Billographe 5

My father was a joiner. When he used to make plans for customers he always used to label them with this stencil. I think this stencil is one of the earliest things I remember from his workshop. He used it until he retired, when he was in his seventies.

A few years ago I decided to take it with me to the UK. At that time it was still in perfect shape. I kept it in a plastic bag for a few years and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I took it out of the bag recently. The stencil was completely deformed and the surface was very oily. I assume something from the plastic bag somehow interacted with the plastic form the stencil.

What a shame. I put some heavy books on, in the hope that it will help get the stencil at least a little bit back into shape, but I am not too confident that this will work.

The label reads BILLOGRAPHE №4 (bille fine) MINERVA FRANCE

It looks as if these are still being made, at least in some sizes, but they seem to be extremely difficult to get hold of outside France1.


  1. In Germany Standardgraph, which you might know because of their DUX sharpeners, is selling similarly coloured stencils – not only letters, also stencils to make plans of rooms, etc. []

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5 thoughts on “Billographe

  • Matt

    I came across this brand when I was young, I thought it disappeared…but if you want, I could have a look when I’ll go to France, in a few months.
    I remember blue Minerva products, not yellow/orange like this one though!

  • Matthias

    Thank you for your comment and your kind offer.
    I think I’m disappointed that this Billographe is now deformed because I left it in a plastic bag too long.
    I probably wouldn’t use a stencil like this very often, so don’t want to create extra work for you, but thank you for your kind offer.

  • Julie Paradise

    Uh, what an unpleasant surprise, even more so as it is a piece from your father.

    I have some of these stencils from Rotring in different widths (for 0.3 / 0.5 / 0.7 mm mechanical pencils or drafting pens), meant to be used with the Isograph/Rapidograph, one could probably find these on eBay.

  • Gunther

    What a pity! Has it been stored in a PVC sleeve? If yes It could be possible that the softener from the sleeve has interacted with the stencil.

  • Matthias Post author

    Thank you fort your comments.

    Julie, I think I’ve seen the ones you talking about in an art supply store near my place of work. They closed down though. If I remember right Rapidograph owner can be quite expensive and there seem to be a few collectors out there.

    It hasn’t been stored in a sleeve, but maybe the plastic bag used softeners as described by you. The surface of the stencil was very oily.