QUESTION: In what American city was the Centennial Exhibition held in 1876?
A) New York City
C) Washington, D.C.
As anyone who has visited us knows by now, there are countless treasures displayed at the ATT (hence our name). Some of them we talk about, some of them we play, some of them we quietly take you past as we go along in the electric tram. Today, we are going to address the history behind one of the most important pieces of office equipment few people ever take the time to appreciate. Ours is unnaturally big - huge, you might say, in comparison to one of the more unusual of the latter - an over-sized rubber stamp that reads "Received."
It is impossible to calculate how many man (and, of course, woman) hours have been saved over the years by the adoption of rubber stamps to replace the process of manually writing "Received" on every official document day after day, for year after year, prior to the advent of e-mail in the digital age.
The earliest American patent we have found dedicated to stamp technology dates to the year 1855, and it was not for a rubber stamp, but a metal one. Owned by the Boston Hand Stamp Company, the Ruggles patent must not have done the trick, since the metal stamp was never embraced by office workers like the rubber version was. The first rubber stamps appeared right around 1864, with the Chamberlain Brass Wheel Ribbon Dating Stamp heading the herd along with B.B. Hill's Brass Wheel Ribbon Ticket Dater. Followers of rubber stamp lore accredit Hill as being "the father of the mechanical rubber stamp." Some of these early stamps were used originally by Union Army officials dealing with official military documents. Few developments with this wonderful advance in office equipment were recorded over the years, we are sorry to say, and it was not until 1959 that the first actual patent for a rubber stamp appeared - that one was submitted by Fred R. Tannery of New York, who incorporated interchanging characters that were mounted on his device.
All said and done, we will be grateful to have our over-sized "Received" stamp on display in the Toy Box here at the American Treasure Tour.
ANSWER: B) Philadelphia. If you don't know much about the Exhibition, and there's not much out there about it, we encourage you to check it out on-line. It has an amazing story! Maybe we'll talk about it again in another blog. And another. And another.