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WWI dog tag Marking Outfit


Marking Outfit - Value?

A Marking Outfit is probably not worth $10,000.00 under ANY circumstances but in most cases is surely worth more than $10.00

There are two questions we receive from members on a regular basis.

Q #1: I want to purchase a Marking Outfit - what are they worth?

A #1: Unless you want to purchase a Marking Outfit for it's historical value we would NOT recommend a Marking Outfit for making retail or reproduction dog tags.

You can purchase new steel stamp sets with crisp clean letters and numbers for a quarter the price of a actual Marking Outfit.  Using a true Marking Outfit to make tags would be akin to commuting to and from work in the "Spirit of St. Louis" - why would you do this when there are so many other better alternatives available to you that are cheaper, more efficient and more realistic?

Some of the Marking Outfits are more rare than others, such as the 1907 and two pin anvil models.  Since the 1907 and two pin anvil kits are harder to find their value is greater than the more common single pin anvil kits commonly found on eBay.

Legitimate and verifiable variations of the standard Marking Outfit would enhance value.

Condition, condition, condition - just as in real estate you will here location, location, location - I cannot stress enough these Marking Outfits are NOT Rare!!!  The value is in the "condition," of the kit itself.

Do not make the mistake of purchasing the first Marking Outfit that comes along.

Many of these kits are missing components, such as stamps, screws, guide plates, anvils and hammers.  Many kits offered have damaged or deteriorating wood boxes.

This box is in our opinion Poor to Good in condition - It is water damaged, markings are hard to read and paint is almost gone.

The better the condition and the more "complete," the kit the greater the value.  Being "complete," with all issued components is the most important factor when considering condition.

This box is water damaged, cracked and warped, joints are loose or broken, one hinge is missing the screws.

After being complete the condition of the physical kit "overall," is very subjective and is a factor where one can "horse trade," about price.

NOTE: see below about "WILLIAM FEVERSHAM"

NOTE: NEVER under any circumstances use a Marking Outfit for stamping or imprinting WWII or Current Issue dog tags.  You will flatten out the face of the stamp and mushroom the font.

Documentation - let me qualify "verifiable documentation," will enhance value.  Any supporting documentation that will show that the actual marking outfit offered for sale was issued and to whom would really help the value.

As a general rule of thumb:

For wood boxes only, are found offered from time to time and we place very little value on just the box alone.  The chances of finding contents for the box are so slim that we are hard pressed to pay any large amount for a box alone.

For "Incomplete," kits we value at less than $100.00 depending upon the items missing.  There are just too many complete kits being offered to pay large sums of money for incomplete or poor condition units.

NOTE: Do NOT buy a kit with missing items thinking that you will replace them with original replacements at a future point in time.  You will NOT find individual components of these kits available -  even on eBay.

Kits with missing items are a fact of life, there is nothing wrong with these kits, just take into account that there are missing items and adjust your offer accordingly.

"Complete," kits with a single pin anvil dependant upon condition appear to yield the most return.

Rare kits - can bring much more depending upon, condition, completeness and supporting documentation.  Keep in mind the single pin anvil kits are NOT considered Rare.

In our humble opinion we consider that anything over $200.00 for a Marking Outfit MUST dictate exceptional circumstances unique to the individual kit being offered.

Q #2: I have a Marking Outfit I want to sell how much can I get?

A #2: The above answer basically provides a value basis but here are some tips that might increase the value to a purchaser.

Any supporting documentation would increase the value.

A documented and verifiable history of the physical unit offered for sale will help the value.

Overall Condition greatly effect the net worth of a kit.

Do Not clean or restore the kit prior to being offered for sale.  Let the purchaser clean or restore the kit.

Always show extremely detailed photographs of any kit offered for sale.  In particular the stamping anvil and all sides of the stamping anvil.


PRE-WWI Identification Tags

Identification tags prior to 1906 and WWI (1914-1918) were stamped by what ever method was available.  There was no official military equipment used to imprint identification tags prior to 1906.

