National Paperclip Day on May 29th each year celebrates a small but unusually useful invention. Yes, even the paperclip has its own day of honor. The day celebrates the well-known piece of curved wire that keeps our papers together and helps us stay organized.
- While many may have claimed earlier invention of the paperclip, according to the Early Office Museum, Samuel B. Fay received the first patent for a “bent wire paper clip” in the United States in 1867.
- The original intention of Fay’s clip was to attach tickets to fabric. However, U.S. patent 64,088 recognized that it could also be used to attach papers together.
- As many as 50 others received patents for similar designs prior to 1899. One other notable name receiving a patent for his paperclip design in the United States was Erlman J. Wright in 1877. At that time, he advertised his clip for use in fastening newspapers.
- The Gem paperclip, which was most likely in production in Britain in the early 1870s by The Gem Manufacturing Company, was never patented. It is the most common type of wire paper clip and is still in use today.
- It was introduced to the United States around 1892 and in 1904, Cushman & Denison registered a trademark for the “Gem” name in connection with paper clips. Paperclips are still sometimes called Gem clips.
- Paperclips are not just for holding papers together. There are many other things that you can do with them!
- Replace a zipper tab
- Unclog a spray bottle
- Unclog a single-serve coffee maker
- Hem holder
- Emergency hooks for broken necklaces
- Early in WWII, Norwegians were particularly persistent in their development of symbols. The paper clip represented “sticking together” for a time until the Nazis caught on and banned the wearing of paper clips.
- According to a March 5, 1941, Provo, Utah newspaper article (The Daily Herald), the Norwegians switched to new symbols as quickly as the bans could be issued.
- In 1998, a group of middle school students led by language arts teacher Sandra Roberts and associate principal David Smith began a project through a Holocaust education class. The voluntary after-school class, Whitwell Middle School principal Linda Hooper’s idea, would be the foundation for developing tolerance and diversity.
- There have been 65 different types of paper clips identified by the Early Office Museum and listed on their website. From the first patent in 1867, to the Vee-Clip first marketed in 1966, to an unidentified Serbian clip from 2008, the clips vary vastly in design, shape and size.
- The one paper clip that has withstood the test of time is the Gem Paper Clip (introduced in 1892). Its design is considered to be “perfect”, and it has even been featured in a Museum of Modern Art Exhibit.
- American consumers purchase some 11 million paper clips a year. This astounding figure amounts to about 35 paper clips per person in the United States.