Stamp holder | Ding des Monats June 2022

Thing of the Month June 2022
Stamp holder

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Stamp holder, Jakob Maul, collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, photo: Armin Herrmann.

This object is two things of order in one: the stamps provide documents with an identification, the holder brings order to their accumulation. This stamp holder was developed by the Jakob Maul company, one of Germany's leading office supply brands, founded in 1912 in the Odenwald region. 
The stamp with its rubber underside is an example of how closely the order of modern bureaucracy is linked to that of the modern – Western-dominated – global economy. The rubber of the tools, which besides official certification and authentication also meant an enormous facilitation in the daily traffic of letters and goods, did not come from Europe or North America, but was obtained under the cruelest conditions in European colonies in Africa and Asia starting in the 19th century. It was the American Charles Goodyear – after whom one of today's largest tire companies is named – who in 1839 accidentally found the combination of sulfur and raw rubber which maintained its shape even in high heat. He named the process "vulcanization" after Vulcanus, the ancient god of fire.
The cultural influence of the technology of the stamp can also be seen in linguistic images that are still in use today and have survived despite increasing digitalization: to label someone (in German: "jemanden abstempeln") means to endow a person with a negative quality and to put one's mark/stamp on something (in German: "etwas seinen Stempel aufdrücken") expresses the effectiveness of the stampers.
The object is part of our current special exhibition ORGANIZING THINGS, which is on display until October 31, 2022.