Monday, August 17

Grandmother's Wooden Stamps

Last year I visited my grandfather in Idaho. One thing I always looked forward to in visiting my grandparents was rummaging through their books and creative supplies. I always had a set of favorite books I needed to find again and reread, and I also looked forward to finding new material that perhaps I wasn't hold enough to appreciate in years previous.

Last year's trip was no different, except I was about 30 years older. I found my old favorite children's books and reminisced over the feelings that these illustrations and stories made me feel. There was a giddy magical feeling to them, in that they only seemed to exist at my grandparents' house. I was not just separated from them by geography: even as a child I knew these books were representative of an entirely different generation from my own.

But this time I dug through the office supplies with intent to chronicle, and I was amazed at what I found. I'll post various of these pictures as we go along, but right now I'll only mention the cork stamps. I think they were cork, or else carved out of some other very soft, light wood. They were manufactured in India, according to their markings, and their surfaces were deeply dark and dyed from dozens of uses.

They were simple floral stylistic designs. I didn't know their exact purpose but I imagine they decorated the corners of pages of writing paper, in a letter to a friend, or the backs of envelopes. Really they could've been stamped anywhere, and a child would have stamped them anywhere, but if an adult had a set of these stamps, I tried to imagine when and why they would use them.


Vanessa said...

What a brilliant idea to carve stamps from cork. Why didn't I think of that? :) I was curious if they're cork or something else, so I did some Googling and found a good bit of history on this page: Maybe they're teak?

Christian said...

Could easily be teak. I don't know for a fact that it's cork: it only felt light in my hand but coarser than balsa. Good research on your part! I hadn't thought to look up their backstory or anything.