Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Facts on stamps have stuck with area residents

A couple of recent essays in this space elicited such heart-warming responses by way of the ubiquitous email system that my heart was summarily warmed when I read them.

It will require at least two further columns to further address those topics, so I will proceed to them in this order: First (today), no-lick stamps, and then (possibly next Sunday if I am so inclined), Mentor folks who could be invited to speak on the subject of the great village-township merger that took place in 1963.

I recently spoke of some favorite inventions, the smallest of them being postage stamps you don’t have to lick because you can simply peel them off a sheet of waxed paper.

I find it a sublime irony that all the responses I received on the subject arrived by email, which means they were delivered electronically, thus obviating the necessity for a postage stamp of the new-style peel-off variety, let alone the old-fashioned lick-and-paste variety. The glue doesn’t taste so great anyway, so I am a fan of peel-off stamps.

First I heard from Nancy Doremus of Grand River, who was aware of the Fasson and Avery Dennison connection to the stamps.

“They were created in the late ’70s,” she wrote, “and my children’s father, who worked at Fasson then, gave them each a sheet of stamps from the first run. Hopefully, they still have them.”

Your kids are no longer kids, Nancy, and you know how kids are about not saving things that might someday be collectors’ items.

But the peel-off stamp story was just warming up. I got a lengthy e-mail from Jon Kline (address unknown) who spoke of the local connection to stamps you don’t have to lick.

“The base material, pressure sensitive adhesive, is/was made in Painesville at Fasson. Today it is called Avery-Dennison. It makes the roll material (generally 52 inches wide) consisting of a face stock to which the adhesive is applied, and a backing or release paper (the “waxy paper” you throw away.)

“The laminate roll material can then be slit down to thinned rolls or be cut into sheets, printed, die-cut to size (perforation style, in your case) and used to make anything from stamps to Chiquita banana labels.”

I was beginning to get the picture. Jon knows whereof he speaks.

“The inventor of the process of manufacturing pressure sensitive adhesives and the founder of Fasson was Stan Avery (in his garage) and  he opened a factory in his home state of California. Wanting a more eastern or mid-western presence, he opened a factory in Painesville.

“I would contact one of your classmates, Ed Murray. He was plant manager at Fasson and should know more of the details and history. He would also be a more authoritative source.”

I have known Ed Murray for a few years — since grade school at McKinley Elementary. And I didn’t have to call him. He read the column in the paper and was the next person to email me.
He spoke of the “strong local connection to the ‘no lick’ postage stamp.”

“The peel-and-stick industry was founded by R. Stanton ‘Stan’ Avery of California in the mid 1930s,” Ed wrote. “Others who entered the industry had to buy their raw materials from Avery. This arrangement was not popular with Mr. Avery’s competitors.”

In the mid 1930s, Ed recalled, a man with ties to Hudson, Ohio, approached Avery with an idea: Build an “arm’s length factory” in Ohio to supply the raw materials for the rest of the self-stick label industry.

“Mr. Avery ‘bought’ the concept,” according to Ed, “and in 1955 a factory and research laboratory was opened in Painesville. It was named Fasson. From this rather meager beginning Fasson, part of the Avery-Dennison Corp., has operations throughout the world.

“Seven factories are in Lake County, plus a major headquarters building and research laboratory is located in Mentor. The material for the self-stick postage stamp was developed in Painesville by Fasson.”

Ed added: “I went to work at Fasson as an engineer in January 1960 and retired in June 1991. I was privileged to have worked with Stan Avery on several of his pet projects.”

Funny, but when I knew Ed Murray at Willoughby Union High, I knew for sure he would amount to something. And he did.


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