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Draplin Design Co., North America


So a year ago or so when the family was out from Michigan for the DDC Get-Together, we went down to Oregon City to do a little junkin’. Evan was with us too, if I remember correctly. In a little antique store I came across an “Ideal No. 2” stencil machine from the Ideal Stencil Machine Co., Belleville, Ill.*. It was one of those moments where you look at the thing, then just sort of yell out to who’ever’ll hear, “This one is coming home with us. Wrap it up!” Something like that.

So I made the purchase and lugged the thing home. A stencil machine! Almost a hundred years old, the kind the old-timers would use to stencil the side of a fruit crate or something.

Turns out the thing is called a “Diagraph,” for it’s “marking and coding” qualities. The word “diagraph” is traditionally known as a “A drawing instrument, combining a protractor and scale,” so, hell, everything is up to snuff.

Okay, so, the machine I bought last May has been at the house. It’s the bookend to my record collection right now. It needs a good lube job and it’ll be ready for action. But, this last Friday morning, I’m on my way to work and stop off at Desks, Inc. to check out the inventory. Upstairs in the vintage section, kinda buried, was another one of these stencil machines.

I unearthed the sonofabitch, took a couple swings on it, and yelled for the proprietor, “Wrap it up!” The thing was well-oiled, with good action and a even came with hearty stack of old, oily stencil cards. Gross. Perfect.

Now we’ve got two of ‘em, “just in case one wears out.” Yeah, right.

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So, here’s a look at the thing. Couldn’t be happier:

01. “Ready for action.”
02. “The ‘Gary’s eye view’ of the thing.”
03. “The character dial.” 04. “Patented 1911, 1914, 1915.”
05. “A stern warning.”
06. “Fine details…”
07. “…all over the machine.”
08. “Keep machine clean and well-oiled.”
09. “Victory!”
10. “Spoils.”
11. “Always on call.”

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Contemporary diagraph supplies. We’ll be putting in an order for some of that stencil board real quick. Heck yes.

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Here’s a Bradley model, along the same lines, only that much more burly.

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*Another Belleville, Illinois treasure, long dead and gone: A three-piece rock outfit from the early ’90s.

There Are 43 Comments

Better kern that shit up….

We use the Oneshot Stenciling Foam Roller system here for stenciling tradeshow crates… works great.

Buy some blank truckers and a stencil and you have a custom hat for all occassions.

Posted by: styk on 04/29/08 at 3:26 PM

Now that is a little nugget of pure design gold. So retro it aches, I’d be proud to be putting out some promo material with that bad boy. Nice find.

Posted by: Ben Lewis on 04/29/08 at 5:15 PM

i would like to nominate myself as another belleville, illinois treasure.

Posted by: jen on 04/29/08 at 5:48 PM

That’s a damn fine piece of iron.

Posted by: Jason Duerr on 04/30/08 at 7:49 AM

I’m very jealous now not only do you own one but you have two of these nice babies. I own a newer model of Ideal stencil machine that make 1” letters. but nothing beats the No2 in looks.

can you make me a life sized cardboard cutout please? :)

Posted by: Ugo on 05/05/08 at 6:48 PM

Nice, I have AN Ideal 1” stencil machine all is perfect except the small gear which is driven by the large outer gear is missing…no one knows where to get one or the specification. can you help locate one or trace the one on your machine?

It’s a heavy piece of old iron that I’d love to get running…thanks

Posted by: mike k on 05/26/08 at 4:41 PM

i dogpiled a stencil machine, your site came up, i have in my basement a no 2 ideal stencil machine, are you interested in it?

Posted by: kym on 06/26/08 at 6:17 AM

Can an admin, please refer my email address to kym? I’m very interrested in that machine.



Posted by: Ugo on 07/10/08 at 11:52 AM

I am delighted to see your # 2 picture…we have recently found a # 3, which looks identical…and we haven’t been able to get any info. on the age etc of the machine…please let me know what you know as in date, value etc…
We are the HABITAT for Humanity Re-Store in Vancouver, Canada…hope to hear from you

Posted by: yana on 07/31/08 at 11:06 AM

I think the Ideal Stencil machines is a wonderful marvel of technology. It works like an old Swiss antique clock of the good old days.

