Next time you go to the dentist and he or she decides that you need some treatment, just sit back, relax and thank them for being instrumental in bringing you your favourite hobby of rubber stamping! Aah, now you're probably thinking that I have completely lost my marbles, but no, you'd be wrong there because the birth of the rubber stamp is very closely linked to early dentistry! Surprised? Yes, me too! So how did this all come about?
A walk back in time sees the earliest stamps being made from metal, usually brass and these preceded the rubber version by possibly six to eight years. They were originally used with wax and were important in sealing important documents for privacy. We see this on many historical dramas don't we, when the messenger rides off in to the distance clutching that important piece of information which often results in the beheading of somebody or other!! Phew, thank goodness for the arrival for Royal Mail eh? I don't much fancy seeing a guy on horseback with one of those messages in his mitts! I'd be running for the hills!
Anyway, I digress! There does appear to be a little confusion surrounding the production of the first rubber stamp, but it was in America that a chap by the name of Charles Goodyear decided to investigate in his kitchen with some rubber and sulphur. Eat your heart out Delia Smith, bet you've never cooked with rubber and sulphur! He dropped a mixture of these two ingredients on to his hot stove and found it to be still pliable the next day! Hurrah! This process was called vulcanisation after Vulcan, The Roman god of fire. Thus, in 1844 Charles Goodyear had discovered how to cure rubber.
Dentists were using vulcanised rubber, set in plaster moulds, to make cheap denture bases. They had their own vulcanisers, called " dental pots" and these pots were eventually used to manufacture the first rubber stamps.
By 1866 James C. Woodruff had begun to experiment with a vulcaniser and was trying to make some letter moulds. He had consulted with his dentist uncle and used the dental pot and so the first rubber stamp was born. Since then there has been an explosion of interest in rubber stamping that has seen it take on a life of its own. So next time you pick up your stamps, say a little thanks to your dentist and a set of false teeth!
( This history has been researched on the internet- any inaccuracies aren't mine!!)