Vintage Stencil Fonts - Guide
astype font library of historic and vintage stencil typefaces, overview of major stencil manufacturers, brands, organized by country
All of these lists are by no means exhaustive or complete.
Especially in the area of Grotesque, Gothic (Sans Serif) stencil designs there are many variations.
We have tried to list all historical manufacturers and brands.
The period covered is from about 1840 to the 1970s.
All astype Vtg Stencil fonts are drawn from real physical stencils made from genuine antique, historic, or vintage stenciling tools and machines. The "letter bridges" of the fonts have the right amount of space to produce real physical stencil tools that will last.
Today, you can order almost any stencil design in China in a variety of materials. In DIY stores or in the Internet, you can find products that have any brand on them, but it is not really the manufacturer. This practice has also led to the global distribution of stencil designs that were originally limited to one country or region.
United States of America, USA
| S.W. Reese & Co. in Chicago, IL., 1876
| Eugene L. Tarbox, 87 Nassau St., ca. 1830 -> later
| New York Stencil Works, 87 Nassau St., ca. 1868
| General Stencils, Inc. Brooklyn, New York, ca. 1950
| Stafford Mfg. Co., Inc., 66 Fulton St., Brooklyn, New York, 1874
| C. H. Hanson Co. Chicago, Illinois, 1866
| S.G. Monce, Inc.
| The Fletcher-Terry Company, Forestville, Connecticut, 1868
| Sears Roebuck and Co.
Reeses (Eureka) later Hanson, Stencil Outfit, Carragan, Dunlap, General, Staffords
Stencil Machine Manufacturers:
| Bradley Stencil Machine Co., St. Louis, Missouri, 1893
| Diagraph Stencil Machine Corp. St. Louis, Missouri, 1902
| Diagraph-Bradley Stencil Machine Corp. St. Louis, Mo., 1937- ca. 1947
| Diagraph-Bradley Industries Inc. Herrin, Illinoise ca. 1947-
| Ideal Stencil Machine Co., Belleville, Illinois, 1911-2002
| Marsh Stencil Machine Co., Belleville, Illinois, 1922
| *Garvey, Universal, MagicMarker (UK) and ACE (Australia) brands are licensed or refurbished Diagraph machines.
Single Stencil Plate Designs
The Roman, a Bold Clarendon based Serif, stencil type designs was used for stencil fans, stencil wheels, and the very common single plates (adjustable, interlocking plates too) and custom designs, about from the 1850s.
Suitable fonts for all historically accurate Wild West and American Civil War scenarios.
The stencil plates were used for labeling boxes, barrels, canvas bags (especially in agriculture), and names on travel packages.
They were used throughout the years, even during World War I and World War II. If they are less used today, it is because of other stencil tools and the changing spirit of the times, which since the 1940s has tended toward the increased use of grotesque/gothic typefaces - especially through the use of stencil cutting machines with feature mostly gothic type designs.
US No. 2
US No. 4
US No. 1
These fonts are suitable for historically accurate use from the 1940s to the 1970s.
US No. 51
US No. 72
Stencil Cutting Machines and their Typefaces
The type designs for these machines were greatly simplified.
Engineers designed them for technical feasibility.
The typographic characteristics of the typeface or the taste of the time did not play a major role in this.
The first stencil cutting machine was invented in 1893 by Andrew Jackson Bradley (US Pat. 494.546), the horizontal model (Long Bradley), using a Slap Serif design with minor contrast. The later circular stencil machines (invented by A. J. Bradley 1894, George Remnsnider 1908 (US Pat. 922.815) and Stephen D. Hartog 1909 (US Pat. 964.251)), which arranged all dies in a circle used a Roman slab serif and Gothic sans serif type designs. However, later stencil type designs (the design of the punches and dies) were quickly changed to Gothic design only because the punches and dies were easier to make and the wear and tear on the parts could be reduced with simpler letter shapes. As the punches and dies evolved, the ends of the letters became more rounded compared to the early designs.
Bredlay Stencil Machine Company, 1893 - 1936 | Slab Serif Roman and Gothic type
Diagraph Stencil Machine Corporation, 1902 - 1936 | Gothic type
Diagraph-Bradley Machine Corp./Industries, 1937 | Gothic type
Ideal Stencil Machine Co., 1911 | Gothic type
Marsh Stencil Machine Company, 1922 | Gothic type
*Garvey, Universal, MagicMarker, ACE
You may be wondering, do all these stencil machines come from the USA?