Kashyap Ray
++ 91 98300 48688 (cell)

Posted by: Kashyap Ray on 10/08/08 at 5:19 AM

I have a #1, it works great,has somegold leaf designs. was used at factory that made bombs and shells during WWII, looking for offers

Posted by: demj142@comcast.net on 10/14/08 at 5:24 PM

I have a IDEAL #2 i would like to sell! Please reply

Posted by: scott kelley on 10/31/08 at 9:59 AM

i have a # 2 ideal stenciling machine that i would love to sell if interested contact me via email

Posted by: qA canleyal on 11/03/08 at 5:28 PM

I have a ideal no.2 in great condition i make stencils out of cardboard . need to sell if anybody is interested

Posted by: skelley on 11/21/08 at 1:00 AM

I found one of thise machines in a old storage building at work they told me to throw it out but i just couldnt bring my self to, so its in the back of my truck til i find something to do with it, is there any where else to find out more information on them, my serial number on this one is 14164

Posted by: Aaron on 04/18/09 at 3:55 PM

I have this identical Ideal No.2 Diagraph stencil machine. The number on the plate in the front is 1083. My husband used it in his business many years ago lettering boxes for shipping. I also have a stack of the cardboard inserts for making the stencils. I would consider selling if anyone is seriously intersted. I’ll take detailed pictures and send them upon request. I live in Massachusetts and would prefer a local sale as it’s extreemly heavy!

Posted by: Gail on 05/18/09 at 6:11 PM

I have an Ideal number 2 for sale. It is located in meridian Mississippi. anyone inteested? Thanks, Ken

Posted by: Ken on 09/23/09 at 12:00 PM

I also have a diagraph no. 2 that I am trying to sell. I have no idea the value. Can anyone help me out?

Posted by: Carrie on 11/20/09 at 9:40 AM

I also have a diagraph no. 2 that I am trying to sell. I have no idea the value. Can anyone help me out?

Posted by: Carrie on 11/20/09 at 9:40 AM

I would like some opinions on how much my No. 1 would be worth. It is in excellent condition with no broken parts. We still use it in our business.

Posted by: Dick on 06/28/10 at 11:19 AM

I have one of those things mine is a #3

Posted by: Darsie on 10/20/10 at 2:47 PM

If anyone is realy serious about Ideal stencil cutters, I have Model NUMBER ONE, the SERIAL NUMBER IS 0059.
It works like new and and spins freely from die to die.

Posted by: Vincent Lowers on 01/03/11 at 7:26 PM

Its a very good work with that stencil machine.Hello, my name is Vitor Novais, I`m from Portugal, in Algarve.
I work at the local Museum, in conservation and restoring old machines, some of them with 100 years or more.W e have two of those machines Ideal No.1, and im getting start to desmont one of them. I would like to get some help, if there is some tecnical book of them, because these one have a broken crank ( I think is these the name ).

Posted by: Vitor Hugo Lino Novais on 01/31/11 at 7:23 AM

I have a Ideal #1. The number stamped in it is 4754. It it is in good shape and works. I need help on what it is worth. I need to sell it. Thanks. If anyboby is interested I am in Scranton, PA

Posted by: Tim on 02/16/11 at 7:10 AM

I have an Ideal quarter inch stencil machine I would like to sell, It is in perfect condition. Anyone interested. Please contact me by e mail. Thanks.

Posted by: mike sessa on 08/03/11 at 6:32 AM

I have a #1 machine and it is in great shape and works well I use filling paperand it works great and I have made stencils and spray painted signs with it and works great I would like to know what it is worth and if anyone is interested in buying it, im in Melbourne Florida, if anyone is interested in it,.or has info of what it is worth,.

Posted by: Joseph Alton on 11/07/11 at 8:14 PM

i just picked up an ideal model #3. not sure what type of value to put on it. any info would be great on this cutter. it is in great shape.

