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Flashback Friday Part 2: The 1980s

by Hero Arts April 26, 2019 124 Comments

Happy Friday! It's time for our second Flashback Friday feature. In this series we are sharing the story of our five decades as a company. (You can catch up by rewinding to the 1970s if you missed last week's post.) Now we journey into Hero Arts' second decade in business - the 1980s! Here is CEO Aaron Leventhal with some insight:

"In the 1980s, the budding Hero Arts moved out of the bathroom and into a garage, and evolved its look from the cartoon look into teddy bears, country folk, bookplates, kitties, and more. Coloring with pens (Hero Arts carried Marvy brush pens) and embossing were the most popular techniques. There were only a limited number of ink colors -- black, brown, red, blue, green -- before "exciting and new" colors like hot pink and purple hit the industry by storm. Only woodblock stamps for the most part, with a few businesses selling unmounted, Hero Arts was at the forefront of the growing stamp industry, with competitors such as All Night Media, Rubber Stampede, Personal Stamp Exchange, and others."

Let's take a look at some of the catalogs from the 1980s!

You can see how the styles evolved from the early part of the decade (at left) to the later part (at right.)

Hero Arts Founder Jackie Leventhal penned the following introduction which appeared in the 1980 catalog:

Some things never change. "It's amazing what has happened since I began this romance with rubber stamps..." Indeed!

And some things do change. While the woodblock stamps of today are indexed with labels, that wasn't always the case. From 1974-1986 we handstamped images right onto the top of the block! This was how we indexed all stamps until introducing labels in 1987. These cute bears with numbers were made in 1983:

1, 2, 3, come stamp with me!

Do you have a bear or cat stamp in your collection? Both were wildly popular during the 1980s! Let us know in a comment below and we will pick one winner at random to receive a $25 Hero Arts gift card! Comment by Thursday, May 2 at 11:59pm PT and you'll be entered to win.

Thanks for traveling back in time with us today. Be sure to join us on Instagram for more 45th Anniversary fun and use hashtag #herocelebrates45 to share your first Hero Arts stamps and memories!





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100 Responses

Meghan Fahey
Meghan Fahey

May 24, 2019

I have at least 30 cat stamps and a scattered bear, but definitely nothing from before 2004. Just bought your knitting cat stamps a few days ago to add to my collection! 💌

LiZ Baker
LiZ Baker

May 16, 2019

I have a cute set of Hero Art kitten stamps. They are so cute and tiny

jennifer
jennifer

May 05, 2019

cat stamps have always a favorite here!

Joyce Soo Hoo
Joyce Soo Hoo

May 05, 2019

I have a lot of Hero Arts stamps from the 1980’s. Bears and cats stamps were soooo cute .

MandaLJ
MandaLJ

May 03, 2019

No bear or cat stamps in my collection, but I discovered Hero Arts many years after they started, sad to say.

Sherri
Sherri

May 02, 2019

I have many bear stamps. I have a soft spot for bears. I sure wish I had these!

MarjR
MarjR

May 01, 2019

I love the stamps! I don’t have them, I started stamping in 2010. But I have bought a LOT of Hero Arts stamp since then!!

Leola M Johnston
Leola M Johnston

May 01, 2019

I have been a lover oh Hero Arts for a long time! Started with a Costco white plastic drawer unit, said "When I have this full I am not buying any more! " Ha Ha I love paper crafting and now have a double car garage full and I would have to say at least 1/4 of my stamps are Hero Arts. I always tried to support the local stores first but not many around any more🙁 Love that we are online and see your classes on them. Thanks so much for a great ride!!! Ps I still have some of the first stamps

Jeanne
Jeanne

April 30, 2019

I have so many bears, but not this adorable numbers set. So cute!

Jennifer Petersen
Jennifer Petersen

April 30, 2019

I have a couple of bear stamps gift to me as a child in the 80’s sadly not Hero arts brand from what I can tell. So fun to see these cute bears and remember teachers and friends parents who used them.

Heather Mills
Heather Mills

April 30, 2019

They are not Hero Arts Stamps, but I do have both cat and bear stamps. I even have one with a bear and cat together!