The answer is yes. In fact, all of these inventions and the people involved in them came from the same region, from the same city, St. Louis, and from the neighboring city of Belleville.
*There was also Diagraph-Bradley stencil cutting machines branded as Garvey and Universal from about the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. Garvey (Garvey Fountain Brush and Ink Co., St. Louis, Mo. ) and Universal (Universal Fountain Brush Co., St. Petersburg, Fla.) sold all kinds of supplies for marking. These were probably licensed machines or replicas, as some patents for stencil machines expired. MagicMarker was such a brand from the UK for the local market even so the brand ACE (Ace Marking Equipment) for Australia.
The US Army, Navy, and Air Force purchased and used stencil machines for marking during World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
They are still in use today, although their importance has greatly diminished with the use of standard freight containers and the digitalization of logistics systems.
Marsh stated in his company biography that after World War II, the government sold off so many unneeded stencil machines that it was difficult to sell new machines. Marsh made an effort to return its own machines to stabilize the market price. The machines were refurbished and resold over the next years. Marsh Co.'s best selling stencil machine during WWII was the Model S for ¾" stencils.
Note: The size of the stencil letters was fixed and depended on the machine. Usually there were machines for 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, and 1 inch. Diagraph-Bradley Jumbo models could cut 1 ¾," 1 ½" ,1 ¼", and 2" letters. Ideal produced also machines for smaller and in between sizes like 5/8", 7/16", 3/16" and 3/32" and in the 1960s or 1970s a Big Ideal for 2" stenicls - one of the rarest machines.
For possible use cases, it should also be noted that the stencil cutting machines were manufactured in the US or under license. Therefore, there were general agencies of Diagraph-Bradley, Marsh, and Ideal in Europe. So the use of these designs for props is always correct from the 1920s on. However, the big time for importing and using these machines in Europe began after World War II. Some of the later Diagraph and Ideal machines were even produced with dies for the Cyrillic alphabet.
Some more historic stencil designs form IDEAL and DIAGRAPH-BRADLEY are in review and will coming to this place in the the medium-term future - Stay tuned!
| T & C., Paris (Thévenon et Cie), Rue de Montmorency 39, successor of
| M. Chevalier et Cie, Paris
In France, there was a major producer of stencils (vignettes a jour / pochoirs lettres).
T & C. Paris, formerly Chevalier et Cie, Paris, which was founded in 1828.
Stencil sets where the capital letter J has a hook at the bottom are probably not from T & C.
Perhaps from the predecessor company Chevalier or another company.
There is little information about them.
In a book about the Paris World's Fair of 1900, the following is reported about the company.
Source: Ministère du Commerce, de l’Inudstrie, Exposition Universelle Internationale de 1900 Paris, Groupe XV. Industries diverses
This company has been in existence since 1824 by Mr. Chevalier, whose successors and disciples are the Thévenon brothers.
Its main activity is the processing of metals for engraving, stamping and punching.
In order to perfect the operation of such a wide range of articles, the Thévenon brothers had to create a range of tools of all kinds to make it possible to mechanically produce and sell at a low price articles of daily use that had previously been too expensive to produce by hand.
The company also produced a range of letters for various purposes, as well as a complete range of label holders for in-store displays. As production increased, the company had to move some of its workshops to Vincennes. These workshops were powered by motors.
The current turnover is over 325,000 francs. The company employs approximately 65 people and processes over 25,000 kilograms of various metals into mostly lightweight products.
In addition to the bold Didot stencil designs that defined the style, stencils similar to the German DIN type were also produced, although much later.
For a historically accurate application, you can use the Didot stencils (serif design) for French props from about 1840 to the present. These stencils are used for all types of markings. From trash cans, signage, technical markings to advertising and art.
They were even used on US Army World War II vehicles (e.g. Jeeps) that landed in France and later had to rebadge their vehicles.
The gothic/grotesque designs date from around the 1940s or 1950s. However, they were rarely used.
