Paper clip

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A paper clip (or sometimes paperclip) is an instrument used to fasten sheets of paper together.

Contents

Shape and composition

A paper clip is usually a thin wire in a looped shape that takes advantage of the elasticity and strength of the materials of its construction (usually steel or some other metal, but sometimes plastic) to compress and therefore hold together two or more pieces of paper by means of torsion and friction. Some other kinds of paper clip use a two-piece clamping system.

Recent innovations include multi-colored plastic-coated paper clips and spring-fastened binder clips.

History

According to the Early Office Museum, the first patent for a bent wire paper clip was awarded in the United States to Samuel B. Fay, in 1867. This clip was originally intended primarily for attaching tickets to fabric, although the patent recognized that it could be used to attach papers together.[1] Fay received U.S. patent 64,088 on April 23, 1867. Although functional and practical, Fay's design along with the 50 other designs patented prior to 1899 are not considered reminiscent to the modern paperclip design known today.[2] Another notable paper clip design was also patented in the United States by Erlman J. Wright in 1877. This clip was advertised at that time for use in fastening newspapers.[1]

The most common type of wire paper clip still in use, the Gem paper clip, was never patented, but it was most likely in production in Britain already in the early 1870s by "The Gem Manufacturing Company", according to the American expert on technological innovations, Professor Henry J. Petroski.[3] He refers to an 1883 article about "Gem Paper-Fasteners", praising them for being "better than ordinary pins" for "binding together papers on the same subject, a bundle of letters, or pages of a manuscript".[4] Since the 1883 article had no illustration of this early "Gem", it may have been different from modern paper clips of that name. The earliest documentation of its existence is an advertisement for "Gem Paper Clips" published by Cushman & Denison, 172 9th Avenue, New York City, in The Book-Keeper, August 1894, p. 6.[5] In 1904 Cushman & Denison registered a trade mark for the "Gem" name in connection with paper clips. The announcement stated that it had been used since March 1, 1892, which may have been the time of its introduction in the United States.[5] Paper clips are still sometimes called "Gem clips", and in Swedish the word for any paper clip is "gem".

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