The first use of official issued equipment to imprint dog tags was done with the 1907 Marking Outfit designed for the M-1906 identification tag.

Pre-1906 tags were marked or imprinted by several different methods.  Hand Engraving and Hand Stamping appear to be the two most prevalent methods of imprinting pre-1906 tags.

On eBay you will see Graphotype G1 and 6100 series machines being offered for sale as WWI dog tag machines.  You can rest assured that there were NO WWI dog tag machines.

The military first used Graphotype machines to make dog tags about 1938 or 1939.  Prior to this all identification tags were hand stamped.


WILLIAM FEVERSHAM - Who the Heck is William Feversham?

I see Mr. FEVERSHAM's name on almost every Marking Outfit, he must have been one busy guy.

Mr. FEVERSHAM sure did own a lot of Marking Outfits.

Mr. FEVERSHAM must have manufactured these Marking Outfits.

Mr. FEVERSHAM was a war hero.

Mr. FEVERSHAM was a high ranking military officer that inspected every Marking Outfit or that designed the Marking Outfit.

 - THE TRUTH IS . . .

On most Marking Outfits one will find a small square paper label.

The label is an illustration of a M-1906 single hole identification tag affixed to the inside of the wooden box.

Simply put the label is a sample for the imprinter to follow when imprinting identification tags.

This label/tag will read:

CO. C, 74TH INF.

In general this paper label is usually affixed to the flat part of the box on the right side just under the template thumb screw and to the right of the anvil slot.

Many people will erroneously purport to prospective sellers that this label is the owner of the kit.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

This label is an example provided by the military to illustrate how identification disks were to be imprinted.

Many times eBay sellers who don't truly know what they have go to the Internet and take the first description they find and use that for their sales pitch.

We have heard it all and read it all on eBay.

The lack of a "WILLIAM FEVERSHAM" label does not really effect the value of a Marking Outfit, not all of them had this label.

Graphotype.net recommends to any and all perspective purchasers that they educate themselves before purchasing anything they are unsure of.

Our motto is:


We believe that the consumer should educate themselves.

See out eBay section for more information about selling and buying.

-eBay here-





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Marking Outfit

Page Incomplete - in work - revisions being made: 09/2007 # # #




This is an overall view of the interior of a Marking Outfit as issued.
Notice that the box was machined to fit the individual components.


In a time before machines pre-1940 - identification tags (dog tags) were hand stamped with steel stamp sets specifically designed by the military for marking military identification tags.

The military issued kits had an official nomenclature of:


In 1906 the War Department issued General Order 204.

General Order 204 officially created a military standard for individual identification tags.  The order called for identification tags to be made of aluminum, be round in shape and to have a diameter of 30mm.

After definition of the official identification tag a method of marking those tags had to be devised.  The War Department's solution to imprinting identification tags was to develop and issue a steel stamp set called a Marking Outfit.

This photo shows how Marking Outfits were labeled
as issued by the Military the 1907 kit was slightly different.

Marking Outfit kits were issued after the creation of the M-1906 identification tag as outlined in War Department General Order 204.  The first known Marking Outfits were issued in 1907.  Many people believe that WWI identification tags were produced on Graphotype machines or some other imprinting machine, the fact is that prior to World War Two all military dog tags were imprinted by hand with steel stamps.

Graphotype machines were NOT used for the production of military identification tags prior to World War Two - no World War One tags were imprinted using a Graphotype machine.

If you are ever offered dog tags of WWI vintage and they are machine stamped, you can be assured they are fakes.  From time to time you will see sellers on eBay and other similar sites offering machine stamped pre-WWII identification tags as being authentic - you can rest assured they are reproductions and they are fake.

There are several variations of the Marking Outfit - for general discussion we will address the Marking Outfit that is intended for marking, spoons, knives, forks and meat cans - with the addition of marking a M-1906 30mm single hole identification tag.  Other variations will be specifically addressed later in this document on an individual basis.

