Date stamps

The simple pleasures of marking time

My first real job after graduating from college was working the reference desk at a public library, so it makes me chuckle whenever I post artwork or diary pages online how often people ask me about my date stamps:

I have 4 date stamps here in the studio: my favorite is a cheap, self-inking Miseyo, my least favorite was purchased from Office Depot in the middle of a book tour, and the other two are of unknown origin (probably stolen from the supply closet of one of my former employers):

As quaint or as outdated as date stamps may seem in our digital age, lots of different professions still use them, so they’re available at pretty much any office supply store. (I’ve been thinking about upgrading to one of these bad boys.)


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If you poke around, you can find stamp websites that will make a custom one with your name, logo, etc.

I’m not the only nerd who loves them. The sketchbook pages in this video of Mo Willems are covered in date stamps. (Rivka Galchen’s New Yorker profile of Willems lists them as prominent items in his studio.) Some artists even use date stamps to make the art itself.

Kids love date stamps. I have my kids date stamp their drawings, and I add a stamp with their first initial, just in case the drawings get mixed up. Sometimes date stamps are a handy way to trick them into writing or keeping a diary or doing their homework.

If you buy a date stamp (this one looks cheap and decent), watch for how many years are left on the stamp! If you wind up with a stamp that’s out-of-date, you can often squeeze a few more years out of it by slicing a few columns of numbers off using an x-acto knife. (See above.)

Happy stamping! Fellow stamp nerds, leave a comment and let us know which kind you love and how you use yours…

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