The stencils were salvaged by a family member from the original boat building plant in Algonac, Michigan, where they had been used for decades until the plant was closed in the early 1970s . As such, the collection of five is a very unusual relic of the original Chris-Craft company, and would look handsome displayed on a wall as signs, particularly with their graphic lettering and natural maritime wear.
The Chris-Craft Corporation is one of the most celebrated American makers of recreational power boats. It has its origins in an Algonac, Michigan, boat building business founded by brothers Christopher “Chris” Columbus Smith (1861-1939) and Hank Smith in 1881. With the advent of gasoline engines, Smith fitted one to a rowboat and eventually began producing the recreational powerboats. Formally established as Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company in 1922, by the end of the 1920s it was the world’s largest builder of mahogany constructed power boats. During World War II, Chris-Craft built some 12,000 vessels for the United States Navy and Army. After the war, it returned to producing recreational boats, and gradually transitioned from mahogany to fiberglass in all its boat models. In 1969, the Engine Division of the company was relocated to Ohio, and the production plant at Algonac was closed in 1970. Although the Parts Division remained there for a short period, by 1972 the Algonac facility was completely closed. In 1980, the company was sold outside the family and continues to operate today. Meanwhile, the original plant is now the Algonac Harbour Club, a marina.
Condition: Generally very good for utilitarian objects. Various bending, crimps, abrasions to brass, especially far right edge of Chris Craft Corporation sign. Various oxidation, soiling, and paint (from stencil painting) on the signs.
“History.” Algonac Harbour Club. http://www.algonacharbourclub.com/ahc1/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=71 (19 March 2012).
“History Timeline.” Chris-Craft. 2012. http://www.chriscraft.com/history/history-timeline/ (19 March 2012).
Savage, Jack. Chris Craft. Osceola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks International Publishing Co., 2000. p. 90. Online at Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=dqU8IpLM2nYC (19 March 2012).