This illustration shows the major components of the Marking Outfit
Starting at the top left and going clockwise - Anvil, Thumb Screw
Template #1, Template #2 with arch, Template #3 and Hammer

Standard Marking Outfits are fairly common and can be found on eBay almost weekly.  There is misconception that these Marking Outfits are Rare.  While there are what we consider "rare," Marking Outfits the vast majority of Marking Outfits offered for sale are the latest standard issue and they do not qualify as rare, obscure maybe or vintage but not "rare".  Variations of Marking Outfits will be addressed later with specific attention to those that are known to be scare or rare.

Visible are Steel Stamps and Hammer

In this photo you can clearly see, Steel Stamps,
 Thumb screw, Anvil, "FEVERSHAM" Label,
 handle of hammer and templates.



The box for a standard Marking Outfit is made of wood.  There are two hinges on the rear of the box attaching the lid to the base.  On the front of the box there are two "J" hooks that pivot on a screw and act as a clasp to hold the lid closed and secure then the Marking Outfit is stored or transported. 

We have seen two types of lids - 1) One made from a  solid piece of wood routed to allow for the proper clearance of components and 2) a fabricated lid composed of a flat back with an edging of mortised wood to form a lip around the outside edge of the lid.


The anvil is the heart of the Marking Outfit.  It is the single most important item in the kit that cannot be replaced.  The anvil is just as the name implies, it is a surface for which to work from.  There are several different anvils that were produced.

The material from which anvils was made also varies from Marking Outfit to Marking Outfit.  We have seen anvils of Brass, Bronze, Cast Iron and Steel.

The 1907 Marking Outfit appears to have a anvil made of steel.  The tag cavity and guide slots are clearly machined and not cast.  Of all the anvils we have seen the 1907 anvil appears to be the most costly and labor intensive to manufacture.  See 1907 below for more specific details.

Brass, Bronze and Cast Iron anvils all appear to start as a casting.  The meat can, fork, knife and spoon forms all appear to be "as cast" with little or no finish machining.  On a majority of cast anvils the tag cavity is not finish machined except for drilling and the addition of the locating pin.  Only a very small fraction of cast anvils have any finish machining done to the tag cavity


A standard Marking Outfit contains templates made of sheet steel to aid in properly imprinting items. 


The thumb screw is used to hold the item being imprinted and the template in place while using the anvil.  All thumb screws we have seen have been made of brass and utilize a 1/4-20 thread.


Standard hammers are cast iron or cast brass.  They usually have an "as cast" finish with no clean up other than casting flash removal.  Most of the hammers we have seen are a one piece casting with a cast in place head.


Steel Stamps in Marking Outfits are standard steel stamps.  There is nothing special about the steel stamps.  Many times you will find a stamp or two replaced or missing.  The fact that a steel stamp set is not complete should not factor heavily into the value of the overall Marking Outfit.  Steel Stamps are designed to wear out and are intended to be replaced.


There were many variations of the Marking Outfit - below we try to cover a few of the most common.

Stamping Outfit for Identification Tags No. 749

-insert photo here-

The 1907 Marking Outfit is the earliest know "official" marking kit issued by the United States military, known in 1907 as the War Department.

This Marking Outfit is one of the hardest to find and would be considered rare.  Especially in original and complete condition.

We have in our collection a fine specimen of the 1907 Marking Outfit.  What makes this kit unique is that it is for marking identification tags only and has no provisions for marking spoons, forks, knives or meat cans.

Some other items different from the later issue Marking Outfits are the hammer and anvil contained in the kit. 

The hammer is a two piece hammer with a cast iron head affixed to a wooden handle - much like a tack hammer used by upholsters.

The anvil is of solid steel and is machined to stamp identification tags only.  The anvil is marked Frankford Arsenal and dated 1907.  The right side of the anvil bears the markings H.F.C., which is suspected to be a inspectors stamp.

