Brief background story
How has it been, the american stencils before the beginning of 20th Century?
The stencil type was a specialized own industry: the handcraft workers developed their own styles and own stencil-sets, applied a patent to cover the mechanical tools that they used to make stencil-lettering. This was a launch for s competing companies that offered ready-made sets of stencil designs. Besides of having a basic character set, the stencil-punches also included small sets of ornaments. Stencil setting was free of having a fixed squarish cast (like metal-type setting used to have), and this gave a freedom to play around: to use the letters to make fancy illustrations.
Take a look at these beautiful decorated barrel top designs (round ones) and sophisticated name-plates. The stencils were a lot more than military/machinery markings.
These examples are from the magazine 'Baseline', from the article 'Stencil work in America 1850-1900' in number 38, 2002.