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The History of Paper Bags

The humble, yet oh-so-useful paper bag was invented by Francis Wolle in the early 1850s. His version was envelope-shaped and lacked both durability and interior space. Then in the 1870s, Margaret Knight, an employee at the Columbia Paper Bag Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, designed a machine that could mass-produce flat bags that could then be unfolded into the square-bottomed paper bags we are familiar with today. Her design could stand upright and had far greater capacity than Wolle’s version. In 1883, Charles Stilwell made updates to Knight’s machine that allowed advertisers to print their logo and brand name on the bags. Today, the paper bag continues to be extremely popular and is used for everything from carrying groceries to transporting children’s school lunches!

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