Vallejo Army Navy Store – 6341 Graphotype

Vallejo store’s dog tag machine to be featured on cable TV show

Posted: 02/07/2012 01:03:48 AM PST

A machine that spent much of World War II on Mare Island cranking out the metal tags by which soldiers are identified, will be featured on television Wednesday night.

Called “Top Dog,” the American Restoration episode about the circa 1942 Graphotype machine is set to air on the History Channel at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, said its owner Ray Prather of Vallejo’s Victory Stores on Virginia Street.

The machine, now restored, is available at Victory Stores to create new dog tags, with most of the $14.98 price going to help fund Vallejo’s 2012 fireworks display, Prather said.

Even after Vallejo Electric revamped the machine’s motor, American Restoration officials had significant work to do to make it function smoothly, Prather said.

Found in a Fairfield antique store, the machine likely produced addressing plates or data plates at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard before turning out dog tags, expert Lindsay Hodgdon of said.

Fellow merchant Ken Ingersoll recognized its significance and convinced Prather to by it, despite its $980 price tag, Prather said.

The two did some research and contacted American Restoration about their find.

“Within a week, they got back to us and said they wanted to see it,” Prather said.

The two drove the nearly 400 pound machine to Las Vegas, where the show is taped and picked it back up after the restoration.

Prather’s machine has been drawing interest, with at least 20 tags made in the week or “so it’s been in operation, he said.

“So, that’s $200 toward the fireworks we didn’t have before,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or


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