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History of Paper Clips

Paper clips are a fairly simple invention which was invented thousands of years back by early ancestors who had first worked with iron or tin. It is infamously hard to work with steel especially when little items such as wire for these clips are to be produced.

In fact, these clips were not invented before the 1830s, it was the year when John Ireland Howe, an American doctor invented a machine that produced pins with solid head. Before that, pins were made by hands that were not affordable by many seamstresses at a time when most of the clothing was handmade.

Clips (paper) and paper pins are fairly different but at the same time they both have a common purpose, for keeping items clipped or pinned together in an organized manner. After the successful marketing of pins at only a few cents per packet instead of expensive handmade pins, the demand for pins for holding bundle of papers together became unquenchable.

The first turned clip was made after many years in the end of 1867, it was the Fay paper clip also called the Cinch paper clip. It was a small length of wire forming the spine of clip between each bend. The patent was registered in 1867 to Samuel Fay but this paper clip was not extensively available until the beginning of the next century.

On the other hand, there was another design known as Wright paperclip that was invented by Erlman Wright was patented in 1877, however it was also marketed in that same time. The Wright clip was marketed specifically as a replacement object for stitching pages and holding newspaper together.

A paper clip called Gem paper clip was produced in England during the early 1880s, this is the version which is most common nowadays with two round ends, it was first imported to the US in 1892. This clip was never patented in England and the Cushman & Denison company obtained a trademark on the name in 1904.

According to a popular folklore, a Norwegian named Johan Vaaler invented paper clip in 1899 and registered a patent in 1899 in Germany and in 1901 in US. Vaaler had truly designed his clip (paper) and registered for the patents in that year, sadly his designs were not successful and did not worked as there was no torque applied when the clips were held together resulting the clip come lose.

Since many are unaware of Fay and Wright or even the English origin of Gem paperclip, Vaaler was incorrectly declared the inventor of paperclip. The real inventor of the paperclip is the American – Samuel Fay.

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Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash