When digging through the archives of a magazine that published as many issues as LIFE did through the years, one occasionally encounters something so surprising that it simply has to be shared. And so—behold: the only cover among the thousands published by the venerable weekly, across five decades, that did not feature the red-and-white LIFE logo in the upper left-hand corner.
In a brief note on the issue’s contents page, the editors provided a memorable reason for excluding the logo: “LIFE’s title,” they wrote, “is not boldly superimposed on this week’s cover because that would have spoiled the composition” of photographer Torkel Korling’s portrait of the white leghorn.
The full story of the logo’s exclusion, meanwhile, can be found in a letter from a retired Time & Life employee named Al Zingaro that ran in the Jan. 5, 1987, issue of an in-house Time Inc. newsletter, F.Y.I.:
Granted, this was still fairly early in LIFE’s existence: in April 1937, Luce’s magazine had been around for less than two years. Nevertheless, there’s something to be admired about a publisher who would forgo, even temporarily, his magazine’s distinctive logo simply because he felt it would impinge on the integrity of a photograph . . . of a rooster.
Nicely played, Mr. Luce. Nicely played, indeed.
Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of LIFE.com