Vintage Mardi Gras Typography

February 9th, 2015

Mardi Gras is upon us, and I’ve been researching vintage invitations from the late 19th and turn of the 20th century for inspiration. There are some great designs, but the typography is really amazing. The above gallery shows some details of my favorites from a great resource, MARDI GRAS TREASURES: Invitations of the Golden Age. There is a great variety of styles – some letters are diamond encrusted, some are made from the veins of a leaf or lightning, and some are just really beautiful. Another resource is the Carnival Collection at Tulane University available online. And even besides the invitations, a quick Google image search of “vintage mardi gras admit cards” or “vintage mardi gras dance cards” will yield even more. Some of the admit cards are even better than the invitations. As a designer, I’ve been trying to imagine what it would cost to produce some of these today (a whole lot) with all the die cuts, metallics, custom lettering and illustration. A lot of the dance cards have tiny pencils attached with ribbon or tassels. Not to mention they’re litho and not our typical offset printing of today. Even though this typography is over 100 years old, it feels fresh to me in its unique expression, and impressive in the skill of the mostly unknown designers who created it.


Nicole Stowe
I've been in the advertising industry for over fourteen years in Jackson, MS, specializing in Design, Color and Branding. To keep myself sane, I make food-themed block prints. Just for fun, I collect vintage cameras and photography. To satisfy my curiosity, I read a lot about science. And for who knows what reason, sometimes I create conceptual Jell-O.

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