E-stenciller

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Fannish abbreviation for an electronic stencil cutter, also called an electrostenciller, a machine for cutting special plastic mimeo stencils which enabled the user to print illustrations with heavy dark areas or even photographs. Brand names included Gestetner’s Gestefax and Stenofax.

The illustrations (or screened photos) and the e-stencil are placed side by side on the "drum" of the device. When turned on, the drum would turn; a photoelectric scanner would move from left to right, slowly scanning the illustration/photo, and every time it "saw" a black area the stylus cut the corresponding spot on the stencil.

When fans first started using e-stencillers, they would usually pack as many illustrations/photos as they could on a white legal-sized surface, which they would have made by a professional service; they would then cut the stencil into as many parts as there were illustrations/photos, and use stencil cement to put them in the proper place on a typed wax stencil on which corresponding space had been cut away. The cost of a single e-stencil ranged from $5 to $10 when a commercial service was used. Over the years, some fans bought their own machine and special stencils, and when the per-stencil cost dropped to around $1-$2, many of them simply e-stenciled entire pages of type and illustrations together.


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