Ever since I used my first numbering stamp as a schoolboy, these clever mechanical devices have fascinated me. I now print one on every piece that leaves our workshop, even though they are really difficult to print on a proof press. They require a lot of pressure and the plunger will eventually destroy the cylinder because it is much higher than type and will also print on the trip back (if you don’t understand this jargon, this may not be for you).

Which didn’t stop me from trying to build a forme with 60 of these little suckers. It’ll take a lot of arrangement, adjusting the makeready and other parameters to get them all to print fairly evenly, but I am not going to give up easily. These photos are from the first run which hasn’t yielded any presentable results so far.

The cool thing will be that every time it prints, all 60 stamps will rotate by one digit. Every print will be randomly unique.

(the two top pictures are by Max Zerrahn)
First proof


  1. Dear Erik,
    One trick with numbering machines on a proof press is to remove one of the two springs from the inside. Like this they dont leave that much impression on the packing…
    But: Be aware that sometimes after this modification they don’t do the 2-and-more digits jumps at 99, 199, 299 and so on… They might need a little help with this… I did some posters that I numbered and in for example an edition of 150 there are 5 number 99’s… Haha. I always keep some modified and some unmodified ones around.
    Best wishes. Dafi

    1. erik

      Thanks, Dafi. I know that trick, but so far I’ve been too lazy to take all 60 out again. But I have to rearrange them anyway, so I’ll do that next week. And I’m not worried about numbers above 99, as I won’t print that many and as this is all about randomness. Doesn’t have to be sequential. I haven’t touch any of them, except accidentally. They just show whatever number comes up. As long as they all change with every print …

  2. Alexander Nagel

    Whow, looks good now. Noch lange zugerichtet?
    Grüße …

    PS:: hab ich dir schon gesagt, dass ich im deutschen Shutterstock-Blog eine monatliche Kolzmne habe?

    1. erik

      Das war schon letzte Woche. Mache erst nächste Woche weiter..

  3. Alexander Nagel

    … natürlich »Kolumne« … Typografische Notizen!

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