Annette O'Sullivan is piecing together the story of why the stencil became a shipping mark for bales of wool.
A senior lecturer of typography at Massey University in Wellington, Annette's PhD research explores the use and significance of the New Zealand wool bale stencil from colonial times to the present day.
Stenciling was widely practiced for more than 100 years. It was a requirement of all colonies exporting wool to London to stencil the name of the sheep station and details of the wool onto the fabric of the bale in order to trace its origin and identify the contents for sale.
"Some of the stencils have varieties of breaks and letterforms, mixtures of italics, sans serifs and serifs and that's what makes them unique,' Annette says.
The stenciled station brand not only represented the station internationally, it was New Zealand's first export brand.
Stenciling on wool bales was discontinued towards the end of the last century with the introduction of new materials and processes, but today echoes of wool bale branding can still be seen in the marketing and branding of other New Zealand products.