The Office Stapler

Published: 15th September 2009
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Well it turns out that the humble stapler has quite the regal beginning. Legend has it that the first stapler was designed for King Louis XV of France during the 1700's and used gold staples encrusted with precious stones. Unfortunately, as Louis was the only person in France that could afford the refill packs of staples, any attempt to sell the Louis XV stapler into a mass market which comprised almost entirely of illiterate impoverished French peasantry, was doomed to failure. And anyway, Louis' interest as a commercial stationary product sponsor had waned as for some bizarre reason, he was now more interested in chasing Madame de Pompadour around the bedroom than attaching two pieces of paper together.

So on to the first affordable stapler. Who invented it? Well historically, things get a little, let's say "cloudy" at this point. First, there is Samuel Slocum who is sometimes credited as the inventor of the stapler. Except he wasn't. What he did invent in 1841 was a machine that stuck 16 sewing pins into a piece of card so they could be sold. And then there is the problem of what exactly constitutes a stapler. Is it a device that fastens together pieces of paper? Or is it specifically a device that fastens together pieces of paper by means of a cinced wire staple in a single operation? Without a clear definition, any of these are possible "first" candidates:

1859: A simple machine that used an eyelet as a fastener.

1866: The Patent Novelty Manufacturing Company's Novelty Paper Fastener.

1868: Albert Kletzker's "paper Clip", which inserted a staple which needed cinching by hand.

1867: George W McGill's device which inserted a small brass fastener into paper.

1877: Henry R Heyl's single operation device which used cinced staple in a single operation.

1879: George W McGill (again) with his McGill Single-Stroke Stable Press, a device that weighed over 2 1/2 lb.

1895: The Star Automatic Paper Fastener, which was the first stapler to use strips of staples.

So that's a little of the history of the evolution of the office stapler we know and love. But what of the other question, "what would life be like without them?". Well that's easy. Next time Fred in Accounts "borrows" your stapler, you'll know exactly what life would be like without them!

Office products are continually improving and staplers are one of those items that has a long history of product improvement. In this review Mark looks at the humble stapler, its history and function.

More information about office staplers is available on the office product sites Mark refers to in the review.

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