February 07, 2006
Bates Numbers
Posted by Gordon Smith

Yesterday, Judge Lake gave the Enron jurors are brief description of "Bates numbers" after lawyers in the case referred to various documents. According to Enron: TrialWatch, Judge Lake explained:

"Years ago they gave you a stamp, like a checker uses to stamp a can of peas with. I guess the original stamp was named for a Mr. Bates.... Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about this.

Actually, I was curious to know more. I found this nifty image of Bates automatic numbering machine:


The machine was patented in 1891-93, and you can find some for sale on eBay. Here is the Bates machine in action:


The Bates Manufacturing Company was located in Orange, New Jersey, and here is a very brief history:

This company was incorporated in New York on September 13, 1890, to manufacture and sell automatic hand-held numbering machines. During the period 1892-1897 the Edison Phonograph Works absorbed its manufacturing operations and acquired nearly all of the company's stock. The Bates Manufacturing Company continued as the sales agent for numbering machines, line-dating machines, and other office products. The corporation was dissolved in January 1922.

Finally, here is a photo of the manufacturing facility:


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