Amber Scholtz
Amber Scholtz

April 29, 2019

I don’t have a bear or cat stamp from the 1980’s. I have more recently fell in love with all of your stamps, however. I recently purchased the caterpillar stamps and dies. I think they are the best thing ever!

Linda Reiley Clark
Linda Reiley Clark

April 29, 2019

I definitely have a lots of 80s bears—wish I had more cats!

Michelle Adams
Michelle Adams

April 29, 2019

I received a little 4 stamp set from my future husband as a git in the 1990’s. He had NO idea what this ‘stamping’ hobby was all about…..

Janet Sisk
Janet Sisk

April 29, 2019

I have so many Hero Arts stamps, but not sure if I ever had a cat or bear. I mainly have sentiments and background stamps. :D

Marcela
Marcela

April 29, 2019

Wish I had had the little bear stamps. So cute.

Marcela
Marcela

April 29, 2019

Wish I had had the little bear stamps. So cute.

Denise Kitts-Wadlow
Denise Kitts-Wadlow

April 28, 2019

I have alot of HA stamps, but sadly I do not have one of those cute little bears, or any kitty cats. I wish I did—they are so cute!!! Thanks for taking us with you on this walk down Memory Lane HA!

GLenda M Sultan
GLenda M Sultan

April 28, 2019

I have a 2" cat head only with paws separate. I love making gift tags with them. I’m not sure if it’s Hero Arts since I removed them from the wood. Can you imagine that I ran out of storage space?

Bernay Brumbaugh
Bernay Brumbaugh

April 28, 2019

I have 1 teddy bear stamp probably bought in the late 80s 😂😂😂😂

Kathy T
Kathy T

April 28, 2019

Yes, I have bear and cat stamps but not from the 1980s. I didn’t start stamping until the 90s and I have quite the collection!

Lee
Lee

April 28, 2019

I have a few bears!! My mom has the cats! Such a fun flash back!

Lagene
Lagene

April 28, 2019

I do have the polar bear HERO ARTS Polar Greetings.

Jean Maxwell
Jean Maxwell

April 28, 2019

I had a ton of bear & cat stamps. A cat with a balloon was my first stamp that I received it as a gift. I must confess I still have my bear stamps.

D.Ann C
D.Ann C

April 27, 2019

I was kind of out of it in the 80s. LoL! Love the Cheshire cat!! And, you see that raccoon on the top of your catalog page?… I’d LOVE it if you’d make a cat with a fluffy tail and body just like that!! >^.^<

Marisela Delgado
Marisela Delgado

April 27, 2019

“Hasta la pregunta es necia” is Spanish for “silly answer for a silly question.” Do I own any bear or cat stamps?? Most of my original/first stamps were ONLY bears or cats. AND, I still have them and they are still cute. =) ha-ha

Kathy H
Kathy H

April 27, 2019

Yes! I have a few bears and even more cats. some Hero Arts stamps are very old! I will put a link on your page so you can see.

Jackie S
Jackie S

April 27, 2019

Only found Hero Arts a couple of years ago, so no old stamps for me. I do love animal stamps, though!

Debbie Duran
Debbie Duran

April 27, 2019

Have a couple of bear stamps and a few cat stamps, none HA though. Most of my Hero Arts stamps are sentiment stamps, with a few floral ones. :)

Melissa
Melissa

April 27, 2019

I don’t have any bears or cats in my collection. It has been fun looking back into the archives!

Glorie
Glorie

April 27, 2019

No bears in my collection, but I have a lot of florals.

 Emmie W
Emmie W

April 27, 2019

I have always been able to rely on Hero Arts stamps to make great stamp impressions…then and now. Even the progression to polyclear Hero Arts has maintained their quality. A great American company.

Henriétte
Henriétte

April 27, 2019

I love to read this historie of Hero Arts. I don’t have Hero Arts bears or cat stamps but I know that I have given away quit a few stamps when I was getting older. Can’t remember what they where but they where woodblock stamps that’s what I still know.

Linda
Linda

April 27, 2019

I organized my wood stamps the other day and found several Hero Arts bear stamps, they are dated 1985 and 1987.

