Who Invented The Paperclip

It is one of the most commonly-used items within an office or school, seen as a small device that many of its users would consider to be crucial when they need it, but forgettable when they don’t. Paperclips have been a ‘staple’ in the stationary industry for years, but who first came up with the idea of bending a small tube of metal in that shape?

paper-clips-001There are a number of claimants to the invention of the paperclip, but the first patent for such an object was granted to American Samuel B Fay in 1867, with what was described as a bent wire used for attaching sheets of paper together, although this was merely a side-effect of Fay’s original intention (an object to bind tickets to fabric). At some point in the early 1870’s, though, The Gem Manufacturing Company (in England), began producing paperclips in the ‘looped’ design seen today, and although they are recognised nowadays as the inventor of this paperclip shape, the design was never patented by them. American William Middlebrook, meanwhile, completed a universal recognition of the design when he filed an accepted US patent for a machine that produced Gem-style paperclips in 1899.

A common misconception from many in the world is crediting the invention with Norwegian national icon Johan Vaaler, who had registered his more simplistic and less functional (rectangular and un-looped) design to German authorities in 1899, and in the USA in 1901.

While he is known as a ‘great Norwegian inventor’ who went on to become a Patent clerk himself, it is widely regarded that Vaaler only received the patents because there was not yet a market for the device in his native Norway (the reason he had thought the idea was original at first), and relaxed US patent laws which saw enough of a difference between the Vaaler and Gem designs to be considered ‘unique’, although it was only the latter which would become a well-known shape for the object.

Despite not being the true inventor of the paperclip, Vaaler’s work still had an impressive impact on his countrymen, with the paperclip now regarded as a ‘national symbol’. Around the rest of the world, the object has been useful in keeping important documents bound together, but also has other uses, as explained in this clip produced by The History Channel:

Paperclips – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Pencil Case

tenshi-neko-pencil-case-9-2bigOne of the key features of a well-prepared school-goer is a pencil case, and although the common student item can pretty much be defined as anything used to carry a collection of pencils, pens, and rulers (amongst other stationary), ranging from tin boxes to plastic zip-up bags. But while it is more widespread than that, with technically any bag or holding device able to hold such equipment, such a simple concept for a specific pencil case product had to have been invented by someone, but who was it, and when?

Despite the pencil case having been around for over 200 years, the cases as we know them today were not thought of until 1946. With a history of being made from precious materials (e.g. silver or ivory) and seen as a rich accessory to an expensive pencil or pen, the idea to create a more practical, ‘all-round’ feel for the object, came in 1946, when a patent application from 1944 was granted to American stationary expert Verona Pearl Amoth.

She created this new design of pencil case in order to prevent pencils from making gradual holes in clothing, with the added purpose of protecting the points on the pencils. The patent for an ‘All-Purpose Utility Pencil Case’ was granted, and the product has advanced from a slightly flawed ‘slot’ design to become an even more all-purpose product, and while the older approach (expensive materials for delicate stationary) still exists to an extent, it is the student-friendly product that dominates the market.

Pencil Case – Wikipedia