Wondering about wild grapes

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wondering about the “Paper Clips”

Some things we just take for granted as if they have always existed. Well, that is not so. Most things we use today were not only invented, developed, patented, updated, and redesigned sever times, but there were usually many different styles or designs of these things so that more than one patent could be had.

I just picked up a paper clip awhile ago and started wondering about its history and where it got started and what was used before it existed.

There would have not been a need for paper clips before there was paper, right? So that narrows it down somewhat. Actually, archeologists put a date of about 100 BC on paper making. The first paper clip that was patented was in 1867 by Samuel B. Fay. Here is what it looks like:
Since then there have been many designs but the one we are most used to seeing was not patented but has been advertised since 1894.

OK, what was used before the paper clip? Many things, but straight pins were used the most. Other ways included punching holes and tying with ribbon, yarn, etc., using hot wax, and probably in many other ingenious ways.

If you are wondering why it took so long to invent such a useful item, well, the answer is simple. It had to wait on development of inexpensive wire that was right for the easy and cheap making of the paper clip.

I suggest that you look at the site whose address is shown below. Not only does it give a history of the paper clip, but it shows many pictures of some of the unique designs. Some make a lot of sense, but some are ridiculous. Go take a look and let us know which ones you like the best and which ones you think are crazy.

Here is the Link to Paper Clips


  1. It seems like every generation takes for granted the innovations of the last. For example, I grew up with the home computer. My first experiences on Apple 2s, Commodore 64's and IBM PCs as a young child quickly drew me in, and I witnessed graphics go from text only monochrome to basic line drawings to 16 colors, 256 colors, 640x480 resolutions and finally up to real time 3D landscapes. To my 8 and 10 year old nieces however, an IPod touch simply always existed, and anything older must have come from the stone ages. You should see their faces when I play from original Space Invaders!

  2. I was just thinking about some inventions like the paper clips not long ago!

    You know, we certainly have seen a lot of things come about in our lifetime, haven't we?

    Sure makes you wonder just what's next!

  3. I looked through all the clips, and who would have thought there were so many designs. I naturally like the Gem the best, and the Niagara for large clumps of papers. I've also seen the Eureka in my lifetime, but can't remember the last time. Very interesting topic today, Diz.

  4. wayyy back, in high school, we folded the corners over,,tore a small thingy, folded it over. held the papers together. gosh,,hadn't thot of that in forever. lol

  5. Grant, Being born in the early 40's, I have seen quite a lot new things come about, even men on the moon. . .

    Hermit, They say the speed of new inventions is accelerating, but it seems to me in the last few years, it has slowed down. Upgrades have happened but totally new things, not so many.

    Gypsy, yes, there were a lot different designs. I would think that only the ones that held at two places would have worked well. It is amazing what different people come up with to do the same job.

    Trouble, Yep, I used to do that, also, and infact, still do when a paper clip is not at my finger tips.

  6. I was told that I made a typo on the date of the first patent. It was suppose to be 1867 not 1967. Sorry.

  7. my only problem with paper clips is, there's never one handy when I need one!!!

  8. Hey Ben, do like TROUBLEnTX does. Fold over the corner, tear a couple of slits in the folded area and bend the little piece between the slots down. Works to keep paper together. Or just staple it (grin).

  9. I rarely use them for what they were made and make them in to something else for a different job. I hate stacks of paper so do as much as I can paperless so I don't need them for that.

  10. David, yes they do come in handy for all sorts of jobs. They can be make into temporary parts or tools. Very usefull item.