Donna
Donna

April 27, 2019

Loving these “blasts from the past!” Not sure I have a bear or kitty from the old days as I may have passed them on!

Anuja Kulkarni
Anuja Kulkarni

April 27, 2019

I always save your catalogs when I pick them up at the local Expo!! I love that the quality of Hero Arts products has stayed consistently amazing over the years and designs are timeless

Linda Kunsman
Linda Kunsman

April 27, 2019

alas, I do not have a HA bear or cat stamp, but I do have MANY other HA stamps and sets:)

DeNel Brister
DeNel Brister

April 27, 2019

Yes I have a bear stamp and a cat from long ago! I have a ton of Hero Arts!! Always been a favorite of mine! Congratulations on 45 years!!!!🎉❤️

DeNel Brister
DeNel Brister

April 27, 2019

Yes I have a bear stamp and a cat from long ago! I have a ton of Hero Arts!! Always been a favorite of mine! Congratulations on 40 years!!!!🎉❤️

Maria B
Maria B

April 27, 2019

No bear stamps, but I have a winged cat.

Sarah May
Sarah May

April 27, 2019

Love the photos of old catalogues and stamps. I hadn’t made the connection that my few old woodblock stamps from when I was little could possibly be from the same place making the modern clear stamps we know and love! I’ll have to investigate…

Kirsty Lim
Kirsty Lim

April 27, 2019

I sure do, teddy bear stamps are the best!!!! : )

karenajo
karenajo

April 26, 2019

Unfortunately I do not have one of the bears or kitties. I am enjoying learning how HA all came about and has progressed through the years. Thanks for sharing !

Cynthia C.
Cynthia C.

April 26, 2019

I have a teddy and cat but not from this far back… started around 2007. Congrats on your big anniversary!!

Geri S
Geri S

April 26, 2019

I do have bear and cat stamps but my first ones were Mickey Mouse for my boys’ scrapbook. Wish I had known or seen more of Hero Arts way back then! You’re my hero now in the stamping world!

Jessica Walters
Jessica Walters

April 26, 2019

I have lots of bear and cat stamps in my collection.

Tiffany
Tiffany

April 26, 2019

Yes! I have the cat and bear bookplate stamp! One of my first stamps and I’ll never part with it!

shartl
shartl

April 26, 2019

How fun to look back at the history of Hero Arts! I got my first rubber stamp set in the late 1980’s and it was a foam mounted cat set by All Night Media. Then I got a wood mounted teddy bear stamp by Hero Arts. Now my own two little girls are using my old stamps…yay!!

Stephanie B
Stephanie B

April 26, 2019

My first Hero Arts stamp was a valentine bear from 1991! I hope it comes out as a clear mount. I still have it, and it works fine as a wood mount, but it’s nice to have options ;)

Karen Lingel
Karen Lingel

April 26, 2019

No, I didn’t get started until the 90’s, but I look forward to your installment about the 90’s stamps. I will be sure to recognize some of those stamps! And I remember buying them in the (now defunct) stamp stores way back when. Wow, this is really a stroll down Memory Lane. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

JOAN VANCOURT
JOAN VANCOURT

April 26, 2019

I have a few bears, but not HA. These bears are adorable. Now that I have grandchildren, I would love those bears. I have a few cat stamps, too.

Bonnie K.
Bonnie K.

April 26, 2019

None of those cute bears or cats from the 80s here – I’ve only been acquiring my stamps for the last couple of years. I do have a couple dogs, though!

Izabela
Izabela

April 26, 2019

I have a cat stamps because I have a little black cat at home and I like to send cards to my family from Poland with a cat image on the front.

Flo
Flo

April 26, 2019

I couldn’t find all my older hero arts stamps but I did see one with a bunny dancing in flowers dated 1988 (B617). I have a bear stamp holding a big heart, too. The other day I also found my bottle of dazzle glue. I remember using it on all my Valentine’s stamps. It doesn’t have a date but it says Hero Arts Rubber Stamps, emeryville, ca.

