Carbon transfer paper without the paper...
December 8, 2016 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Years ago someone gave me one package of carbon transfer 'paper' acquired from a thrift store, but rather than being paper it was on a plasticy backing. If I had to guess, the backing was mylar. The backside of the sheet was green with a pattern of gold stylized leaves. The carbon side was also shiny, and if I had to guess the carbon was suspended in wax. My google skills have failed me. Do you know what this stuff was, and better yet whether this exact product or something quite similar still exists?
posted by jamaal to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Sounds like dry transfer decals. I have mostly seen them in the form of Letraset lettering and black-and-white elements for old-school graphic design and comics but the internet turns up all sorts of other kinds. You can still find them around but apparently Letraset has discontinued the screentone sheets.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:32 PM on December 8, 2016

isn't this just "carbon paper"? i don't ever remember carbon paper being made of real paper - it was always like you describe (at least, the kind used by my mother in a typewriter, back in the 70s or 80s).

here's some, for example. (since that's a german make, and i am english, i wonder if this is a euro / us thing?)
posted by andrewcooke at 12:33 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I second the dry-transfer sheets, this really sounds like Letraset or somethign similar. While they are not used that often in the graphic arts any more, there are still custom dry-transfer decal makers. They still sell the sheets of dry transfer letters at craft stores. (Michael's in the U.S.)
posted by Cranialtorque at 12:42 PM on December 8, 2016

andrewcooke has identified exactly the right thing. Apparently this stuff is hard to find in North America. I will leave this thread open for the moment in case someone knows how I acquire this stuff in N.A., especially in Canada, while I go do some googling with some new keywords. Thanks.
posted by jamaal at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2016

Unsure why folks are thinking OP is asking about dry transfer letters, as nowhere does s/he mention lettering.

OP, you are most definitely just thinking about "carbon paper" as andrewcooke states.

Wikipedia: "Carbon paper (originally carbonic paper) was originally paper coated on one side with a layer of a loosely bound dry ink or pigmented coating, bound with wax, used for making one or more copies simultaneously with the creation of an original document when using a typewriter or a ballpoint pen. [...] In 1954 the Columbia Ribbon & Carbon Manufacturing Company filed a patent for what became known in the trade as solvent carbon paper: the coating was changed from wax-based to polymer-based. The manufacturing process changed from a hot-melt method to a solvent-applied coating or set of coatings. It was then possible to use polyester or other plastic film as a substrate, instead of paper, although the name remained carbon paper."
posted by some chick at 12:46 PM on December 8, 2016

just wanted to add that when i click through to individual types, two of the brands i linked to are actually paper base (including the one called "interplastic").
posted by andrewcooke at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2016

Carbon paper used to be paper; I've got a few old sheets in my shop (like 50+ years old). Single use carbons are still paper.

The Pelikan product is available from a reseller on
posted by Mitheral at 3:11 PM on December 8, 2016

Available online at Office Depot (or maybe in their stores, too. Didn't call my local store.)
posted by namret at 4:42 PM on December 8, 2016

The only place you'll find carbon paper is if you find an old box of multipart computer paper. It uses a thin tissue coated one one side with a wax and carbon black mixture.

Porelon still make it, likely in the same facility that they make typewriter and DMP ribbons in the southern US. I remember the brand with the gold backing and the wreaths, as I remember my grandpa “liberated” a tonne of office supplies when he retired in the 1970s.
posted by scruss at 5:22 PM on December 8, 2016

Was it something like Magic Slate?
posted by capricorn at 8:39 PM on December 8, 2016

What you described sounds to me like a stencil. They were used to make many copies, sort of like a Ditto/ spirit duplicator w/o the awful smell. here's a link:
posted by james33 at 7:28 AM on December 9, 2016

Several different options for carbon paper and similar items on, including the stuff that andrewcooke linked to.
posted by jenny76 at 8:40 AM on December 9, 2016

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