Making a stamp from moveable type?

Has anyone had success with ‘stamping’ type?

I am currently producing an engraving of 28 species of British bumblebees: queens and drones. I have managed to print a numbered key along side the 56 bumblebees. But am now wondering how I would number each of the bumblebees? I’ve attempted taping the type for ‘XXVIII.’ (no. 28) together and stamping it onto the paper. But with varied success, I’m worried about numbering all 56 bees and not getting a perfect impression with all the numbers. I can imagine setting the type to print beneath each bee to be a registration nightmare, as each bee has its own individual plate.

Would there be a tried tested method?

Below is trial proof of the image (queens only so far - drones to be added later). Paper size approx 47cm accross.

With thanks,


image: pastedGraphic.png


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Hello Andrew,

This looks like a wonderful project.

It would help to know what kind of press you’re using, but I’m assuming it’s a large hand press or cylinder press because of the size of your paper. How were the bees printed?

To me, trying to make stamps out of movable type seems like a more horrific nightmare than setting all the numbers into one form and printing them, all at the same time, onto the sheet on which the bees have already been printed. This way you could print the numbered key at the same time, and all of your text would have the same print quality and would be lined up squarely.

I’ve had success with registering projects like this by first laying out the design, rather precisely, on a hand- or computer-drawn template. In addition to making a paper template, I make one on acetate. Here are some photos that show how I’ve done it:[email protected]/3275050425/in/set-7215760223469... (and the following few photos)

I’d love to hear from some of the more experienced printers. I’m a newbie who’s reinvented a number of wheels.


Hello Barbara,

Thanks for your reply. I pulled the engravings on an etching press and the type on my old proofing press (shown here if I can manage to upload it). Perhaps I’m just being lazy - I’d have to construct quite a lot of furniture to set the numbers in place - maybe that’s what I’ll have to do. With the stamp idea I used a block of wood to locate the type and then tapped it with another block - sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. So to get all 28 numbers working could be difficult?


image: pastedGraphic.png


I’m chuckling, Andrew, because I, too, am afflicted with laziness. I’ve found that good letterpress printing practice is an excellent cure for this condition. :-)


You could do the layout of the individual numbers and key on the computer, print it on acetate to lay over the printed engraving to check registration, and once correct have a magnesium or copper cut made. That would avoid handsetting and give you consistant results every time.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