most part, split by country but where there are fewer examples, countries have been grouped together (Japan, Spain & Latin America) or in the case of the United States, split into two parts due to the sheer volume of work generated by the country. Volume 2 feature United States Part 2 and Canada.

While the trademarks collated vary in their quality, the mid-century, a period of vast modernisation across the western world can be recognised as a driving force behind much of the work and across many of the countries. However, it is the essays that proceed the trademarks that are the real highlight, charting the developments of corporate identity design for each country represented by each volume, with a few exceptions, there's no essay for Japan. These are authored by designers from each of the countries and include the likes of Canadian designer Burton Kramer and American designer George Nelson for Volume 1 and British design Collin Forbes for Volume 4. While there is a strong modernist quality that proliferates, the essays and the collation of logos by countries do real certain commonalities and differences. For instance, Volume 3 sees quite a transition from Japan to Spain, with the former employing far more circular forms and allusions to natural phenomena, and the latter irregular forms and wider compositions. This of course, is shaped by the selection process and preferences of the editors, but the essays somewhat help to ground these in cultural specificities.

It is a lovely series to have, a full set takes up very little room, offers access to 7000+ logos from the 1940–70s, and very easy to handle for referencing. I love Kuwayama's two similarly named Trademarks & Symbols of the World, but they are unwieldy and a pain to handle, these are not, they sit comfortably in one hand and easy to flick through.

Title: Top Symbols of the World,
Volume 1: United States, Part 1
Editors: Franco Maria Ricci & Corinna Ferrari.
Year: 1973