France No. 1
France No. 3
France No. 5
| Brückmann Boysen & Weber, Schablonenfabrik, Elberfeld (Wuppertal), 1896
| Bonum Werkzeuge GmbH, Traunstein
| Carl Hoep, Sächsische Metall-Schablonenfabrik, Leipzig, 1886
| A. L. Levy, Graviersanstalt, Metallschablonenfabrik, Mannheim, ca. 1890
| E. Melchior, Metall-Schablonen-Fabrik und gravier-Anstalt, Hohenlimburg, Westfalen, ca 1900
| August Mentel, Metall-Schablonen-Fabrik, Berlin, 1860
| Johann Merkenthaler Metall-Schablonen-Fabrik, Nürnberg, 1870
| Ludwig Naescher, Schablonen-Fabrik, Hohenlimburg in Westfalen
| Rudolf Schmorl, Dresdner Metall-Schablonen-Fabrik, Dresden, 1902
| Albert Walther GmbH, Stempelfabrik, Dresden, 1888
There were many regional manufacturers due to the federal, small state structure of Germany.
Classic stencils for marking were often a temporary field of business.
Much more successful were stamps and light copper stencils for linen embroidery, which were produced in large numbers for the world until the First World War.
German stencils rarely have packaging that identifies the manufacturer. As a result, it is often difficult to identify stencils by region or manufacturer. One exception was August Mentel, Metallschablonen-Fabrik, Berlin, who produced stencil sets for marking (a classic serif design like the French stencils) for a very long time. and sold them in beautiful metal cases.
In the 1940s and after the World War II, the DIN standard typeface was quickly adopted for stencils. The classic serif design, such as the stencil types produced by A. Mentel, Berlin, began to fade.
For historically accurate German-related props, the classic German Serif stencil is a good choice.
It was used from 1870 to the 1930s.
It covers the German Imperial period, the First World War and the post-war period up to the beginning of the Third Reich.
After that, it slowly disappeared, but sometimes you can still find it today.
Since about the 1940s, the DIN standard typeface has been the preferred type for marking stencils. Since there was no standard for the technical implementation of the DIN standard typeface in stencils, each manufacturer had slightly different implementations, which could also vary depending on the size of the stencil tools.
Germany No. 1
A unicorn represents the design of the font "Vtg Stencil Germany no.101".
Neither the maker nor the exact date of its creation is known.
All we know is that it came from a woodworking shop in Bavaria, close to the border of Austria and Switzerland.
Germany No. 101
The most smoky stencil typeface in Germany today is based on the DIN standard typeface.
A simplified typeface specifically for stencils was DIN Schablonenschrift A (DIN Typeface A), introduced in 1943, but probably removed from the DIN standard before the 1980s. It was rarely used.
Vtg Stencil DIN
DIN Type A
Great Britain, UK
| Van Der Velde & Co., Newcastle upon Tyne, 1862
| Edward Pryor & Son, Sheffield, 1849
| *H. Cowley & Son, Stencil Cutters and Engravers, London
| *W. F. Stanley, London
* some kind of art letter stencils
The classic Roman design of a Bold Clarendon can also be found in the older British stencils.
They have much in common with their U.S. counterparts.
However, the serifs are much more pronounced.
The British stencil tools can also be found in Canada and Australia, probably taken there by emigrants.
On the other hand, S.G. Monce, Inc. was a U.S. manufacturer, who for a time exported stencils (with U.S. designs) to Great Britain.
So far, I don't have much information about British stencil makers, but the older British stencil plates have some typical designs. They were available in "Condesed and Bold styles", in "Block, Gill Sans and Roman" designs. For example, the indicated spur at the bottom of the letter G in the Gothic designs, or the (very common) detached shape of the tail on the letter Q. They were often sold in convenient wooden or metal boxes in which the stencils were arranged alphabetically and stored upright.
It is difficult for me to prove the correct historical attribution of the British stencils because I have too little documentation.
To be conservative, I think the classic Serif stencils were sold from about 1900 to the 1960s - probably earlier. The Gothic (sans serif) stencils from about the 1940s.
However, due to the economic ties between the U.S. and the U.K., products were sold in the U.K., particularly stencil cutting machines.
UK No. 2
UK No. 76
| utensili ALFA, BIELLA s.r.l., Carnago, 1920
| utensili ABC S.p.A., Cologno Monzese, 1913
The Italian stencils (stampi or stapini traforati) are roughly inspired by the classic French Serif stencils.
However, the stencils are drilled or etched, usually in aluminium.
This results in rough edges and notches, and somewhat clumsy looking lines.
Letterforms can vary from very narrow to normal width.
The stencils are mainly used in the marine environment. They are mostly sold in hardware stores that also sell boat and marine supplies.
I can't say much about Italian stencils in terms of their first appearance. The two Italian companies that produce these stencils have been established since the 1920s. They are still in production and are on sale today.
Italy No. 2
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