Punched Drunk: Alcohol, Surveillance and the LCBO, 1927-1975

LCBO Surveillance Technologies

Punch Cards, IBM & Statistical Analysis


“Endorsed” and “Filled” Stamps

The Board’s final pieces of disciplinary technology consisted of individualized, numbered “Endorsed” and “Filled” stamps issued to local store staff to keep track of employee interactions with customers. To identify individual stamp holders the Board informed vendors to supply head office with “the numbers of all ‘FILLED’ and ‘ENDORSED’ stamps in [their] store, together with the name of the person operating each stamp.” Using the numbers allotted to each stamp in each store, the Board kept lists of who was “operating each stamp” as a means of endorsed and filled stamps on purchase order form“maintaining a current and accurate record of employees” (LCBO Circular no. 557, 1928, no. 720, 1929; Store Inspector’s Report, LCBO Form R-3: 2; LCBO Handbook 1951: 6).

As explained in the LCBO Vendor’s Instructions (1927: 1), after an original Purchase Order Form was filled out, signed by the permittee, and the purchase accepted by the permit clerk, the form was to be stamped “ENDORSED” by the clerk’s individually numbered stamp ( LCBO Vendor's Instructions 1927: 1 ; LCBO Handbook 1951: 6; LCBO Circular no. 653, 1929). After a purchase was endorsed the permittee handed the form to an employee behind the counter who went back into the stock room to retrieve the order. After handing the permittee the purchase, that “counterman” was also to “stamp the purchase order ‘filled’ with a rubber stamp.” The vendors were to take “the greatest care” in this matter, making sure that no employee used another employee’s stamp.

Enquiries are made quite often at Head Office into irregularities, and this is the only means of identification we have. Permit Clerks and Countermen may in future, if they allow any one else to use their stamp find themselves called upon to be responsible for errors which they did not commit. If there are not sufficient stamps to carry into effect the instructions of this circular, please advise us of your wants. (LCBO Circular no. 557, 1928)

The individual stamps were an important means of identifying those involved in “possible misuse” or sale “irregularities,” and therefore in need of finer disciplinary attention, and certainly remedial education. In addition to the head office’s and inspector reviews of purchase records, the Board also instructed local vendors to “make a close examination of purchase orders daily to ascertain if any irregular sales are being made without their knowledge” (LCBO Circular no. 1479, 1933).

In keeping with the need for the conscious and permanent visibility of liquor consumption, in the eyes of the Board the misuse of vendor’s stamps or the mislabelling of liquor permits was “the most reprehensible practice” and one of the few instances meriting “immediate dismissal” (LCBO Circular no. 333, 1928). Individual vendors found wanting in this regard were subject to punishment and in some cases incarcerated (LCBO Circular no. 625, 1929, no. 653, 1929; Rex v. Brown 1930). Indeed, these Endorsed and Filled stamps were seen as being so important that at the end of the business day the vendor collected and placed them “under lock and key until the following morning, at which time, each endorser will be given his proper stamp by the Vendor personally” (LCBO Handbook 1951: 6).


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