asking for trouble

Holiday Souvenirs – Brass Rubbing & Embossing

One of my favourite souvenirs from my Japan trips are the stamps we collected at tourist sights, train stations and other random places. It really adds an extra bit of fun to your trip looking out for new ones. Here’s some from my 2016 trip.

brass rubbing and embossing

I’ve often lamented that you could never do this in the UK as the stamps would get stolen or the ink pads would dry out. I was very surprised and pleased to find a brass rubbing trail on the Isle of May and an embossing trail at the V&A in Dundee.

Isle of May brass rubbing

Of course, I immediately started collecting them. The Isle of May ones are a similar size to Japanese stamps but brass rubbing is definitely more difficult to do. The brass signs are mostly out in the open and it’s hard to get the placement right. I didn’t realise how well hidden they were until after The Priory – and then it was too wet to go back.

Isle of May brass rubbing

I was thinking they’d be like Japan (and the first one at the information centre), set out with everything you need but you were supposed to take a crayon around the island with you. Can you tell which one I did with a rusted lump of metal before I could go back for a crayon? (it’s the South Horn foghorn).

Isle of May brass rubbing

The puffin one was supposedly “dead easy” to find but I spent ages looking and eventually found it covered in plants. I guess it’s not that popular with visitors! We also found a brass rubbing trail about squirrels at the Pillars of Hercules – a cafe/shop/campsite near Falkland – but we didn’t have time to do that.

V&A Dundee embossing

At the V&A they had something a little easier – embossing. This is a clever way to do things as the embossing machines are quite small and don’t require any ink/crayons etc. You just have to push the lever very hard. You can see the Falkirk Wheel and a moth above. I managed to get all of these as the exhibition space is quite small and everything is numbered.

Top marks to both places for coming up with a fun souvenir idea. I know I’ll be happy to come across these in my box of ephemera someday in the future.


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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