According to Reese's New Patent Adjustable Stencil Letters, official credit for the first "settable-unit stencils" goes to Edwin Allen, who filed his U.S. patent in 1840. Samuel Widdows Reese was a veteran of the American Civil War, who settled in Chicago after the conflict. His first stencil patent was filed in 1873,
and then a second patent was applied for three years later for stencils with an S-fold on one edge to lock the stencils together. In that same year, 1876, he opened his firm, S.W. Reese & Company, in Chicago. Reese left the Chicago company under the management of his partner, Christian Hanson, and established a second business, Reese & Company, in Manhattan.
|Popular Gardening, 1887|
|The New Wonder Book Cyclopedia of World Knowledge. Philadelphia & Toronto: International Press, 1954.|
The Chicago company became C.H. Hanson in 1866, and remains today a family-owned concern. They still manufacture interlocking brass stencils, but no longer under the Reese name. In 2013 they acquired the Palmgren Tool Business, a famous maker of rotary tables and drill-press vices.
|Popular Science, October 1948|
|Popular Mechanics, February 1951|