Rubber Stamp Facts
Page 3: Multiple Choice for the Inventor of the Rubber Stamp - part 1
The actual source of the first rubber stamp is still mired in mystery. It's a game of multiple choice for the inventor.
Candidate number one, L.F. Witherell of Knoxville, Illinois, caused quite a stir in June 1916, at the stamp men's convention in Chicago, by reading a paper entitled "How I Came to Discover the Rubber Stamp."
Witherell, noting that "nearly all great and marvelous inventions or discoveries have sprung into the world as a result of an accident," claimed his accidental discovery of the rubber stamp took place in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1866 while he was foreman for a manufacturer of wooden pumps. At that time virtually all identification marking was made with brass or copper stencils and paint. The pump company was experiencing problems with paint running under stencils and creating blotches on the pumps. Witherell decided to try cutting stencils out of thin sheets of rubber packing. It was while cutting letters out of a sheet of rubber, and watching the letters fall at his feet, that his brainstorm hit. He promplty cut more letters out of thicker rubber, glued them to a piece of old bedpost, inked the creation on a leather ink pad, rolled the bedpost over a pump and made a good impression of his own initials.
Unfortunately, Witherell could not whip out his bedpost stamp for an historic show-and-tell. Two years earlier, in 1914, Witherell had claimed to have the bedpost stamp still in his possession as a "potato masher," but at the convention he told the curious audience that the "sacred treasure" had been stolen from him "some years ago."
Continuing with his saga, Witherell said he next came up with the idea of vulcanized-rubber stamps and went to a dental office in Chicago where he claimed to have vulcanized "the first genuine rubber stamp in the world." Witherell's claims also extended to "the creation of the first stamp ever sold for money," which he said was made in Knoxville with the assistance of printer's apprentice O.L. Campbell, who set the type for the stamp. It was used to print on tinware.
Witherell then began to pursue his stamp career in earnest, havign G.D. Colton & Co. make him a vulcanizer. He produced stamps with a series of partners, the first being B.W. Merritt, "a jolly old batchelor yankee who sold gate latches." Finally he set up his own factory with his brother and a fellow named D.A. Dudley.
- Page 1: Introduction
- Page 2: Prelude to the Invention of the Rubber Stamp
- Page 3: Multiple Choice for the Inventor of the Rubber Stamp - part 1
- Page 4: Multiple Choice for the Inventor of the Rubber Stamp - part 2
- Page 5: Multiple Choice for the Inventor of the Rubber Stamp - part 3
- Page 6: Extract taker from the book 'Rubber Stamping', Search Press S7944
- Page 7: Early Days in the Rubber Stamp Industry - part 1
- Page 8: Early Days in the Rubber Stamp Industry - part 2