Mad Men Paper Props--Don's license


New Member
My wife loves Mad Men and I am in the process of making a really cool shadow box with some replica props as a Christmas present. I wasn't able to find any paper props from this show, so I decided to have a go and make one.

I started with Don Drapers New York state driver's license. The show takes place in the early 60s so something like that would be all text, no photo IDs to make it difficuly. I was able to find a good example from the internet of Eleanor Roosevelt's renewal from 1961. Most of the typefaces seem like a variation of Futura with something like Garamond. So, that's what I decided to use.

The next problem was the scale. I was able to find a few photos from a Mad Men exhibit somewhere online. The photo showed a license just peaking out of a wallet. Most wallet photos are 2.5" x 3.5" and it was around that size. There was actually a wallet photo in the picture. I was also able to figure out the scale from the Roosevelt renewal. I collect typewriters and there are two main character sizes in typewriters: elite and pica. Pica is 10 characters per inch. Elite is 12 characters per inch. I printed out the rough draft and typed numbers 1-5 in the "Sex" box. The typewriter I used is a know pica typewriter. The sex box held exactly 5 characters. That means the box is 1/2 an inch. The example from the National Archives has six characters (the world is "female") and that fits perfectly in the box. From that I was able to reasonably guess that a 1961 New York state drivers license is roughly 3.5" x 3.5"

I imported Roosevelt's renewal into InDesign and I made a new layer. On the new layer I started laying out the text. Obviously, this text was set by hand and I am using a computer so there would be some variation and I am looking for "very plausible", not "perfect". The whole process took about an hour or two. It wasn't the worst and had a lot in common with a puzzle. In the end I had something that was believable enough to work. It's going to be hidden in a wallet anyway.

There are a few areas that I could have worked harder on. First, there is supposed to be a back to this form. I could't find and example anywhere. If I stumble on one, I'll make it. The other cringeworthy part is the pointing finger. I had to cobble something together. It works, but the original looks better.

Apart from that, please enjoy!