Friday, July 17, 2009

Forgotten Art Supplies : Nostalgia (or not!)

Thanks to some informative tweets from Graham McArthur about content on, I recently found the "The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies".

It made me smile to see rapidographs, elipsographs, Letraset, film erasers, stencils and scribes... I trained as a Cartographer, and was amongst the last to be taught traditional drafting in addition to CAD. Also, my mother used to work as a Geological Draughtsperson, so between us, we own about three-quarters of the supplies shown in the above-mentioned Museum.

The thing is though, I still *use* about half of those supplies today. I have a deep love and appreciation for them! After all, I was a child who was given sheets of Letratone and a burnisher/stylus to play with, not scrap paper and crayons. I didn't use pencils to colour illustrations or diagrams for my school assignments; I used self-adhesive Pantone Letrafilm in a rainbow of PMS colours.

Last year I wanted a new set of French Curves and some small triangles. I looked high and low for a set of decent quality cut and weighted plastic curves, but all I readily found were cheap and poorly finished sets with seams - they were almost disposable! (For someone who always buys the best hand-tools she can afford, and who considers an all-brass rolling parallel ruler as one of her most treasured possessions, this experience was a tiny bit heartbreaking.)

Quality over quantity... those were the days. ;)


  1. Nooo! Rapidographs are not forgotten art supplies! All the cool kids still use them, right?

    Frankly, I am unsure as to whether I was pleased or distressed by the collection of "Forgotten Art Supplies"... particularly in relation to how many of those things are in my actively-used collection. I'll go with pleased, since these items are still on people's minds and are not really forgotten... yet.

  2. actually, if you are still looking for your french curves etc, we have a local drafting/art supplies store that still seems to stock half the stuff in the museum...

    next time I'm in I'll look to see if they still have some "quality" ones in stock or have had to move over to cheap "disposable"

    tim a

  3. I'll have to make a few contributions to that Museum myself... I have a 1986 Letraset catalogue here which has some fabulous old stuff in it!

    (Thanks - I did find some french curves in the end... :)

  4. Wow! Thanks for that link. Inside the cobweb covered bottom drawers of my desk some of those tools still exist. I started as a draftsman pre-CAD and although many of the old tools never get used they are too familiar to get rid of. Now I'm thinking that for some of them, like the old Leroy Lettering Set a shadow box on the office wall will have the younger members of the staff asking "What's that?"

  5. I sent my mother the link to this post, and so we were discussing her Leroy set just the other day! I loved that thing!

    When I go home for Christmas, I'm definitely going to bring a heap of these 'forgotten' supplies back with me. ;)