Anna Mahtani
Anna Mahtani

April 26, 2019

I do not have the stamps as I am fairly new to this stamping community. But those bear stamps are so adorable!

karenladd
karenladd

April 26, 2019

Not only do I remember those old wood mounted stamps with the images handstamped on them, I have a slew of cat and bear stamps. I first discovered rubber stamps in the mid-80’s but didn’t really get serious about stamping until about 2004. I’ve got a lot of wood mounted and clear Hero Arts stamps in my collection and was recently surprised to learn that I live in the same city as the Hero Arts headquarters! Hero Arts has a special place in my heart…and in my craft cabinet!

Priyanka Kantak
Priyanka Kantak

April 26, 2019

I have both bear and cat stamps ❤

Chris Lawlor
Chris Lawlor

April 26, 2019

I do have a bear stamp from the 80’s, but it is a little teddy bear picnic stamp set from All Night Media.

Susan McRae
Susan McRae

April 26, 2019

Oddly enough I don’t have any bears or cats in my collection, and my collection is pretty big! Thanks for the flashback!

Marlene
Marlene

April 26, 2019

I have the bears! When it comes to stamping Hero Arts was the most instrumental in getting me started!

Lee Cockrum
Lee Cockrum

April 26, 2019

I have several woodblock mounted cat stamps in my collection…but I moved recently, and I have not finished unpacking, so I don’t know if they are Hero Arts or not!!

Nancy Dempsey
Nancy Dempsey

April 26, 2019

I do have cat and bear stamps in my stash but none from the eighties. I didn’t get into stamping until around 2005 and haven’t stopped since!

Liz Ford
Liz Ford

April 26, 2019

I did have a bear in my collection and I think it was a Hero Arts stamp and I have been looking for it since you began posting the flashbacks! If I find it I will post a photo of it. But it was a bear with a ball and it was seated, the bear, and had the ball in between its legs (if I remember correctly!) Enjoying the flashbacks and looking forward to seeing more flashes from the past!

LaNell Taylor
LaNell Taylor

April 26, 2019

This is so fun!

Anita in France
Anita in France

April 26, 2019

None of these bears or cats in my stash … they were around well before my stamping life began!! Anita :)

KT Fit Kitty
KT Fit Kitty

April 26, 2019

I have several old Hero Arts cat stamps from the ‘80s and even a couple stamps with a cat and a bear! I’m enjoying this walk down memory lane! I love my old stamps!

Terrie D.
Terrie D.

April 26, 2019

It’s fun to see how the catalog has changed over the years. These bears with numbers stamps are adorable! I believe I have a few bear and cat stamps in my stash. :)

Rebecca
Rebecca

April 26, 2019

I have a bear!

Cyndee
Cyndee

April 26, 2019

Yes, I have a bear and balloons and a bunch of others. That would be awesome if the vintage stamps became more valuable with age!

Donna Billingsley
Donna Billingsley

April 26, 2019

Oh this is so cool!!! I can’t believe how far Hero Arts has come. You guys all ROCK!

Julie
Julie

April 26, 2019

I have a couple bears still but never had cats. We are 🐶 dog people! I like this reminiscing!

Josmary
Josmary

April 26, 2019

I’m having so much fun learning not only about hero arts evolution but of the industry too. 😍 so interesting

Barbara-Jean
Barbara-Jean

April 26, 2019

I do have a bear in my collection, giving a hug…

Dagmar
Dagmar

April 26, 2019

I Love my Wildflower Rubberstamps. The are a little bit younger but today as nice as ever. Happy Birthday Hero Arts 🥂

Cynthia O.
Cynthia O.

April 26, 2019

I’m really enjoying the Flashback features! It’s so great to hear of the humble beginnings of Hero Arts. Sadly, I don’t have any stamps from the 1980s. So far, the oldest I’ve found in my stash is 1993. :0

Heidi Macy
Heidi Macy

April 26, 2019

Yes, lots of cat images! Not too many bears actually. I have to wonder what ink was used to stamp onto the backs of those woodblocks??

Eliece Edge
Eliece Edge

April 26, 2019

The first two stamps I ever bought featured bears. They were both from Ant Transfer. One of them had the bear holding a blank sign where you could write whatever you needed. The other one was meant to be used for the Zip code on an envelope. It had 6 little bears standing in a row. The first one held a sign that said ZIP. The other 5 held hearts where you could write the numerals of the Zip code. I think I bought them in the late 70s, and I still occasionally use them.