The anvil has one single round cavity machined into the block with one locating pin specifically made for the M-1906 identification tag.

There is also two pins located on the face of the anvil to locate the templates used for imprinting.  On the 1907 Marking Outfit there is no thumb screw to hold the templates in place.

In the book "Dog Tags A History of the American Military Identification Tag 1861 to 2002", by Paul F. Braddock one can clearly see the 1907 Marking Outfit Anvil illustrated on page 15.  Mr. Braddock indicates in his book that this Marking Outfit is know as the first outfit specifically issued to imprint the M-1906 identification tag.

Marking Outfit for Marking Metal
     Including Identification Tags - Single pin

-insert photo here-

This model of Marking Outfit is know as "Standard Issue" - a term we have assigned this kit for lack of proper information as to nomenclature or kit revision information.

The single pin Marking Outfit shows up regularly on eBay.  Many times eBay sellers will list these marking outfits as "civil war", "rare", so on and on. THIS KIT IS NOT RARE -there were hundreds of them produced.  If these kits were a rarity they would not show up on eBay almost weekly.  The only difference between these kits is generally condition.

Marking Outfit for Marking Metal
     Including Identification Tags - Double pin
     For the M-1918 and M-1918A two hole round tags

-insert photo here-

This Marking Outfit is a bit harder to come by than the single pin kits.  The only difference between this kit and the single pin Marking Outfit is that the anvil in this kit has two pins in the cavity for locating the identification tag blanks.

The hammer, templates, thumb screw and steel stamps are all the same in this kit as in the single pin unit.  Of the few two pin Marking Outfits we have seen all of them utilize a fabricated lid on the storage box instead of a single piece lid.

The M-1918 identification tag was 30mm in diameter.

The M1918A identification tag was 35mm in diameter.

Marking Outfit for Marking Metal
     Without Identification Tags

-insert photo here-

This Marking Outfit is even harder to find and has an anvil with seating for the knife, spoon, fork and meat can but NO cavity for marking Identification Tags.

There are several templates but not the full set of three because the template with the oval is only used for identification tags.

It is suspect that these kits were the last of the Marking Outfits to be officially issued and that while the military was still using knives, spoons, forks and meat cans, they had moved towards other methods of imprinting identification tags hence the deletion of the tag cavity from the anvil.

Marking Outfit for Stamping Leather

-insert photo here-

This kit is as the name states, Marking Outfit For Stamping Leather.  The kit comes in the same wooden box as the Metal Stamping Outfit but instead of having an anvil and hammer the kit only contains metal stamps.

All the Leather Marking Outfits we have seen utilize metal stamps made of brass or bronze and are intended to be used for marking leather.

The font size of the Leather Marking Outfit is considerably larger than that of the companion Metal Stamping Outfit.  Of the kits we have inspected font size measures 0.zzz"

These Marking Outfits for Leather are fairly common with one or two being offered on eBay every month or so.





NEVER under any circumstances use a Marking Outfit for stamping or imprinting WWII or Current Issue "flat," dog tags.  You will damage or flatten out the face of the stamp and mushroom the font.

These steel stamps are to be used only on non-hardened material such as aluminum. If stamping flat material such as a current issue stainless steel Identification Tag there should be a malleable "soft" or yielding material under the tag such as a wood platen.

When these steel stamps are used on aluminum the stamps work great provided the aluminum is of sufficient thickness for proper material displacement.

Current Issue and WWII Identification Tags are 0.016" in thickness and DO NOT have enough material thickness to allow for metal displacement unless the stamping platen is soft such as wood.

The thickness or of the tags causes the steel stamps to punch downward past the bottom of the tag to create a legible mark and any hard surface under the tag will receive the blow of the font face and mushroom the face of the font.

On average WWI Identification disks were made of Aluminum with an average thickness of 0.078" providing sufficient material to displace the stricken font without punching through the bottom of the tag.

Bottom Line is this - these steel stamps are NOT intended for use on hardened material or hard steel.

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