Two machines have revolutionized the legal industry: the adding machine and the numbering machine. The adding machine enabled hourly billing, contingent fee cases, and complex Ponzi schemes. It also rapidly changed how lawyers practice. After all, who knew that one day adding machines would have touch screens and could be used in coffee shops or while commuting?
The numbering machine — more commonly known as the Bates Stamper– also has a rich history, though not as celebrated. Where the adding machine is the Ricardo Montalban of office equipment, the Bates stamper is the Wallace Shawn. Something you’ve seen before but cannot quite remember where you saw it. Whatever its perception, though, the numbering machine remains an office workhorse, helping to categorize and track documents and to keep scriveners and law clerks busy during down times.
One Bates Stamper worth having is the Bates 9820315 Standard Multiple Movement Numbering Machine. It’s one of the classics, nearly as renowned and respected as the Swingline 747 Stapler. We took one for a drive last week. Here’s what we found.
Style. If you say anything about the 9820315, it’s got panache. Hewn from a single slab of sustainable stainless steel, it is hand-carved by Swiss clockmaker apprentices, giving it a level of detail unparalleled in today’s office product market. Better yet, the manufacturers have left the Bates retro mark alone, giving this numbering machine a chic retro cool look. Looking to impress law students asking for a job? One of these on your desk screams “retro post-ironic so totally cool but what is it?”
Mechanics and Function. The mechanics of the 315, as we like to call it, are superb. First, it has a safety “stem lock” to prevent accidental release, which helps to prevent common but expensive nervous or “trigger finger” stamping errors. That’s handy. And unlike some of the more basic or inferior stampers, the 315 also allows for irregular numbering, such as 4568 instead of 6548 (surprisingly, though, it does not offer Chinese numbering). It also has up to seven digits as well as consecutive, repeat, duplicate & triplicate numbering. Yowza. That’s a lot.
One limitation, though: it does not have a dropped cipher function. Thus, unless you splurge for an elite model like the 60, your numbering will need to begin with leading digits. We recommend, though, that you use leading digits like 344 or 450 to seem as if you have 3 or 4 million pages in the discovery hopper.
Optional Usage. While not included on the spec sheet, we have successfully used the 315 for labeling client files, adding street addresses to envelopes, and marking food in the office refrigerator. Basically, a numbering machine works well with anything requiring a number.
Next time you are in the market for a numbering machine, don’t go cheap and buy an inferior brand stamper in the toy section of Target. Consider the 315. With it’s retro chic cool, superb mechanics, and extensive numbering options, it’s the best choice for your multiple movement numbering machine needs.