Andre M.
Andre M.

April 26, 2019

I’m a relatively new stamper so I don’t own any stamps from the 1980s. It has been such a pleasure to read of your company’s history.

Melinda Stearns
Melinda Stearns

April 26, 2019

Truly one of my favorite stamp companies!

Bette
Bette

April 26, 2019

I don’t have the bear numbers. But I have the huge letters and numbers from the 90’s. Can’t wait for you to get to them. They are still very loved.

Maureen Hayes
Maureen Hayes

April 26, 2019

I am not lucky enough to have a cat or bear stamp from your 1980’s collection, but have some from other eras. I am so enjoying these flashbacks and learning more about Hero Arts history. I love you HA and think you deserve at least another 45 years!!!👏👏💕👏

Yvonne B.
Yvonne B.

April 26, 2019

I have the penguin that I spy on that catalogue intro! Congrats on a fabulous 45 years!

Kathryn
Kathryn

April 26, 2019

I think my earliest stamps from you were some fish, a dolphin, and a whale in the 90s. I was a little to young to stamp in the 80s.

Jen shears
Jen shears

April 26, 2019

I started stamping in the early 90’s- I don’t think I have any bears or cats from that era but I wouldn’t swear to it! Congratulations on not only celebrating 45 years but with continued growth!

Kailash
Kailash

April 26, 2019

Unfortunately I do not have a bear or cat stamp in my collection, this was way before I fell in love with the art of creating with stamps:-)

Lisa Taylor
Lisa Taylor

April 26, 2019

I know I have a lot of cat stamps but I need to see how early my oldest Hero cat stamp is! Yet another reason to go digging in my studio!

Cheryl
Cheryl

April 26, 2019

I do not have a bear or cat stamp. Unfortunately. I just started stamping in 2017.
I do want to say that I watched an interview, of Aaron, and learned about Hero Arts “green” initiatives. Huzzah!! Well done!!!

Helen
Helen

April 26, 2019

Sorry, no cats or bears among my early stamps—I tended toward florals and sentiments and always enjoy using them.

Sharon Gullikson
Sharon Gullikson

April 26, 2019

I did!!! And do. I think that I have a couple of old Hero Arts bear stamps. I think that bears must have been popular in the mid-80s, too, because we decorated our daugther’s nursery in 1985—in bears. Primary colors, and bears :)

Janet
Janet

April 26, 2019

Yes I have bears stamps! Kept nearly all of them. I have a few PSX and All Night Media stamps too.
It’s simply amazing (and wonderful for us) that Hero Arts has been going for 45 years!! A testament to the quality of your products and service.

Roxana
Roxana

April 26, 2019

Totally own both bears and cats….love them both. This is so amazing to see and read about your journey. Love you guys.

Teresa Godines #6857
Teresa Godines #6857

April 26, 2019

I have no bear or cat stamps from this time period. They are very cute though

jill allard
jill allard

April 26, 2019

i used to have bears before i lost them all it would be nice to win and restart my collection

Stacy L
Stacy L

April 26, 2019

I don’t have any bears or cats. I just started stamping in 2018.

Renee Vanepps
Renee Vanepps

April 26, 2019

Congrats on being in business for so long, you all are obviously doing something right! I enjoyed this little walk through history.. so much has changed in this business, that’s for sure..

LaVon Hall
LaVon Hall

April 26, 2019

These stamps are from before my discovery of my love for rubber stamping but such fun to see the evolution!

Karen
Karen

April 26, 2019

I have both cats and bears. I just entered the stamping world in the 80’s.

Linda
Linda

April 26, 2019

I have several bear stamps from the mid 80’s

Becca Yahrling
Becca Yahrling

April 26, 2019

Oh, how I wish I had one of those adorable bear/number stamps!! Very sweet.

Judy
Judy

April 26, 2019

I love hearing about the history of Hero Arts and seeing the older catalog and stamps! I have a newer bear stamp in my collection, Hero Arts Bouquet Bear from 2009.