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Who invented the paper clip?

Paper clips can be found in many different places all over the world. From the office to the classroom the usefulness of the humble paper clip cannot be measured. Whether it is used in its original capacity or for art and science activities, the paper clip is a marvel of modern design. As a testimony to its versatility it is said that only 1 in 10 paper clips is actually used for its original purpose of binding papers. But who invented the paper clip and how long has the paper clip been around? Read on to find out.

Who invented the paper clip?
Who invented the paper clip has been disputed on a number of occasions due to the sheer number of paper clip designs that were patented. The invention can be attributed to a number of people as similar ideas where patented at around the same time. Most notably Johan Vaaler is recognized as the inventor of the original paper clip in 1899. He registered his patent with Germany as Norway had no laws regarding patents at the time of invention. This type of paper clip was different to the design that we recognize as a paper clip today. In 1900 an American, Cornelius J. Brosnan from Springfield, Massachusetts, was issued a U.S. patent for a similar device called the Konaclip. This coincided with the patenting of Vaaler invention in the U.S thus causing some confusion as to who invented it first.

The modern paper clip
The paper clip that we are most familiar with, is called the Gem clip and was not actually patented as a paper clip. Rather the machine used to create this type of paper clip was patented in 1899 by William Middlebrook of Waterbury, Connecticut U.S. The designs for the machine include a diagram of the paper clip that would be made, a double oval design. In 1904 a trademark was registered by Cushman & Denison for the “Gem” paper clip.

Whilst the paper clip has been re-invented many times, the tried and tested double oval shape has stood the test of time and is still the most commonly available paper clip on today’s market.

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