Paper Clips

Ah yes, the vast and mostly unexplored world of paper clips.

"Paper clips? What in the world is he launching into now? How can he possibly write a post about a piece of spring steel."

Yet you read on. Out of sick expectation, morbid curiosity or more likely just the sheer boredom of a slow Tuesday at work. Possibly your computer has crashed and you cannot close the page. Whatever your excuse, you're still here. So sit back relax and enjoy the complex undoing of everything you thought the paper clip was for!

Paper clips, like many ingenious innovations, were created long before people had a use for them. The first paper clip was invented on a lazy Sunday afternoon by a crazed cooper who, after a long day of barrel making was trying his best to pass the time. He roughly shaped an iron band into a clip shape in hopes of having something to hold all his order requests together. It should be noted, since this was 1535 and paper was an expensive commodity, most of his orders where written on tree bark and leather strips. It was a clumsy solution at best.

Also consider that when he tried to sell these iron clips of his, due to there sheer weight they could only be packaged in pairs. A brace of clips was roughly 70lbs. His business soon folded due to expense he had to pay out in postal stamps.

It wasn't till sometime in the later 1800's when some finally got fed up with the way his desk looked, that the paper clip idea was once again reborn.

"I hate the way my desk looks. I'm going to invent the paper clip." And so he did. Now we have them once again and at a much more manageable weight to boot. Additionally we could cram a lot more in a box. This way they all jumble together and take an hour or so to undo before you are able to use one. Hence modern efficiently was born.

I have heard that only one out of every ten paper clips are used to clip papers together. From my personal perspective I imagine this statistic is accurate. I use mine in many useful ways.

Such as cleaning out dirt from under my fingernails. This is a personal favorite. Not a scary as a pair of scissors or a sewing needle, the paper clip is a excellent substitute. Additionally they are invaluable for bending into funny shapes during meetings, making desk art and sticking into electrical outlets, 'just to see what happens.'

I also know from hours of hours of television, they should be able to assist you with picking locks to free yourself from handcuffs or prisons, and well as making complex electrical bypasses i n complicated circuitry. I've yet to have any real success at either of these, not that I haven spent hours trying. I have used them to fill the void left by a missing battery or fuse, though it's not a recommended practice.

I'm sure there are loads of great uses I haven't though up for this highly versatile, extremely diverting little wire invention. For instantce, a good topic for a much needed blog post!


Jason said...

I typed in the words 'a paper clip' into an anagram generator and got 'A crappie pal.' just to see what happens.

Missy said...

I so wanted to be first to post! I actually did see this earlier but didn't have time to comment. my checking of your blog for the highly entertaining snippets you produce....or is it some sort of personal competition? The world might never know..:)

kludge said...


Sometimes, I don't even know how to respond. I suppose it makes sense though a Paper clip IS A crappie pal.

kludge said...


Hey, you came in second! Just remember... ...second place is the first loser.

Ando said...

You can say what you will about me, but I'll be darned if I'll let you talk bad about a paper clip.

Anonymous said...

I guess I can live with first loser, fits me I think. Of course it does leave me with a mission...

The most organized I am with work is in the paper clip department. If one of the little ones gets mixed up with the bigs ones, all work must stop until the tragedy is reversed!!!!

kludge said...

I haven't used a paper clip for it's 'real' purpose in years. I sometimes binder clip...but never paper clip! :)

Tony said...

Actually, the paper clip dates back quite a bit further than that:]Medieval paper clip

Another historical paper clip:

Also, it should be noted that a paper clip (the modern kind, not one of those antiquities) can be used to modify the trigger pull on an AK-type rifle.

(Note the use of shrink tubing for optimal results.)

Bet you didn't know all that, huh? :)

kludge said...


You are a wealth of information on all things paper clip!

I'm blown away by the "London clip" very cool!