The Catacombs Catacombs Model Gallery

Various labels were quickly made from Letraset rub-down lettering. Letraset was founded in the UK in 1959, and their dry-transfer lettering, invented in 1961, became a world-wide standard for commercial artists. Letraset also designed many popular fonts. They even produced transfers for children from 1964, named "Action Transfers" from 1969; two Space: 1999 sets were produced in 1975.

A 1970s Letraset "Instant Lettering" sheet, for 36pt Grotesque 216, created by Monotype. The sheet number (204) and USA Order No (41-36-CLN) are top right. As well as using the letters to create Moonbase labels, the Space 1999 set designers used the sheet numbers and USA order numbers, as well as some of the font names. The word "Spacematic" is often seen on labels, suggesting something suitably futuristic. The "Spacematic" word actually refers to the Letraset system of marks to indicate letter spacing.

The Mark Of Archanon

Top right on this Medical panel is the number "206" and the number below "41-18-CLN". This is the sheet number and USA Order number for 18pt Grotesque 216.

The Troubled Spirit

This custom label "Blood Transfusion Treatment And Recycle Unit Mk.11.CK.ES" is made with the "Countdown" font- and the name of the font is helpfully written alongside it, with the Letraset ordering number (112-24-CLN, written twice). And bottom right is the name of another font, 24pt DATA 70, which isn't actually on this label at all.

The Bringers Of Wonder part 1

The label here helpfully includes the font name of the title text (24 point Countdown) and the body text (Univers).

Missing Link

In Missing Link we see a comlock. The "C 83-102" is another Letraset order number. Below the text contains the words "Registered Trade Mark. Letraset Products are prote". This is the Letraset copyright notice from the bottom of the sheets. To make it less obvious, the copyright text is often scratched to obscure it. See commlock prop photos.

Letraset lettering was available in sheets or as 16mm wide tapes. Custom sheets could be ordered if required. Keith Wilson's design department must have ordered dozens of custom sheets, as the same patterns are repeated again and again on different props. Sometimes there wasn't a lot of custom design- the letter tables from Letraset catalogues were reproduced exactly (see, for instance, the All That Glisters radiation instrument). Even the Letraset copyright notice was added onto Alpha labels.

In addition to letters, Letraset also produced rub-down lines to make borders and rule-lines. This "Letraline" came in different thicknesses, colours and patterns. In addition to props, Letraline was widely used on SFX models. Letraset also made colour film - "Letrafilm" - for solid blocks of colour. Red, yellow or green transparent Letrafilm would be cut into rectangles, often with a Letraline border, and the lettering written over it to create a typical Moonbase Alpha label.

Letraset catalogue

A Letraset catalogue, showing the fonts in tables. These tables of letters were produced exactly in some of the labels- even down to the order codes under each letter ("A" in Grotesque 216 has the code "T1"). Certain common works used in industrial designs are included in the table- "Assy" (assembly), "Issue", "" (pattern number), "Serial no.".

Another label. This is the Grotesque 216 font table as seen in the catalogue, in white text (as used on the red background shown in the screen shot below).

The "ES21" label is seen in many places - here on a computer panel. It's also on a medical panel, Command Center desks, a microscope, a radiation unit, and cases. (Photo thanks to Simon and David).

The Seance Spectre The Seance Spectre

The names of the main fonts used can still be read on some of the labels.

Countdown Data 70

The names of the type foundries are also included on labels, including Bauer (founded in 1837 in Germany) and Deberny and Peignot (Deberny et Peignot, founded in 1923 in France). Some of the numbers in labels are font sizes: 12pt and 14pt are point sizes. 1pt is 0.35mm. Another word seen is "U.S.A. pica", a size of 12 points (4.22mm; the size differs from the French pica).

See also: signage

The Letraset sheet "47-14-CLN" is 12pt Helvetica Medium.

Space Warp

This screen in Space Warp has "Electronic Bolt" and "Alpha Medical" signs, seen below.

Thanks to James Winch, David Hirsch, Simon Rhodes
Page copyright Martin Willey