Rubber Stamps have an interesting history for those who don’t know that they might have been inspired by dentures. Yes, it’s true: dental dentures! But some background first, as Charles Goodyear had to discover the secret to vulcanization. This is the process of “curing” rubber so that it can be molded as desired. Before Mr. Goodyear’s discovery, rubber — in its natural state — was not very practical to work with.It is sticky and cannot stay set in any one particular shape. But with vulcanization, rubber, once cooled, would stay in the shape in which it had been set.
Unhappily, Mr. Goodyear did not benefit financially from his invention, though he was publicly recognized by the Emperor of France, Napoleon himself, and prestigiously decorated with many honors. His invention, however, went on to find many applications that would soon change the world. One of these was dentures. Rubber was determined to be a great replacement material for the dentures of the day, which were often made of metal or even wood.Dentists had long been making their own dentures, and one of these many dentists had a curious nephew who realized the potential of rubber and eventually wound up making rubber stamps for the U.S. Postal Service. This nephew, a certain Mr. James Woodruff, is often credited with having invented the quality rubber stamp we recognize oday. But there exists, believe it or not, many different accounts of the origins of rubber stamps, depending on exactly how a rubber stamp is defined, with one even stretching all the way back to the ancient Mayans! This version just presented is among the most widely accepted accounts for the marking devices which we today would most immediately recognize as being a rubber stamp.
Another widely popular and acknowledged account of the invention the rubber stamp concerns a Mr. L.F. Witherell, who even composed a document titled “How I Came to Discover the Rubber Stamp” wherein he claimed to have been inspired during work as a foreman at a wooden pump manufacturing facility. According to Mr. Witherell, there was a problem one day involving the paint that was used to mark the pumps. The paint would run and create obscuring blotches in front of necessary information. Mr. Witherell happened on the notion of making stencils from some of the thin sheets of rubber packing laying about. But while making the stencil, he thought further and decided to simply create thick letters out of the rubber, then glue them to a backing of wood, with which he could make repeated impressions of the necessary marks.
The one account thought least plausible involves a Mr. Henry C. Leland, who was actually championed, ironically, during his time by none other than the “Stamp Trade News,” published by a manufacturer of rubber stamps.But whatever its actual origins, there is no doubt that the rubber stamp itself has left quite an impression on our world.
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