Friday, September 28, 2007

The Sengbusch Ideal Junior Stamp Moistener

sengbusch ideal junior stamp moistener
When I was a kid, my Dad had some items on his office desk which just fascinated me. One of them was a small black ceramic dealie, more or less cubical, with a black ceramic wheel which turned inside of it. The Sengbusch Ideal Junior stamp moistener. Idea was, you'd pour a little water down into the well inside the cube, and then when you turned the wheel, the surface of the wheel would come up wet with water from underneath. So then you could run the back side of a postage stamp across the top of the wheel, and voilà!

Sure beat having to lick the stamp, especially if you needed to put a bunch of stamps on a whole stack of envelopes. Even if it was only a single stamp, hey, mucilage, you don't know where that horse hoof has been. I always thought this stamp moistener was a really neat idea. Funky. Plus, it was ingenious but simple. Simple enough that the ancient Romans, or for that matter the ancient Sumerians, could've invented it, if only they'd had postage stamps.

My Dad's stamp moistener had a little chip out of it. When I was two years old, he lent the stamp moistener out to somebody, and they dropped it on the floor. Oops!

Well, one day not long before I moved over here to Iowa, I was out at a Goodwill store, and what should I see amidst the bric a brac on their shelves but a stamp moistener identical to my Dad's. Without a chip, even! Black ceramic. I turned it over, and between the four little feet on the unglazed underside it read SENGBUSCH IDEAL JUNIOR MILWAUKEE, WIS. MADE IN U.S.A. What's more, they were selling it for only 39¢, mere pocket change. I snatched it up, and when I moved here to Iowa, I put my Sengbusch stamp moistener on my office desk.

Only problem was, I quickly discovered that the US Postal Service had changed over completely to non-mucilage peel-and-stick sticker type postage stamps. Just when this happened, I don't know: I hadn't been sending many letters in the several years before I moved over here (long story). Something of a disappointment: no sooner did I find my own cool black ceramic Sengbusch Ideal Junior stamp moistener, than I learn it's now obsolete.

Nonetheless, it still sits on my desk. Some items are just too cool to discard. In defiance of so-called "progress." Call me a Selective Luddite™, but when we let go of horse-hoof mucilage stamps, and ceramic quasi-Sumerian stamp moisteners, we let go of a little piece of our souls.



Blogger The Tetrast said...

Maybe you could still use it for envelopes.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 6:54:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Hey, that's an idea. Now why didn't I think of that?! Eight years that thing has been sitting on my desk, and never once did I think of that...

Saturday, September 29, 2007 7:43:00 PM  
Blogger Richmond said...

I think it looks brilliant. How fantastic! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2007 6:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now that is cool...

Monday, October 01, 2007 3:26:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

they also work very nicely to moisten your finger(s) while sorting papers =D

Thursday, August 21, 2008 10:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know this was something so hard to buy and when I started using one in an old office it fell and broke so I just took the last one and yeasterday it fell and broke. Now I really want one and I find out they are antiques and offfice supply stores don't carry them and the plastic ones are not as good (sigh)

Thursday, January 01, 2009 4:30:00 PM  
Anonymous sbbledsoe said...

the plastic ones are not as good (sigh)

are they ever? sad. i think these are cool, too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 8:20:00 AM  
Blogger On the Intellect of said...

Thanks to you for sharing this memory! My father has been searching for one for the passed two months since his broke. I remember playing with his with my barbies when I was a kid. I never knew what it was called and how to even start to find it. I was able to locate a few on Ebay and finally an "IDL" brand version on Amazon! Thanks again!

Thursday, March 25, 2010 5:48:00 PM  
Blogger Vierte said...

In my mid 50's now, I used this label moistener at just about every company during my secrearial years. My supervisor had one that was double-wide, for her hundreds of 9x12 envelope mailings. I onlyy saw white. Also, they needed cleaning at day's end because envelope glue on the roller became a tad slimy afer an hours rolling. Good purchase. Nice memories.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still have my father's and still use it - for envelopes. The one I have is white.

Thursday, December 29, 2011 4:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one I use at work. After 2 years here, I finally looked it up online today. I thought we must have had the only one in the world since I had never seen one before (ours is white). I work at an Extnsion office so we do lots of bulk mailing. It works wonders when you have over 200 envelopes to seal!!

Friday, January 13, 2012 8:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tuesday, January 17, 2012 7:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

vancouver,b.c. said:-

I found ours in the basement of our 37 year old house that we have lived in for that length of time.

I brought it upstairs and showed my husband. ``I used to use that to count the money at the bank``. He said. I knew it as a water resivoir for wetting older type stamps. I replied. Great little antique.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one. It is white and I use it to moisten and seal envelopes. Works just as well for that purpose. Love it.

Friday, September 12, 2014 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Using it for envelopes are great, especially for Christmas Cards. Also try using it for thread reinforced paper packaging tape. Great seal to use for mailing gifts. I love my water wheel. I acquired mine when the sewing company, next door to our printing company, had gone out of business in 1988. My children tried to throw it away--I caught them--they said, Mom you don't need this thing--Oh yes I do! So..when they're working on their Christmas Cards, I say to them, laughing, lick away kiddies. They give me the know that look. Ha Ha

Monday, November 26, 2018 5:52:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just picked mine up as well... well kind found it in a dumpster at work lol. Tho it's not the fancy black color as yours but I thought it was a pretty sweet find maybe it will hit a envelope some day maybe it shall sit idle on a shelf or desk as yours does.... cheers

Thursday, September 19, 2019 9:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a green one at our Museum. They are a nice piece of history. Nice article!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020 4:25:00 PM  

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