Saturday, September 20, 2008

Period Western Union Telegram

What would a "Call of Cthulhu" prop site be without the obligatory Western Union telegram?

Click the picture below to get the full-size, high resolution version and then save that to your hard drive.

If you just want to bang out a quick and dirty telegram, open the blank telegram image in a graphics program, add a layer with your message text in a typewriter font, and print.

If you want something a little more realistic you'll need some yellow paper and a word processing program. Open a new 8 1/2" by 11" document and put the blank telegram image on the top of the page. Then use the bottom half of the page to type out your message, again with a typewriter font. Print out the document, cut the page so the blank telegram is on one sheet of paper and your message text is on the other, and then carefully cut out the strips of paper containing your message text. Then use a glue stick to attach the strips of text to the blank telegram sheet.

Tada! An almost instant telegram.

Here's a rough guide to how your document should look if you're using the more involved technique I described above.

Here's an actual Western Union telegram to give you an idea how it should look.


Jim Epler said...

What font size do you typically choose to emulate type on your props? 12 pt?

Unknown said...

Anyone know where I can find a template for the Western Union telegram envelope with the address window open?

Raven said...

For telegram (rather than typewriter) fonts:

First and foremost, where better than Andrew Leman's scholarly font files at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society? "HPLHS-Telegram is a detailed replica of the type used on real Western Union telegrams in the 1920s and '30s." One of the free fonts you can download here (or get as part of an even larger collection for purchase).

Another, "LD Telegram" (Google it for a download source), has the regular corroded uppercase letters — but if you type lowercase, you get the same letters with cutting lines preprinted above and below, for Exacto-blading out your text stripes to paste into the telegram. Handy!

For Continental (notably German) telegrams, needing the digrams ue/oe/ae to represent umlauted vowels, and the doubled-s ligature ("eszet" or "scharfes s"), try Mark Zanzig's "Teleprinter" (Normal, Bold, I[n]talic, and Bold I[n]talic). Not for PDF embedding.

Kashiko said...

Raven, thank you so much for that!!! <3