by Debbie Hamman
The early days of the rubber stamp industry begins in 1866. JFW Dorman was the first person to commercialize the making of rubber stamps. His vulcanizer machine began producing rubber stamps during the Civil War. Dorman's business is still in production today.
Charles Klinker began selling stamps in San Francisco in 1873. His red rubber stamps were a hot selling item at that time.
It wasn't until the trade publications began promoting rubber stamps that the little stamp took with the public. No more using the rubber stamp just in the dentist office. The magazines promoted trade ethics, price controls, and manufacturing techniques.
Rubber stamps in the beginning were mostly words used in business and the post office. Common images like trees, animals, and coins came next. Stores were few and far between in the early days. The whole country was a basic rubber wasteland.
Some of the early companies sprung up in Ohio:
Flim-Flam Shop -- Chagrin Falls
Readance Rubber Stamp Service -- Cleveland
Bookman Enterprise -- La Rue, Oh
Hobbies & Things -- North Olmstead, Oh
The true Mecca of rubber stamp stores is still considered the West Coast. Early companies are still going strong. Which ones on this list ring a bell?
All Night Media -- started in 1974 with only 250 stamps, mostly phrases. They have since merged with Plaid and moved to Georgia in 1999.
Hero Arts -- started 1974. The catalog had 100 stamps with prices ranging from $3.00-$4.75. Don't you wish the prices were still that low?
Rubberstampede came out with a catalog in 1977 that boasted 150 stamps. Today Rubberstampede is owned by Delta Paints but still going.
Inkadinkado -- began in Boston in 1980 with a cart selling stamps in the market place. I still have stamps, which I got from this same cart merchant. Today Inkadinkado has moved to a huge building in Woburn, Mass and sell thousands of designs.
Graphic Stamp -- 1973 in Los Angeles with only 30 stamps in the catalog.
Personal Stamp Exchange (PSX) started in 1980. The stamps were found mostly in gift stores and stationary shops. PSX has since altered its line and is featuring not only stamps but also stickers based on their designs.
Next time you visit a rubber stamp store, ask about the store and the various companies. The 1960 - late80's had very few companies compared to the boom of the 1990's. I bet a lot of the storeowners could not tell you the background on some of the companies they represent.