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Planet Earth

They Invented it


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by Fenella Saunders

With the transition from scrolls to pages came the need for something to hold the leaves together. Circa 1200, papers were joined with a short ribbon threaded through two cuts on the pages and sealed with wax. One of the first known staplers belonged to King Louis XV of France. Each staple was decorated with the royal insignia. In 1841, American Samuel Slocum patented a more prosaic device for sticking pins into paper. In 1866, the Novelty Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia patented a stapler that held one staple at a time; the user whacked a ramhead to drive it in. In the 1890s, Acme Sure Shot's stapler used a rear-loaded strip of staples mounted on cardboard, which tended to crumble and jam, while E.H. Hotchkiss Company's version used a metal binding strip so tough the stapler sometimes had to be pounded with a mallet. Finally, in the 1920s, Parrot Speed Products— later Swingline— created a smooth-loading, glued strip of staples and about 10 years later developed the modern, low-effort top-loading stapler.

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