Object Record

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Object Name Stamp, Letterhead
Subject Domestic Life
Postal Service
Category 10: Unclassifiable Artifacts
Sub-category Need to Classify
Accession Number 1973.035.285
Donor Anthony Taulbut
Description Stamp "Letterhead" Chinese printing. Heavy metal with wooden handle - 16 1/2" long. Used by a Chinese club " Flower Moon" as their insignia.

Provenance Commonplace in East Asia, the letterhead stamp was used instead of a written signature at the bottom of letters or official documents. Made out of metal and wood with Mandarin characters imprinted on the bottom, this particular letterhead stamp is from a Chinese society called the "Flower Moon Society." Beginning in the third century BCE, a person's fingerprint was used as a personal stamp on any official documents by pressing the finger into clay and then printed on paper. Records exist of letterhead stamps being used in China in 554 BCE. Originally, seals were mainly used by officials or members of the Chinese Royalty and were made out of jade. Later, seals were made out of stone, metal, wood, bamboo, plastic, or ivory. By being dipped into red ink or cinnabar paste and then stamped on paper, a business or association could brand their identity on any official document. This particular stamp is an example of a Zhuwen seal, where the characters are imprinted in red ink. These stamps are still used today, and seal carving and engraving is a well-develop art form in the countries of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The skill takes many years to master, and professionals are sought after for their precise and beautiful artistry.