I wrote a application for smart phones (it'll be opensource, so no money involved in case you mind) which displays historic events which happend today some years ago, in other words, you would call the application "Today in History" or "This Day in History".

I'm searching for a application icon which shows two facts:

  • The historic feature of the app
  • The relation to the current day.

Until now, I choose a simple (flipping) calendar like the one below. This icon does not pay attention to the first point and it can easily mistaken for a calendar application. The only reason why I choose this icon is, that in Germany such kind of historic facts are typically written on the backside of calendar sheets, but I think this is far from clear for the user.

So: How to you put both, the historic context and the relation to the current day into a clear icon?

Other ideas (thanks Alex), are historic sites like the Acropolis or another temple, but here the second fact is lost.

flipping calendar temple

  • 3
    The calendar icon seems to firmly sit in the realm of scheduling applications; I'd take that one off the table unless you can modify it, perhaps by showing a bunch of calendar sheets (like ones torn off). Sep 23, 2011 at 18:10
  • I've seen a scroll used quite frequently. What do you mean "relation to the current day"? Are you wanting different icons for different lengths into the past, or an explicit statement of how many days/ect past?
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 23, 2011 at 21:07

11 Answers 11


I like the idea of going back in time as similar to history.. So a clock in reverse or going backwards seems to make sense to me.


Edit: To improve upon this concept, I'd give the clock hands some motion-blur so they actually appear to be moving backwards.

  • I think it's very clever, but I wouldn't use it because, well, it's a bit too clever. Requires some thinking. Sep 25, 2011 at 6:12
  • IE6 used a counterclockwise rotating icon for history. However it never looked enough like a clock to symobolise anything really (Its the greeny thing next to the envelope: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/it/2/25/Internet_Explorer_6.PNG )
    – PhillipW
    Sep 25, 2011 at 14:25

How about a sundial ?

  • It shows time

  • And its from the past.


Maybe a scroll with the calendar page on it?

Here's a 10 second mock-up just to get the gist, but it can be made much better for sure.

enter image description here


One general strategy is to adapt a common symbol of time such as a clock to suggest the relationship between the current day and history. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Juxtapose an old time measurement device such as a sundial with a new one, such as a typical round-faced clock. Since both can be round-faced, half of the face from the sundial could be placed to the left of the modern clock – suggesting sequential time.

  • Replace the sequence of digits on a round-faced clock to represent different periods of time, suggesting the progression of time through history to the present. One simple but effective solution might be to replace the typography of hour digits with those associated with different periods in history.


What about something that hearkens to the past, like a museum, archaeology, or that sort of thought?

Yes, it's excessively historical, but so are most icons.


How about something like this: http://www.iconfinder.com/icondetails/58875/128/accounting_history_icon Or something like this: http://www.iconfinder.com/icondetails/44290/32/history_icon, which is a bit similar to the icon that Apple uses for Time Machine.

Depending on how big you can make it, maybe even something like this would work: http://www.visionair.nl/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/time_travel.jpg

Note that these images may be copyrighted.


You can use a sand clock to represent time (now) with a historic perspective. For example, this one from Open Clipart:

enter image description here


To close the question, I try to provide my solution: I took the calendar-sheet but put a historic site on the sheet instead of numbers. It seemed the best solution for me:

Today In History Icon


Can you find or develop an icon that reflects the calender image, but a historical version of the calendar ( this sort of thing ) would be interesting - although that particular image would be too cryptic.


How about a spiral, similar to enter image description here next to text (label) that describes it. You might be able to throw some years in the spiral, but it depends on the size of the icon.


  • I am now hypnotised.
    – kinokijuf
    Jan 26, 2012 at 15:22

How about an image of a calendar with a historical-looking statue (a man on a horse with a sword?) on or next to it? There's a risk the icon would be too busy at a small size, but a good designer might be able to make it work.

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