Much thanks for accepting this as the answer to your question.
On further searching, I think I have found that "off the shelf" solution that
you want, courtesy of the U.S. Screen Print and Inkjet Technology website.
"Distressed Images With Corel, Photoshop, and Illustrator"
- Go to EDIT - PLACE, and then select the distress.tif file.
- Move tif to cover graphic.
- By default, tif will open with a fill color of black. Change the fill to
white, or any non-printing color.
- To change the look you can distort the file, rotate it, use multiple copies,
As they put it, "That's it!"
The "distress.tif" file they mention above can actually be one of four (Very
Fine, Fine, Medium and Large) image files that simulate a distressed look, and
can be downloaded from the above website's downloads page.
"Just when we thought the Distressed Look would go away, it seems to be bigger
than ever. It has gone from Main Street stores like Old Navy, The Gap and
Abercrombie to your average customer and school asking for it. These four
Overlay files give you a variety of random distressing to the image."
All four image files and the "README" file can downloaded from this link.
Here are the links already mentioned, with a couple more that I found.
AdobeTutorialz - "Creating in Illustrator CS2 Tips - Vintage Texture Effect"
FontShop - "Tip: The Worn/Weathered/Stamped Look"
ScreenWeb - "Distressed Designs for T-Shirts"
About.com - "Distressed Patterns"
iStock - "Grunge Construction"
Virginia Tech - Technology Education Program - "Paths of Least Resistance"
If you have FontLab in addition to Illustrator, there is this.
U.K. Computer Arts - "Distress your fonts"
If you need any clarification, please feel free to ask.
Google search on: weathered OR distress OR distressed Illustrator
Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher