Origins of ordinary things: Staplers

A stapler is one of the commonest and most essential items in any office. It contains thin metal staples used for holding together two or more pieces of paper. According to Wikipedia, an encyclopaedia, there are also surgical staplers used to close up surgical wounds.

The stapler is said to have first been made during the 1700s by toolmakers of King Louis XV of France. According to Stapler Slinger, a stapler information website, the Monarch’s paper fasteners were made from gold and reportedly engraved with precious stones. Additionally, they were inscribed with the symbol of the royal court. They cost higher than an average person’s monthly income and were thus impractical.

Next, the American Novelty Manufacturing Company was granted a patent for a paper fastener in 1866. One of the major flaws with the device, according to Mental Floss, a knowledge dissemination website, is that it would only clinch the metal into the paper; fastening would be done by hand.

The first stapler for practical use is thus attributed to American George McGill who in 1867 was granted a patent for a fastening machine which hit the market two years later. During this time, other inventors received patents and were also trying their hand at making staplers. They include Englishman C.H. Gould and American, Albert Kletzker. The problem with McGill’s stapler was that it required constant reloading.

The inventor of the modern-day stapler is considered to be Henry R. Heyl who in 1877 filed patent number 195,603 for the first machines to both insert and clinch a staple in one step. This is according to The Hire Solution, a web-based resource for employment professionals.

Over the years, many manufacturers worked to improve the way staplers worked. For instance, according to the Invention and Technology website, in 1895 the American E.H. Hotchkiss Company made a stapler which contained a long strip of bendable staples wired together. It was popularly known as “the Hotchkiss”. Still, the stapler was flawed because it required so much energy that sometimes, one would have to use a sledge hammer to successfully separate staples from their strips.

In 1937, Russian-born American stationery wholesaler, Jack Linksy, invented the Swingline stapler. According to Reference, a web-based information dissemination platform, the stapler was simple and efficient and for this reason, it became quickly popular. Today’s staplers still use the design developed by Linsky.

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