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Vtg Stencil France No. 1

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French Elegance

The Vtg Stencil fonts from astype are based on real stencils from various countries. In the case of French stencils the challenge was special, because of the varieties of different widths and weights between the stencil sets — so I made France No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5.

Classic French stenciled letter design was undoubtedly inspired by the bold Didone style that emerged in the early 19th century. Paris and London witnessed the development of these new, bold Didone type styles, which gained immense popularity and were adopted by skilled engravers and type foundries from 1830 onward. Most of the French stencils were made by T & C, Paris (Thévenon et Cie, successor of Chevalier et Cie) founded in 1824.

The most unique and eye-catching elements of typical French stencils are numbers 1, 2, 3, 7 and especially 5. The figure 5 changes in style on smaller stencil sizes, its bobble getting replaced by something like a “breve”. The letters J and Q can also differ in style. Lowercase sets are rare, but they have been produced and still exist. There are even more variations in very old stencil sets and on custom-made stencil signs.

In contrast to other countries, where local stencil lettering styles are vanishing, regions in France, such as Normandy and Brittany, still maintain and utilize these stencils today. Originally intended for technical lettering, these stencils are now also used for artistic or patriotic advertising and information signs in addition to their original purpose. This has something to do with the seductive graphic qualities of the design itself - the rich contrast in the straight forms, the feminine curves that attract our eyes today as they did then.

French stencil lettering was used by artists such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, who incorporated lettering into their Cubist paintings, and by the famous architect Le Corbusier. Over time, these stencil lettering became a globally recognised symbol of French design and taste.

Enjoy the grand dame of stencils — enjoy the vintage!


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