Friday, 2 March 2012

The art of rubber stamping

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The only American I knew as a child was the school librarian - Mr Tucker.

A very tall man, balding, thin, dignified and with a slow deep voice (albeit a New Yorker, I think - trained in the Library of Congress, so he told us).

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For us he embodied in living form the whole of the United States - on July 4th or similar days he was metaphorically wheeled-out in front of school assembly in order to explain the significance. In this context he was the first person to read me Robert Frost - Mending Wall.

I can recall a short comic item in the school revue (dedicated to gentle mockery of all and sundry) in which we were invited to stand and salute A Great American with a slide projected onto the back wall of the theatre and some suitably grandiose Yankee tune.

In place of the expected Washington, Lincoln or Neil Armstrong we, of course, saw a gigantic photo of Mr Tucker sitting in his Librarian's booth...


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Mr Tucker had made an art form from his business of rubber stamping books with the return date.

It was hypnotic to observe.

First he placed the book in front, the pad of ink was to his left.

He would press the rubber date stamp gently onto the pad, then place the date stamp exactly between the lines on the paper slip, exactly below the mark from the previous date stamp, remove the date stamp by elevating vertically with zero lateral movement...

- then blot the ink, close the book and hand it to the transfixed schoolboy.

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If you can make an art form from rubber stamping, you can make an art form out of anything: which is true.

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