Stencils - Lundy Truth

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Hi there,

I was glancing over your website and found it very interesting.

What took my eye was the HN6315 page, in particular the stencilled Postal Address label on the envelope sent to the Police Station.
My career from 1984-2000 was that in Survey Draughting. In the mid 1980s until 1990 I worked at Lands and Survey, followed by working in a Mapping division at a Council. From 1984 until the early nineties my job was to draught survey plans, which often involved using stencils.

The very font that has been used on that letter label I can almost be certain it was done by the one of the following Rotring stencils 2.5mm, 3.5mm, 5mm and 7mm:

The 4 Rotring stencils are:

Art 342 025 (2.5mm lettering that was used in conjunction with a Rotring Rapidograph .25 nib)
Art 342 035 (3.5mm lettering that was used in conjunction with a Rotring Rapidograph .35 nib)
Art 342 050 (5mm lettering that was used in conjunction with a Rotring Rapidograph .50 nib)
Art 342 070 (7mm lettering that was used in conjunction with a Rotring Rapidograph .70 nib)

All the above stencils have an ISO number of 3098/I Bv, DIN 6776
I am not sure what scale that address label is, however it looks like the 5mm stencil was used, if scale is correct.

The reason for the uneven lettering was usually caused by any of the following reasons:

1. The person stencilling the label was not very competent at using stencils or had an unsteady hand

2. The Rotring ink pen has not been used at the correct angle to produce an even distribution of ink to create the letters.

3. Stencils often became clogged with dried ink as pens leaked. The start of letters would always have dried ink in their corners and if you didn’t wash your stencil often enough, uneven lettering would occur.

4. To use a stencil properly you had to run the stencil along a heavy stencil bar, this bar was held by the outer palm on the opposite hand that you wrote with. This label looks like a bar or heavy ruler was used to run the stencil along to keep the lettering straight.

5. The ink pen used looks like the nib needed cleaning, or the nib was blocked not allowing the correct amount of ink to dispense, or the ink pen was short on ink in the cartridge, or if the letters were written in an area with a high temperature the ink would always drip from the nib. The Rotring pens never worked very well in humid or hot conditions.

6. Inside each of the Rotring ink pens a very small piece of wire forms part of the nib (like a thin fuse wire). If the nib is worn, old or the small wire becomes bent, as it often became back in those days as you became frustrated clearing blockages, you would end up with the scratchy sort of lettering you see on the label.
I worked in Auckland and using stencils was very common by all those in the Survey Draughting field, either working at Lands and Survey, a Council or draughting for a private surveyor. I imagine the rest of the Lands and Survey Depts around the country also used the same stencils as we all had to adhere to the same standards when producing survey plans.

I can only hazard a guess that other draughting occupations also used the same stencil font as it was a very common font to use. So, engineers, architects, technical occupations (rather than artists) more than likely would have also have used this sort of stencil during the 80s and 90s (before most occupations were latterly computerised eg AutoCad).

I still have in my possession all the items mentioned above: stencil bar, set of 4 stencils – 2.5mm, 3.5mm, 5mm, 7mm, Rotring pens, Rotring ink cartridges, and spare Rotring nibs if anyone is interested. The 5mm stencil even has dried and clogged ink in the most frequently used letters.
One other odd thing I have also noticed is that the three C letters in the words Central and Church have been done with the same stencil used to create the numbers 6315. The Cs do not match the Rotring ISO 3098/I stencil.

Two reasons for this could be:

1. The capital letter C was almost completely clogged with ink and therefore unable to be used

2. The small piece of plastic between the letters C and D may have been broken out (often happened with rough, regular stencil use)

I note no letter Ds have been used. Is the address correct or there is another more correct address that would have required the use of a D? There is no street number mentioned for Church St.

Re the HN6315 number.

I could almost be certain 2 different stencils have been used. The H and N appear to have been done by the Rotring 3098/I stencils mentioned above. I can overlay my stencils on the image and they fit perfectly. The stencil used to create the numbers 6315 is the same used for the Cs in Central and Church.

The unusual appearance of the N has occurred by the person using the ink pen not being very competent at stencilling. To create an N on the stencil you have to shift the weight and direction of the pen from one edge of the letter to the other. If your pen remains on the upper side of the stencil when you arrive at the lower sharp intersection your pen would tend to become wayward and not become back on track until the nib would touch the lower side the N letter. I often saw Ns being done like this.

As for the numbers 6315, they are definitely another font created by a separate stencil. I do recall seeing this as a stencil but cannot recall its name. It’s not one I ever used. When I overlay the Rotring 3098/I stencil on those numbers, they do not match.

Perhaps employees at Govt/Council departments back in those days did records with different fonts. Some records I saw over time had clearly been stamped with a different stamp to make it clear which Council Ward it belonged to (perhaps the HN), then a subsequent record number was added (sometimes by another person) as the document was received in the correct department (6315). Maybe whoever did the address label stencilling was used to this system of using two different stencils.

Hope some of this helps.

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