Paper clip

The first patent for the paper clip was awarded to Samuel B Fay of the United States in 1867. It was designed to fasten labels to garments and textiles, but was also marketed as a paper clip. In 1877 Erlman J. Wright patented the first device explicitly designed as a paper clip, resembling present models. Several new US patents followed during the last decades of the 19th century.

The most common type of wire paper clip still in use was never patented, but it was probably in production in Britain as early as 1890 by "The Gem Manufacturing Company". An advertisement for Gem clips in 1899 referred to a patent, but this has never been documented. The American expert on technological innovations, professor Henry J. Petroski, has seen the Gem mentioned as early as 1883, but this may refer to some other product from the same British factory. The "Gem" name was registered as a trade mark in the United States in 1904, and the application stated that the product -- if it was in fact a paper clip -- had been on the market since March 1892. Paper clips are still sometimes called "Gem clips", and in Swedish the word for any paper clip is "gem".


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