As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

CLIPART 1: Have you ever looked at a paper clip?

Welcome to a new week here on DDoA! Our special series this week is called “CLIPART”. I bring you different takes on the paper clip in different media. We start with fast facts about the invention of the paper clip and the song “Have You Ever Looked at a Paper Clip”  by Bert on Sesame Street.

Who invented the paper clip?
As I did my research on the internet, I was hoping to find the name of ‘the’ inventor of the paper clip. As it turns out,  there are many inventors and manufacturers that have some connection to the paper clip. And there’s not just one paper clip design that has been patented and trademarked.

Here are some of the earliest paper clip patents:
FAY Paper clip (aka ‘Philadelphia’)  – Samuel B. Fay (Patented 1867)
WRIGHT Paper Clip – Erlman J. Wright (Patented 1877)
Utility Paper Clip – (Patented 1895)
Read the complete list of patented and trademarked paper clip designs on the Early Office Museum (on-line museum)

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 8.07.19 pm

Paper Clip Patents – Image via Early Office Museum
Top to Bottom
1- Fay Paper Clip, 2-Wright Paper Clip, 3- Utility Paper Clip,
4- GEM Paper Clip (the most popular design of all paper clips)

So you might ask  – how did Norwegian Vaaler come to be known as the inventor of the paperclip?
“Vaaler became credited as the inventor of the paperclip when his patent was discovered sometime in the 1920s by a Norweigan engineer working in Germany. He documented his findings, not realising that Vaaler’s paperclip was different to the “Gem” style one in common use, and the information that the paperclip was a Norweigan invention found its way into dictionaries and encylopedias in the years following the Second World War, despite being inaccurate!” via tenfactsabout

john vaaler

Image from Wikipedia
Info from ten facts

So who is the TRUE  inventor of the commonly known and used paperclip?
(which is the GEM paperclip)
“The design of the paperclip familiar today has never been patented. It is not known for sure who invented it or where it was invented. What is known was that paper clips with the same design were in production in Britain in the 1870s where it was made by the Gem Manufacturing Company Ltd, which suggests – but doesn’t prove – that they may have been invented there. The Gem paperclip, as it became known, was introduced to America in 1892. It went on to become the most common paperclip in use all over the world. “via tenfactsabout
FYI – “In 1904, Cushman & Denison obtained a trademark for “Gem” used in connection with paper clips.”  Info via office museum

Here are some of the earliest print ads of the GEM paper clip in the USA:



Cushman & Denison Advertisement for Gem Paper Clips, 1922
Image from office museum

Here is a nice chart of some of the paper clip designs through the years. Illustration by Mrs. Easton:


Paper clip designs through the years
Drawing by Mrs Easton

Learn more about the History of the Paper Clip from the Office Museum
Read and learn Ten Facts about the Paperclip

As promised I bring you the song “Have You Ever Looked at a Paper Clip”  by Bert on Sesame Street.

Ernie: Enjoy staring at your paper clips, Bert. (laughs)
Bert: Oh, Ernie, you just don’t understand. *sigh*
Have you ever looked at a paper clip
I mean, really stop to look?
Have you seen how it can
Hold together the pages of a book?
Have you ever looked at a paper clip
When it shines under the light, huh?
Have you ever put it on your finger
And watched it hold on tight?
Anyone can look at a rainbow
Anyone can look at the sky
To see that those things are pretty
You don’t really have to try
But, have you ever seen how a paper clip
It’s so … I don’t know. So flat, huh?
Have you noticed how it keeps on bending
And say “Why, now, look at that!”
If you stopped and looked at a paper clip
For just a minute or two
You might get to love a paper clip
The way that I do

Paper Clip sung by Bert (voice of Frank Oz), Sesame Street
-transcribed by David Frangioso via tripod

Ernie (spoken): Gee, Bert.
You know, I don’t think I ever really looked at a paper clip before…

Rx logo 1So do… as Bert did – look at a paper clip or some other little thing we take for granted. Marvel at its beauty and be grateful to those who took pains to invent or improve them to make our lives a little better.

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This entry was posted on September 22, 2014 by in Explore, Imagine and tagged , .
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