Shorts: Bicentennial Council
Lance Wyman & Bill Cannan's 1973 logo for the Bicentennial Council of the 13 Original States
From the Editor: We have a lot of stories to tell, some of these are short but fascinating. Logo Histories’ Shorts is an additional free post that bring these to our readers. To access our longer fully illustrated Logo Histories and support the project, upgrade to paid. A special thanks to those who have already done this. I hope you enjoy these additional insights.
The Bicentennial Council of the 13 Original States (BCTOS) was formed in 1970. It represented the official Bicentennial Commissions of the first 13 states as they prepared to celebrate the American Bicentennial of 1976. These individual celebrations would eventually turn into the larger coordinated American Revolution Bicentennial event following the formation of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration (ARBA) in 1973.
The 1970’s was the era of the Federal Design improvement Program (FDIP), a concerted effort to further Federal design, and develop visual identities with instant recognition. This programme included Federal agencies and initiatives such as NASA, the Federal Energy Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The creation of the symbol for BCTOS was placed in the hands of Wyman & Cannan Company of New York City, which was run by the renowned designer Lance Wyman (Mexico 68, National Zoo) and partner Bill Cannan (Channel 5 – Boston Broadcasters)
The design put forward by Wyman and Cannan, and selected by the council was composed of 13 interlinked stars that formed an unbroken ring. This was based on two designs from the Revolutionary War period. The first, a circle of 13 links from the Second New Hampshire Regimental flag, was brought to attention by Dr. J. Duane Squires of New Hampshire, and chairman of the Council. The second, was the constellation field from the flag of the original 13 states; the first version of the stars and stripes.
Although based on the historical references, Wyman and Cannan managed to bring a modern and creative flair, and the ability for the BCTOS symbol to be used in a number of situations, be that cast in concrete, cast as part of metal commemorative coins or printed throughout formal communications. As a final detail, cursive text that was composed of letters taken directly from the Declaration of Independence was added. This was then used in various configurations alongside the symbol to reinforce the historic significance of the forthcoming celebrations.
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Finally, with consideration afforded to the range of applications, there was also a flexibility given to the logo, with the centre counter-space being used for other secondary and bicentennial-related iconography for specific events and places. In some examples, this included an image of a state, pictograms such as a bike, or the cursive lettering looped into a circle.
After the celebrations of 1976 the offices were relocated to Alexandria, Virginia and in 1981 became the Council of the Thirteen Original States Inc. It was no longer a governmental agency but a private organisation that was engaged in various initiatives and conferences around American history.
Next week on Logo Histories:
Karl Gerstner’s Shell
Last week on Logo Histories, we shared the story of the DSB – the Danish States Railways – by Niels Hartmann. Next week, I’ll share the second part of the Shell logo story. Following on from Yusaku Kamekura’s design, we’ll take a look at how Swiss designer Karl Gerstner approached the very same commission. Subscribe today and receive this story straight into your inbox next week. Subscribers to our paid newsletter also receive 10% discount from LogoArchive Shop.
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