Yahoo! logo and an early Yippies logo

yippie.jpg Looking through the huge stack of FOIA-revealed 1960s-vintage FBI documents on the Yippies (The Youth International Party), I spotted this logo used on an early flyer. I wonder if it was an inspiration for Yahoo's logo, created thirty years later? Yahoo's was designed by Organic, Inc. in 1995, and refined a few years later to use the Able typeface (also used in the Harry Potter franchise) Able, from foundry T26. The typeface was designed by Marcus Burlile, who was not born until the 1970s. I've got emails in with Organic and someone I hope is the right Mr. Burlile to ask if they were familiar with the old flyer. I have also asked the remaining Yippies if they used a time machine to appropriate Jerry Yang's design genius. The whole flyer is posted below. Anyone know the score? yippieflyer.jpg


  1. Perhaps Marcus Burlile’s parents were yippees and had such posters in their home.

    Whoever drew that poster has excellent penmanship.

  2. The uppercase Ys look remarkably similar, with the different heights of the top branches and the serifs, but there’s not much else that does. The Yippie font has no consistent serifs on anything but the uppercase Y, and in fact the uppercase A is drawn three different ways on this one poster.

    Still, pretty cool find.

  3. Unrelated. The up and down lettering style has long been in use for showcard lettering – long before “Yippie!”

    1. Amazing likeness. I bet the Google logo designer just Googled “google” and stole it. Wait…

  4. I should have posted the photo comment here too:

    “This is a picture I took in California’s Hearst Castle Museum of a comic strip in a newspaper on display.

    The comic strip is entitled ‘Barney Google’ and google is in the exact same font as Google’s logo today. Below the logo is the text ‘registered U.S Patent office’.

    The paper is dated August 14, 1936.”

  5. The early-Yippie logo is drawn in two different, very amateur styles. (It’s not a typeface.) The style the Y is in (with the serifs) is one that’s easy to draw. I used it myself in hand-drawn posters in the ’60s and ’70s.

    Typefaces are not copyrightable in the US, and I don’t think calligraphic styles are, either. You can probably find similar typefaces by other type designers.


  6. In the mid 90’s there was a headshop in the West Village in NYC on west 4th street called “Yahoo”.

    Same exact typography as the “Yahoo” website. (I still have the business card – bright yellow with a red Yahoo)

    One day, the shop closes down for a few weeks and reopens MUCH larger and with a different name.

    They only thing the shop owner would say is that ‘*they* paid me a lot of money’.

  7. JDavid is right: this style of exuberant lettering was in use long before Yahoo! was born. I can remember imitating this style myself in the ’60s, drawing by hand with a stylus on mimeograph stencils, letting alignments bounce and drawing out those pointy wedge-shaped serifs as far as they would go. I assume the original Yahoo! logo was deliberately done in what was then already a retro style, reminiscent of ’50s ads and cartoons, both animated and still. The lettering on the Yippie flyer was obviously done in the same spirit.

    All of these logos (except perhaps the 1936 Barney Google newspaper label, which looks like type) would have been hand-lettered, even if the designers might have drawn on a manufactured typeface for inspiration. (And if the Yahoo! logo was really “refined later to use the Able typeface,” then it must have been a custom version, since none of the examples on the T-26 website match the logo. They’re just similar.)

  8. Hate to poop in the pool, kids, but the Google logo on is NOT the “exact same” font as in the Barney Google comic. Close, but not exact. Any common serif font would look like the Google logo. Enneywaze…

  9. Just a hunch out of the blue, but I wonder if this flyer was done by Bhob Stewart. He did cartoons for Krassner’s Realist and the “Y” somehow reminds me of him…

  10. It’s funny we’re obsessing with the scribbled Yippie! lettering and missing the overall gist of this flyer which concerns the very famous Grand Central Station Yip-In. If I’m not mistaken, many heads were bashed in (by concerned cops) including Abbie Hoffman’s head. Flyers such as this one were obviously created with little means, possibly with only a mimeograph machine and a couple of typewriters and ink pens. I assure you the creator(s) of this flyer were not nitpicking over the style of lettering. Anyone who was in charge of doing flyers probably had their mind set on the upcoming protest activities. That being said, I would seriously doubt the founders of Yahoo! got logo inspiration from a relatively obscure Yippie! flyer. It would be rather horrifying if they did : )

  11. back in the art school days in the mid-90’s my new genres professor used to tell stories of the yippies’ dreams to change the world using cable TV which they thought to be a ground breaking way to allow communication between people that didn’t depend on the existing power structures. he also used to point out that the cable networks were co-opted by the cable companies, and the dreams died in censorship, surviving only in community access channels.

    at the time the web was just getting going but already the parallels between the yippie’s dreams and what the web really offered were clear. even if it only meant that each of us were entitled to 15 min of fame on youtube.

    so may be there’s more to this than just visual inspiration.

  12. Jay Kinney’s speculation is interesting in that I might well have once lettered a “Y” with pointed serifs, but I didn’t do that flyer. At the time of the Yippie dreams, I was in Brooklyn creating Wacky Packages and other humor products for Topps Chewing Gum. I did manage to sneak the word “Yippie” into a 1968 set of goofy Topps stickers (because it looked like “yippee”).

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