Eleven years ago we opened The Firecracker Press in a small studio in downtown St. Louis. We knew some of the history that surrounded us… old buildings, a legacy of printers along Washington Avenue, a naive knowledge of manufacturing. Occasionally we’d drive down the street to get a rubber stamp made at Barnard Stamp Co. where we could see composing stands filled with type behind the counter. We had no idea that they were the oldest rubber stamp company West of the Mississippi, or that their history stretched back to 1860. Eventually we’d get invited behind the counter at Barnard Stamp with an offer to let us rifle through their collection. Being nerds we were thrilled to see behind the scenes, but it would be many years before we would play an active roll in their company’s history.

Earlier this week we acquired the remainder of the lead-type, cabinetry, and tools from Barnard Stamp Co. Many of the typefaces tell the story of the founding days of St. Louis, and looking through the cuts and tools is like peeling back time. Some of the typecases and cabinetry are homemade, others were professionally manufactured, but all were painted battleship grey after an ex-employee, a Navy man, returned home from the war. We’ll begin cleaning the collection and cataloging everything over the remainder of the year. Everything will be put to good use and find its way onto new posters, books, business cards, and stationery… these tools were made for work!

If you’re interested in seeing the collection or finding out more information give us a call at (314)776-7271. You can get more info about Barnard Stamp Co. here, or visit their shop and have a custom stamp made anytime.

- Barnard Stamp Company, started in 1860, is still family owned today
- The collection we acquired weighs about two tons and fit neatly into a 16’ moving truck, side to side, top to bottom