Meet the Characters: Pantograph Stencils

It’s no secret that Past and Present Home Gallery has hosted some very interesting antiques and rare finds over the years. Everything from jail doors to giant, cast aluminum pigs have been in our show room. You can browse for hours in the Man Cave and discover all sorts of odd and unique treasures, not to mention the prettier treasures you can find in the Diva Den. Everything has a story and we’ll be the first to admit that finding a vintage item with an interesting story grabs our attention like a child picking up a shiny penny. But what if the history behind a rare find is supposed to be secret?

The Secret of the Symbols: A Vintage, Pantograph Stencil Set

Earlier this year we discovered something truly unique. We knew it was for printing and we knew it was interesting, but that was about it. After several hours of researching and re-researching, we unearthed part of a story: this little wooden chest with its numerous pull-out trays was actually a pantograph stencil set.

The pantograph stencil method of reproducing an image or document can be traced all the way back to a man named Christopher Schiener in 1603. It is a simple method that uses a compass-like contraption with one needle and one pen. The needle traces the lines of a stencil while the pen traces the same image onto a piece of paper in a smaller or larger scale. This type of reproduction was used throughout numerous crafts and trades including sculpture and creating currency as well as the creation of official documents.

  By AlphaZeta - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16115008

By AlphaZeta - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16115008

The pantograph stencil set at Past and Present Home Gallery was probably used for the creation of certificates and includes one rather unique stencil that depicts the compass symbol used by the Free Masons and the three links symbol used by the Odd Fellows. As odd as that may seem at first, the more research we did into the simultaneous use of the symbols, the more we learned that it is common that both Fraternities appear together. The Free Masons and Odd Fellows are founded on complimenting values and principles which often led to members of a community being a part of both organizations. This gave way to the paring of symbols and, in some communities, even the sharing of lodges and halls.

While we may never learn which lodge or hall this specific stencil set was used in, if it was used officially or for an individual, or even exactly how old it is; we are glad to have shed some light on its rich history.

Come in to Past and Present Home Gallery and discover this, and many more unique treasures throughout our store. Also going on now is our bedroom furniture sale. We have a large selection of vanities, chests of drawers, and dressers on sale—some up to 35% off! Can’t wait to see you at Past and Present Home Gallery, the antique store with character!