Old MULTIPOST STAMP AFFIXER Pat. 1911 w/ Key, Counter! - eBay (item 310018326097 end time Feb-03-08 17:49:48 PST)
This vintage stamp affixer is marked, "Multipost, Commercial Controls, Rochester 2, N.Y." The knob is marked, "Don't Strike, Push" and it's fun to push the knob down. The counter advances one click each time. Down by the keyhole is a list of six patent numbers with more pending.
Stamp affixers were invented to serve two purposes. First, they mechanized the process of affixing stamps to letters. Second, they made it more difficult for employees to steal stamps. This model was patented in 1911 and advertised from 1910 to 1940 according to the site listed below.
According to a vintage advertisement for a similar device, a Postamper, "One stroke of the plunger affixes the stamp and also counts it. A measured drop of water moistens the envelope and a rubber cushion presses the stamp to the moistened surface. Double lock safeguards your stamps. One for the cashier who puts in the stamps--the other for the operator, so that no stamps can be taken without his knowledge."
This affixer has one key which opens it to allow reloading. I don't see how to reset the counter. The black knob on the front turns, but doesn't do anything I can see.
The key is a bit fiddley to work, then springs the thing open like magic. Inside you can pull a spool out to insert a roll of stamps. There's another small piece that comes out. It might be a guide you slide the stamps behind. The counter device is out of sight and I don't see how the stamps were moistened.
For more information and other photos of vintage stamp affixers, visit http://www.earlyofficemuseum.com/mail_machines.htm
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