by Thomas Beckman
stamps are an early form of trademarks or logotypes, produced between
1850 and 1880 for use by merchants, manufacturers, service providers,
and institutions. Called "stamps" originally, these corporate identity
emblems were nicknamed "cameos" by modern collectors due to the
embossing present on many examples. Simultaneously embossed and
color printed from brass dies, cameo stamps are most often found
on envelopes, billheads, business cards, and as advertisements in
city directories and related publications.
Blue is six or seven times more popular than green or red, the
next most frequent colors. Imagery usually features a manufacturer's
or merchant's products, machinery, or building, but text-only examples
are also common. All cameo stamps are tightly bordered, often with
cartouche-like frames. About forty percent of cameo stamps are signed
by their diesinkers, the most prolific being William Eaves of New
York and the McClement Brothers and Thomas B. Calvert of Philadelphia.
They, and dozens of others, made cameo stamps for customers in all
parts of the country, as well as Canada, which had several cameo
stamp diesinkers of its own.
Illustrations in this article are from the extensive cameo collection
of Jose L. Rodriguez, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.