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The History of Paper Clips

The first bent wire paper clip was patented by Samuel B. Fay in 1867. The Gem paper clip (named for the Gem Office Products Company) is what most of us think of as a paper clip today; it first appeared around 1892. Both the Gem paper clip and the machine that makes it can trace their origins to pin-making. In the early 19th century, office workers pinned their papers together with T-pins. Victorian-era pin-making machines had already made mass-producing wire pins possible. To make paper clips, the machines simply had to be reconfigured to make wire bending possible. Today, paper clips are available in a variety of materials, including molded plastic, wire clips coated with colored plastic, and even semicircular sheets of aluminum that can carry a logo or design. And of course, many other methods of paper binding are still available, including classic T-pins, owl clips, and binder clips. Still, Gem-style paper clips remain one of the most ubiquitous and popular paper-binding methods on the market today.

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