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Palm & Fechteler Transfer Ornaments Part 1

Hand Lettering topics: Sign Making, Design, Fabrication, Letterheads, Sign Books.

Moderators: Ron Percell, Mike Jackson, Danny Baronian

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Site Man
Posts: 573
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2005 1:03 am
Location: Marlborough, MA

Palm & Fechteler Transfer Ornaments Part 1

Post by Site Man »


Posted by Mike Jackson on February 29, 2004

Here's an interesting book/catalog I added to the collection a few weeks ago. I can't find the date in the catalog, but the bookseller stated it was from 1883. From all I can tell, this company later changed names to just the Palm Letter Company. They created transfer decals, based on the pencil drawings inside.

The Palm book Danny Baronian purchased from the Glawson estate is different than this one, and different again from another Palm Transfer I recently purchased dated 1901. I'll show it in a few minutes in a second post.


So was this the first "Clip Art"?
How did they apply it? , was it "traced over"?
and then painted, similar to a pounce pattern. Bob
Mike Jackson


Hi Bob,
These were transfer decals, printed or painted on gum decal paper, very similar to the little markings we did on our model airplanes when we were younger. You would soak the decal and carrier in warm water and wait until it softened and then slide the decal to the object or panel.

The image above is a package I bought off eBay one day just to show.

I guess you might call them clip art, but they were a one time use element, so I don't think it really qualifies as clip art.

Bob, who are you? We like to have full names here when we can and email addresses in the email box. No one will ask you to stop posting...just curious of all the Bobs in the world, which one you are? Bob Mitchell, Bob Harper, Bob Behounek, etc?

Take care,
Mike Jackson


Robare M. Novou
Well Mike...heres your next assignment...making a Palm,Fechteler & Co. page on this wonderful letterhead site. By the way, Nice Find!

I have 4 of these catalogs..1 is an original, the other three are xerox copies...and no, not one has those wonderful letter color plates. Your cover is similar to, but not exact, to the beat up cover and contents I was able to xerox, It has about 100 pages.

The signbook search guide lists about 10 different editions of these catalogs.

Lets see if this info I have is correct...

Palm Bros. & Co. started out in Nuremberg,Bavaria.
with branch offices in Paris, London, Vienna, and
Cincinati(of all places).

When Fechteler joined them they expanded locations into New York and Chicago.

So if you have something with just Palm Bros. on it. It is older than a catalog with Palm and Fechteler on it. From what I can see with my material and other listings this is true.

I do remember seeing an article in one of the sign trade magazines, could of been signs of the times, a few years ago. Explaining some of the history and showing some of those colored letter
samples. Does anyone remember that? I cant recall exactly which issue or publication.

If I get the chance to scan some of this I will pass it on to you for uploading.

Don Coplen
I have some authentic Palm Brothers transfers at home. I'll scan and post a jpg here tonight if I can remember where I put that box.
Don Coplen - Scan of actual transfers
(Sorry- scan image not available - Site Man)

Here's the scan I promised. You would order a sheet of these and cut them off as you used them. Rick told me these were circa 188?.

I lived the Palm's Ornaments for months and have literally seen them in my dreams. It was a real treat when Rick asked me if I'd like some bookmarks and handed these to me.
Mike Jackson

(Sorry, Image not available - Site Man)
The smaller catalog above has a date printed on the front...1901 so you can pin that date down. From there, however, I can only rely on the bookseller's date of 1883 on the bigger one. The bigger book has an ad in the back for Sherwin Williams Coach Colors.

A quick search on the net turned up this:
"Sherwin Williams is a global producer of paints and coatings with a rich history of innovation. Since its founding by Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams in 1866, the company has taken the lead in service and product advances. From developing dry chemical pigments, brushable lacquers and synthetic enamels, to being the first paint company to offer an emulsified finish, Sherwin-Williams has continually pushed the envelope of coatings technology."

So, the company was in operation long before the suggested date of this catalog of 1883. No clue there! I have quite a few Carriage and Coach painting books that date back to the 1860s through 1880s and the ads and products seem to fall into line with the ads I see in back of this book.

The smaller book states they patented the Palm's Transfer Letters in March of 1882 if that helps. It also states the factories were in Nuremberg-Bavaria and also in Cincinnati, Ohio with additional branc offices in Paris, Vienna and London.

Personally, I don't think the larger book came afterwards, just based on the advertisements in the back of the catalog. There is absolutely no mention of any sort of motorized vehicle products.

Then finally, I did some searches and found the reprinted book linked below. According to that description, I believe it is pretty well nailed down that Fechteler was part of the Palm company in 1882. You can buy the Dover reprint from Barnes and Noble and many other places for $5.95!

Based on the date of the 1901 Palm catalog and the quite well documented 1882 Palm and Fechteler book, it looks to me like Fechteler left the company instead of joining it. As always, I can be wrong! :)


Dover reprint of the 1882 Book available

Robare M. Novou
Hmmmm, I also have a "small" oblong catalog such as the one you show, except my cover isnt as fancy as yours. it has 24 pages. and a punched hole in the upper left corner with a string through it, so that it could be hung by a nail.
I'll have to scan it and send it along so that you can post it.

Mine has a date of 1899 on the front cover and it also states "the palm letter co." But it does not list the chicago or new york locations such as your 1901 does. Mine only lists those foreign locations and the cincinati office.

So "The Palm Letter Co." had no offices in Chicago or New York in 1899...But did in 1901.

And according to our two "small oblong catalogs"
there is no mention of "Fechteler"

In the 1870's it was "Charles Palm and Co."
In the 1880's it was "Palm, Fechteler & Co."
1n the 1890's it was "The Palm Letter Co."

I seem to remember reading somewhere about this swing in company names....and the reasons for it.

And heres another tidbit...The Palm Letter Co. had a display at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.
I'll look that one up tommorrow.

Proably right next to rawson and evans! ;)

Keep up the good work Detective!

Mike Jackson - More History
Robare and the rest,
This larger 1882 catalog states:
"To contradict the false representations made by certain parties, we state the Mr. Chas. Palm, the originator of Transfer Carriage Ornaments, is connected with our firm ONLY, and still furnishes most of the designs.
The parties alluded to, not only take advantage of similarity of name, but copy as near as possible our designs, catalogues, and even our advertisements, as can be seen in the Carriage Journals. Thus they try to mislead the public, and venture to impose upon it their inferior imitations."

At the bottom of the page, it lists New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago.

I don't know who the other company this refers to, but the name must be similar and the designs must also be similar.

And, just for reference, my oblong smaller book also has the hole in the upper left corner and a string. It also mentions getting a gold medal at the Chicago World's Fair. It is dated 1901.

I don't recall seeing the article you mentioned. Maybe Tod Swormstedt will know the issue.

Ken Soderbeck
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:26 am

Re: Palm & Fechteler Transfer Ornaments Part 1

Post by Ken Soderbeck »

I have been reproducing some Palm Bros transfers used on fire apparatus for a number of years. The Museum in Cincinnati , OH has the archives of Palm Bros. company. It is a vast collection of real, color samples of the transfers. It is hard to get access to it.
Anthony Bennett
Posts: 352
Joined: Tue May 11, 2010 4:50 am
Location: England

Re: Palm & Fechteler Transfer Ornaments Part 1

Post by Anthony Bennett »

Ken Soderbeck wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:47 am I have been reproducing some Palm Bros transfers used on fire apparatus for a number of years. The Museum in Cincinnati , OH has the archives of Palm Bros. company. It is a vast collection of real, color samples of the transfers. It is hard to get access to it.
How have you gone about it please Ken?

Modern prining methods like the gerber foil printer or something else?
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