Bradley Stencil Machines

Bradley Stencil Cutters


The Long Bradley

The world's first stencil machine was patented in 1893. The first stencil machines for sale were probably built in 1894.

The machine looked like a long chain of letters on which a lever coupled to a carriage could slide along the chain. The characters were in a row from A to Z, followed by the numbers and some special characters. For economic reasons, the letters I and O were also used for the numbers 1 and 0. (All subsequent manual stencil machines, including competitors, maintained this economy measure.) The stencil paper was placed on a carriage, and the carriage, was used to slide to the character to be punched.

The machines were built for ½" and for ¾" typeface. The machines were later called the horizontal model or «Long Bradley».

The typeface was a medium-contrast slab serif design. It looked a bit like a typewriter typeface. Very often the typeface looked uneven in gray values. This was due to the different stem weights of some letters. The production of punches and dies for characters was new and expensive. Creating optically evenly weighted characters may have been difficult.

Circular Machines

For even larger letters, the machine would have had to become even longer, which would have been impractical and more expensive. So the characters were arranged on a circle. This new model was patented in 1898. The circular machines were more practical and less expensive. Nevertheless, the Long Bradley was built in parallel with the circular models until about the 1930s.

The Roman type was also used for most of the circular models.

Later, some models were offered in Gothic typface.

Long Bradley

1894 – ca. 1930s

½ and ¾" type size

Model A the ¾ inch and Model B the ½ inch version. Both of these machines cost $125 each in 1924.

  • weight: 150 punds

  1. image: Long Bradley Stencil Machine
  2. image: Long Bradley with Stand
  3. image: Long Bradley with Stand and Operator


Type specimen of the ¾ inch Bradley Roman stencil typeface. >>> To start editing, click the text line!

If you like this font, you can buy a license at astype fonts.


First Circular Stencil Machines

1894 Patent filled

1898 Patent granted

½ and ¾" type size

Probaly Model C for ¾ inch and Model D for ½ inch stencil typeface.

As you can easily see, the model is a derivation of the Long Bradley model.

  1. image: First Circular Machine, Illustration, 1894
  2. image: First Circular Machine ca.1900
  3. image: First Circular Machine with typeface specimen


2. Generation Circular Stencil Machines

ca. 1910 – 1922

½ and ¾" type size

Bradley stencil machine model E for ¾ inch (Roman type) and model F for ½ inch (Gothic type). The model E cuts 4 lines and the model F cuts 5 lines. The machines are upgraded with housing.

  1. image: Bradley Model E, photo, 1910
  2. image: Bradley Model E, Illustration, 1912
  3. image: Bradley Model E, Illustration, 1912


The Gigant Models

ca. 1915 – 1936

1¼ and 1½" type size

200 pounds

With the United States' entry into World War I looming, larger letters were needed - especially for the marking of overseas cargo. Bradley responded with the G and H models for 1½ and 1¼ inch letter sizes. The models were also known as the Bradley Gigant models. The model G features a Roman and the model H a Gothic typface.

In 1924 the model G cost $170 and model H $185.

  1. image: Bradley Model G or H


3. Generation Circular Stencil Machines

1922 – 1936

½ and ¾" type size

The third generation of Bradley circular stencil machines were introduced in 1922. The model J for ¾ inch (Roman type) and model K for ½ inch (Gothic type). The new models featuring a flat position (alphabet) disc and a changed position of the lever. Previews models used a casted metal ring to show the position.

These models cost $110 each in 1924.

  1. image: Bradley Model J, 1922
  2. image: Bradley Model J,
  3. image: Bradley Model K, late model with Diagraph label