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You too can rubber letterpress! Wait, what?

A month or so ago I was at a flea market in the middle of nowhere. It was POURING down rain, so booths were closing up, but one man had a tarp set up, so I went running to his booth, shook myself off like a dog, and started looking at the wares for sale. I saw this box that had some interesting fonts on it’s cover that said Superior Swift Set. I took the time to remove the rubber bands, trying not to ruin the completely soaked through box and when I opened it I had to stop my mouth from dropping open (you have to keep a poker face at a flea market or they’ll never haggle over the price and you’ll spend too much money.) I wasn’t entirely sure how it all worked but it looked remarkably like a type case with little RUBBER letters! The set included multiples of upper/lowercase letters, numerals, punctuation, ornament, and even rubber spacing material. I covered the box up, managed to maintain my giddy, child-like grin and paid a fair price of $2.00 (I’m an expert haggler) for the whole kit.

I ran back to the car and just sat in the seat trying to figure it all out. I knew I had found something amazing. I managed to get the instructions out and start reading them and there is was: It was set up almost exactly like a letterpress! The little rubber letters had notches taken out so that you knew how to line them up (just like metal type), and you set the letters on the stamp (much like a composing stick), by sliding them on/between the metal rows on the stamp heads. The notch of the letters then catch, making the rubber letters sit solidly and not move. The set even included two sets of tweezers, perfect for gripping the type and pulling it onto the stamp head.

This was just too good! I could stamp up to 3 lines with one stamp or one lines with the other. It would have been perfect for return addresses, or seed packages (which I believe this was originally used for, since the inside of the box was covered with the stamp “Lowe’s Seeds.”

My imagination even got further when I saw on the back of the booklet/instructions that you could actually purchase a commercial letterpress to stamp the rubber letters! Albeit this was produced in the 1950s, and most likely this press wasn’t being manufactured anymore, it gave me something to look for at my next flea market! I’ll be buying an ink pad this weekend and testing it out!

Box set. This box is about 6 in. x 6.5 in.

Kit included two tweezers, two stamps, many, many rubber letters, and an instructions booklet.

Closeup of type case. So many cute serifs!

The rubber letters have notches to align letters correctly and hold themselves in place. Many letters were still connected in sets, such as these, while in the type case.

Here the metal notches can been seen on the side of the stamp. Rubber letters with corresponding notches slide into the metal rows.

Rubber letters and spacers placed into the stamp.

It’s easy! Instructions booklet included in kit.

Based on this booklet, accessories were available, including other fonts/sizes and true type cases.

As if the stamps were not amazing enough, a letterpress exists out there that will print my rubber letters. You can bet I’m going to find it!

3 thoughts on “You too can rubber letterpress! Wait, what?”

  1. Eric D
     ·  Reply

    I saw one of these when I was shopping in my neighborhood recently: http://tinyurl.com/4xx5zkm. I was told it didn’t function, but the store Roost (http://www.roostchicago.com) in my neighborhood always has stuff like this. There’s also a fun shop at Foster and Ashland in Chicago that may tickle your fancy. They have lots of old toys and boardgames. Get on up here!

    • admin
       ·  Reply

      Very cool Eric! Next time I’m up in Chicago I will definitely hit up these places!

  2. Ashley Hawkins
     ·  Reply

    Loved the blog post! I like the way your photographed those little letters…I LOVE photos in blogs 🙂

    Happy Monday!

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