Looking for those inkless, perforating library stamps.
December 2, 2013 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Sometimes, one of the first pages of a library book will bear an identifying stamp made of perforations punched through by a special tool. This practice seems to have disappeared, and Googling for it has only frustrated me. What is the tool called and where can I find one?

I've never seen the tool in question but I can infer that it is shaped like a stapler or a notary sealer, with a block of needles or nails arranged into a pattern on one side, and a block of corresponding holes on the other.

And, in case I need to DIY it, can anybody link to an image of the tool itself, or of a page in a book that has been perforated by one?
posted by viewofdelft to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Embossing seals?

ETA: Pocket seals
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:35 PM on December 2, 2013

This kind of perforated letter thing? I think it's called a Perfoset machine. More detail [PDF]
posted by pocams at 1:42 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I imagine the tool itself looks like an embosser. But instead of creating relief, it punches a bunch of tiny holes clean through the page.
posted by viewofdelft at 1:44 PM on December 2, 2013

Best answer: Here's a picture of one. Clicking through to the flickr page with the old library catalog it seems to have just been called a "perforating stamp."

I work in library technical services (we are the library department who performs physical processing of books) and have never seen one in real life. I just looked through our library supply catalogs and could not find one for sale (though embossing stamps are still sold).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:44 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

My building department has one, which will "write" the permit number through every sheet of the approved set of plans. It's more of a document control thing than anything else - when the inspector goes out to the building site he needs to see the "perf set", and any sheets in that set that aren't perforated haven't been approved so he doesn't consider them valid.

The machine looks sort of like a time clock, IIRC, and can only handle about 20 sheets at a time. Based on the sound it makes, it seems like it might be more of drill thing than needles or nails.
posted by LionIndex at 1:51 PM on December 2, 2013

Best answer: Perforating Stamp—What Is It? (scroll down; brief history). Bigger image courtesy of...Jessamyn? Huh.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:56 PM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think you might mean embossing seal. I have one and this is what mine looks like. (it's called a desk embossing seal, the one I have, and it was made by that company). There are a bunch of other types that that company makes, one of which might jog your memory.
posted by urbanlenny at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2013

Ugh, I feel you, OP. I want a personalized one of those SO BAD.
posted by redsparkler at 7:20 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. The images were most helpful. As I suspected, used perforators are difficult to find and prohibitively expensive to purchase new (with customized lettering).

I'll probably try to DIY one using an old cast-iron embossing stamp ($15 on eBay) retrofitted with -- and here's where it could get time-consuming -- corresponding blocks of wood, including one with nails poking through on one side to form letters.
posted by viewofdelft at 6:20 AM on December 3, 2013

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