Posted by: JEREMY-MICHIGAN on 01/30/12 at 6:54 PM

Share and share some more. Great stuff….

Posted by: rainbow riches double pots on 04/06/12 at 5:52 AM

If anyone wants to learn more about the stencil machine industry, the museum in Belleville, IL is the place to go. Check laborandindustrymuseum.org for details. I used to build pattern tooling for Ideal, Marsh and Diagraph Bradley back inn the 1960’s & 1970’s.

Posted by: Jack Wittlich on 07/03/12 at 10:49 AM

I own an Ideal Stenciling Machine No.1, patented in 1911 and I am looking to sell it, and idea what they go for?

Posted by: Vern on 12/19/12 at 11:01 AM

i have in my possion a stencil machine ideal no 2 serie 3542 wat age can have this machine and wat pricewoucansell a antiquite so i hopeto havean enswer fromyou tank you to advence request is in perfect condition apologize for my english becose i am from québec and i do not speck much inglish

Posted by: GILLES BÉDARD on 01/26/13 at 1:41 PM

Am in need of the turntable gear for an Ideal No. 2. the part number is 2-76. Would anyone have one or know of a source?

Posted by: Peter Lahmann on 02/16/13 at 10:04 PM

An old friend of mine has a collection of diagraphs. They’re still doing good “stencil” even though they’re old school. Ed of CustomCutStencilCo.com

Posted by: Edilberto Durano on 03/07/13 at 4:14 AM

Do you plan to sell this vintage thing? Give me a ring if the idea interest you.
Ed of CustomCutStencilCo.com

Posted by: Edilberto Durano on 04/01/13 at 8:17 PM

Do you want to sell this stencil machine, man? If you are going to, then how much? I’m into antique stuff you know.
Ed of CustomCutStencilCo.com

Posted by: Edilberto Durano on 04/29/13 at 4:26 PM

i have one of these in good shape,any idea what i can get for it.

Posted by: gary on 05/28/13 at 6:01 PM

You wouldn’t believe it, in country Australia . I was helping someone move house. As a kind gesture for me helping , he gave me one these amazing stencil machines,. It’s seized but the otherwise in very good order . serial number 1009. i was Just wondering the value of this wonderful piece of engineering. AND IF ANYONE HAD INFO FOR THIS MACHINE, oh by the way our machine has N0. 1 on THE FRONT but very identicle to the picture,

Posted by: TONY on 06/30/13 at 8:46 PM

I just encountered a No. 2 machine at our factory in Standish, Michigan. I also made my way here from Belleville, Illinois.

Posted by: John Corcoran on 03/28/14 at 2:28 PM

Aaron… Long time no posty for me. My boss just surprised me with this machine today, needs some stencils made. So I search for the model on the google, and voila! I find the DDC tech support page! :) Have a good one, man.

Posted by: Matt Fetterley on 07/10/14 at 11:43 AM

Have the Ideal #1 but am in need of the control wheel behind the face plate. and the pointer. Does anyone have the dimensions. Had a Bradley but was to big. Now this one is smaller but oh so heavy. Yes it said I need to play with this .

Posted by: Bonnie on 03/10/15 at 12:06 PM

A friend just got one of these into her vintage store. What is it? everyone wants to know. By web-searching the manufacturer’s name I found this page. THANKS for all the information and comments. Definitely a wonderful “find” for her store full of on-of-a-kind items.

Posted by: Dottie on 09/04/15 at 4:13 AM

Just to let you know I have just bought my second Marsh R1, within 3 weeks of buying the first. ” just in case one wears out ” Though I live in the south of the Netherlands, I bought them in Hengelo and Enschede, two neighbouring cities in the east of the country. All the best, Alex

Ps = Email address is not mine

Posted by: Alex on 07/11/16 at 5:10 AM

I recently saved a ldeal#1 from the dump.the thing seems to work fine but the feeder rail is bent, and is missing the center gear that the letter indicator rests on. Any ideas where I might find parts, thanks

Posted by: Robert mcintire on 07/22/16 at 5:54 AM
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