The safety pin is a pin which also includes a clasp and spring. The clasp protects the person using the pin from being pricked by the sharp pin and it also closes the pin to provide a strong fastening. These pins were traditionally used for cloth baby diapers (nappies) because the baby is protected from the pin, but are also used for fastening fabrics/clothing or attaching accessories to clothing. The earliest similar invention was the fibula, an ancient type of brooch that dates back thousands of years, but this invention was eventually forgotten. Compared to the fibula, the modern safety pin is a very recent invention. Let’s take a look at the story behind the safety pin.
Who invented the safety pin?
American mechanic Walter Hunt invented a safety pin that is very similar to the modern version. He used an 8 inch piece of brass wire and included a clasp to protect the user from the sharp pin and a twisted bend that acted like a spring. He was granted the patent for the device on April 10, 1849 (U.S. patent number 6,281) and the modern safety pin was born. The following is a copy of the patent.
Hunt invented the device because he had a $15 debt with a friend. He thought that he could make the $15 by inventing something new and useful. He was able to pay his friend back after selling the patent to a company for $400 (more than $10,000 today) and he kept the remaining $385 for himself. Unfortunately for Hunt, he didn’t think highly enough of work and the company went on to make millions of dollars from his invention!
Did you know?
Hunt was a prolific inventor. Some of his other patents include a fountain pen, nail making machine, lockstitch sewing machine, ice plough, street sweeper and many more!