This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Rubber stamp" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (July 2007) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A rubber stamp, and the message stamped by it
Ink pad from second half of the 20th century, in the Museo del Objeto del Objeto collection

A rubber stamp is an image or pattern that has been carved, molded, laser engraved, or vulcanized onto a sheet of rubber. Rubber stamping, also called stamping, is a craft in which some type of ink made of dye or pigment is applied to a rubber stamp, and used to make decorative images on some media, such as paper or fabric.


A rubber stamp uses a raised-relief image molded into a sheet of rubber, often mounted onto a more stable object such as a wood, brick, or an acrylic block. For compactness, the vulcanized rubber image with an adhesive foam backing may be attached to a cling vinyl sheet which allows it to be used with an acrylic handle for support. These cling rubber stamps can be stored in a smaller amount of space, and typically cost less than the wood-mounted versions. They can also be positioned with a greater amount of accuracy due to the stamper's ability to see through the handle being used.

The ink-coated rubber stamp is pressed onto any type of medium such that the colored image is transferred to the medium. The medium is generally some type of fabric or paper. Other media used are wood, metal, glass, plastic, and rock. High-volume batik uses liquid wax instead of ink, with a metal stamp.

There are three distinct types of rubber stamp inking technology: traditional, where the pad is in a separate container from the stamp; self-inking stamps, which have a self-contained die that rests against the pad until the die is flipped 180 degrees to make an imprint; and pre-inked stamps, where the die material itself is actually impregnated with the ink.

Commercially available rubber stamps are marketed in three categories: stationery stamps for use in the office, stamps used for decorating objects, or those used as children's toys.

Business rubber stamps

With modern laser-engraving technology, personalized rubber stamps can be made in minutes.

Rubber stamps for business commonly show an address, corporate logo and business registration number.[1] Some stamps also have movable parts that allow the user to adjust the date or the wording of the stamp. They are used to date incoming mail, as well as to denote special handling for documents. In some countries it is common practice for formal documents such as contracts to be rubber-stamped[2] over the signature as additional evidence of authenticity. The objective is to authenticate the contracts, prevent forging, and increases efficiency as company executives do not have to separately sign individual company documents.

Business stamps are generally available from stationers or direct from the manufacturer. Popular stamps include address stamps, standard word stamps such as received or payment due, and dater stamps. These stamps make up almost 30% sold annually.[3]

Other applications

Bureaucratic rubber stamps displayed in the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, in Vilnius, Lithuania

Rubber stamps are used beyond the business and office world. Applications range from education to marking animals to the food and drinks industry. A few are listed below:

Automated "rubber stamp" images

Document marking can be done from within the user's word processor. This can be done manually by creating the "stamps" to appear on the documents in automated document marking software for Microsoft Word. This allows each page to be stamped as it is printed with the user-selected images created electronically.[citation needed]

As an art form

Contour stamp
A toy rubber stamp featuring a pterosaur
Fabrication of stamp by photopolymer method
Ink pad "Barock Made in East Germany" (c.1960), in the collection of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen

Materials besides rubber can produce a stamp. Woodcut and linocut, the carving of linoleum, are art forms based on the same principles. Linoleum is a harder material than rubber and requires additional pressure to carve. Woodcut is used by experienced artists, requiring both talent and patience[5]. Rubber carving materials are often similar to that of linoleum and woodcut, such as sharp cutting heads, V and U tools[6] Temporary stamps with simple designs can be carved from a potato or other semi-rigid food item.

Furthermore, photopolymer stamps are gaining popularity. They are most often produced in a set of coordinated images using a clear polymer material on an acetate carrier sheet for storage and packaging. The stamps are peeled from the carrier sheet and applied to a clear acrylic handle. This allows the stamper to view the image through the handle and effect precise placement of the image where desired. Photopolymer stamps are generally produced in the United States for sale domestically and internationally. Silicone stamps have many of the same properties of the photopolymer stamps. The creation of clear stamps facilitates the storage of a sizeable image collection, as they can all be used with a single set of handles of various sizes. They are also often very economical, being produced in sets of several images which work together to form a cohesive look.

Various methods can alter the appearance of carved stamps. Paints, pigments, and dye inks create different effects, extending the use of rubber stamping from paper to fabrics, wood, metal, glass, and so on[7]. Ink pads can be purchased that allow for embossing, and there are markers that can be used to ink stamp pads with colors for a multi-color look. The use of rubber stamps can be combined with other materials. The image may be embellished by the addition of chalks, inks, paints, fibers, and a variety of other ephemera and embellishments.

Hand-carved rubber stamps find frequent use in mail art or artist trading cards, as they are typically small and allow the creation of a series of images. The TAM Rubber Stamp Archive[8] has a collection of prints of rubber stamps mail-artists have used since 1983. Stamping is also often used in handmade cardmaking, scrapbooking, and letterboxing.

Stamping communities

Stamping has become a very popular home-based craft, and there are a number of forums, some with many thousands of members. Craft stampers tend to be associated with other paper crafts, such as card making and scrapbooking.[9][10]

Periodical publications for the stamping community have included RubberStampMadness, Creative Stamping, Rubber Stamper, and The Stampers' Sampler Magazine. The latter two periodicals appear to have stopped publishing.

See also


  1. ^ "What is a Company Stamp?". Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Directorate of Registration and Stamp Revenue". Archived from the original on 2020-08-10. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  3. ^ Davies, Kyle (1 January 2014). "Stamps4u". Stamps 4 U. Archived from the original on 6 January 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  4. ^ "Noris-Color GmbH - Food marking ink". Archived from the original on 2020-08-06. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  5. ^ Aronson, Irene (May 1960). "The Historic Woodcut". Design. 61 (5): 191–193. doi:10.1080/00119253.1960.10744042. ISSN 0011-9253.
  6. ^ "Linoleum Block Printing". Design. 54 (4): 99–101. January 1953. doi:10.1080/00119253.1953.10743323. ISSN 0011-9253.
  7. ^ Lauren, Andrea (2016-05-15). Block Print: Everything You Need to Know for Printing with Lino Blocks, Rubber Blocks, Foam Sheets, and Stamp Sets. Rockport Publishers. ISBN 978-1-63159-113-6.
  8. ^ "TAM Rubber Stamp Archive - NETHERLANDS". Retrieved 2024-02-19.
  9. ^ Scrapbook Update. "Splitcoast Stampers Sold". Archived from the original on 2010-02-28. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  10. ^ TradingMarkets. "Internet Brands acquires". Archived from the original on 2010-09-06.