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Early Office Museum

Antique Stapler Gallery 

 ~ Paper Fasteners & Paper Fastener Punches ~

This gallery presents two displays.

The first display shows the development of metallic paper fasteners that have one of the following two characteristics:
(1) The user inserts portions of the paper fasteners through slits (or holes) in papers.
(2) The user bends or pinches the paper fasteners over the edges or corners of papers.
To visit our separate page on paper clips, click on the "Up" button above and then on the "Paper Clips" button.

The second display shows the development of paper fastener punches that are used to cut the slits (or holes)
through which portions of paper fasteners of the first type are inserted.

Display No. 1: Metallic Paper Fasteners 

Model, Year Introduced, Maker

Click Image to Enlarge

Paper Fasteners that Users Inserted Through Slits in Papers

Swartwout's Metallic Paper Fastener and Binder
Patented 1859 by Edwin L. Swartwout, a dentist. US Patent No. 23,322
On market 1862-73. Marketed by William H. Swartwout.
Swartwout Mfg. Co., New York, NY
"Swartwout's Patent Metallic Paper Fastener and Binder, designed for fastening papers of all kinds...consists of two thin plates, of equal size, one of which is furnished with long, projecting teeth, fitting exactly into corresponding holes in the other.  By a simple process the ends of the teeth are turned up, and the two plates, with whatever is placed between them, are firmly clinched together." (The Publishers' and Stationers' Weekly Trade Circular, Feb. 8, 1872, p. 103)
By 1865 Swartwout was selling a lever press that cut the slits required for the fasteners. This punch is addressed in the second gallery on this page.
Swartwouts_Metallic_Paper_Fastener_OM.jpg (13909 bytes) 1873 Swartwout Paper Fasteners adv in 1873 pub not 1872 OM.jpg (13909 bytes)
Smith's Paper Fastener
Patented 1864 by Addison Smith US Patent No. 43,435
There is no evidence that this fastener was manufactured.
1864 Addison Smith paper fastener.jpg (13909 bytes)
1864 patent diagram
Hart's Paper Fastener and Binder
Patented 1864 in England by Herbert W. Hart
Advertised 1864-70
A reference to Hart's Patented Paper Fastener appeared in an advertisement by Herbert W. Hart and Co. in Debrett's Illustrated Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1864. A reference to "Hart's well-known paper fasteners" appeared in The Mechanics' Magazine, Oct. 12, 1866, p. 226. And during 1867-70, A. H. Hart & Co., Birmingham, England, published advertisements for a paper fastener or binder. Presumably there was a family connection between H. W. Hart and A. H. Hart, but we have been unable to find information on this.

1866 Hart's paper fastener version 2 OM.jpg (87123 bytes)
The image above shows H.W. Hart's self-fastening buttons. His paper fasteners were said to be similar to these buttons.

McGill's Patent Brass Paper Fastener
Patented 1866 by George W. McGill US Patent No. 56,587
On market 1867-1913
Holmes, Booth & Haydens
New York, NY
George W. McGill (1842-c. 1907) was a patent attorney and, from 1866 to 1907, a leading US inventor and (through affiliation with Holmes, Booth & Haydens) producer of metallic paper fasteners, paper fastening punches, stapling machines, staples, spring-loaded letter clips, and bent-wire paper clips.
In 1866, at age 24, McGill obtained a US patent for a type of metallic paper fastener that has been popular ever since. These paper fasteners are made of sheet metal, usually brass, and have a round or flat head and two legs that are inserted through papers and then bent toward the sides. McGill went on to obtain scores of patents for similar and other types of paper fasteners and was the plaintiff or defendant in a number of lawsuits relating to paper fasteners. Many years after 1866, a judge decided that McGill's 1866 patent was invalid insofar as paper fasteners were concerned because it added nothing to the 1864 Hart patent. Two patents issued to McGill in the 1870s and 1880s for minor improvements in his 1866 paper fastener design were also declared invalid. (American Stationer, Jan. 26, 1893, pp. 202-05 at 204)
McGill's Fasteners & Suspending Devices.jpg (51112 bytes) 
Store Display for McGill's Patent Fasteners & Suspending Devices

In 1867, George W. McGill warned buyers that brass paper fasteners sold by anyone other than himself,
including the three types listed immediately below, violated his patents:
1. Hamilton's Paper Fastener, New York, NY
2. Boynton's Paper Fastener and Eyelet, The Boynton Eyelet and Paper Fastener Co., New York, NY
3. Universal Paper Fastener, French Self-Fastening Button Co., Brooklyn, NY
Below we present information on Hamilton's and Boynton's paper fasteners.
We have found no other information on a Universal paper fastener during 1867 or the following two decades.
1876 McGill Fasteners Asher & Adams OM.jpg (87123 bytes)
Variety of McGill's fasteners and suspension rings, Asher & Adams, Pictorial Album of American Industry, 1876 McGill's Fasteners box of 8.jpg (87123 bytes)
McGill's Paper Fasteners with patent dates 1875-89 were sold in brass canisters
1874_McGill_Fastener_Punch_and_Box_of_McGill_Patent_Fasteners.jpg (87123 bytes)
Box of McGill's Paper Fasteners This style box was advertised during 1880-97.
1884 McGill's Patent Pin Fasteners OM.jpg (87123 bytes)
McGill's Patent Pin Fasteners, advertised 1883-87 for fastening papers or fabrics

Boynton's Paper Fastener
On market 1867-70
The Boynton Eyelet and Paper Fastener Co., New York, NY

These fasteners were similar to McGill's paper fasteners but included a brass washer. Boynton replied to McGill's charge of patent infringement (see above) with advertising asserting that McGill's patents were invalid and, in any case, not infringed.  Boynton claimed that fasteners like those produced by McGill were imported into the US as early as 1858 and were sold in Europe for several years before 1858.
Boynton sold a press for use in inserting its paper fasteners. See Display No. 2 below.
1867 Boynton's Paper-Fastener Lib Co of Phila OM.jpg (87123 bytes)
Hamilton's Paper Fastener
On market 1867-69
New York, NY
No image available
Jensen Paper Fastener
Patented 1872 by John C. Jensen US Patent No 125,682
According to testimony in an 1889 infringement trial: (1) Jensen "engaged in the manufacture of paper fasteners from 1872 to 1877."
(2) Cameron, Amberg & Co. purchased a controlling interest in the 1872 Jensen patent in 1875 and contracted for construction of machinery and production of 1 million of the Jensen fasteners during 1876. In 1889, Cameron, Amberg still had not sold 450,000 of the 1 million.
(3) In 1876, George W. McGill told Cameron, Amberg that the Jensen fasteners that Cameron, Amberg was selling infringed McGill's patents.
(4) The design of the Jensen fastener sold by Cameron, Amberg beginning in 1876 was essentially the same as the design for which McGill received US Patent No. 337,182 in 1886.
(5) In 1885, Cameron, Amberg transferred to Jensen the machines that Cameron, Amberg had used to make the Jensen fastener in 1876.
(6) Jensen began to manufacture paper fasteners in 1885.
Sources: American Stationer, July 11, 1889, p. 102. The story continues under the heading Universal Paper Fastener below.
No useful image of the Jensen fastener made in the 1870s has been found. However, we know that it looked like one in the 1886 McGill patent diagram shown immediately below.
1886 McGill paper fastener US337182 OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
Brown's Improved Double Point Brass Paper Fastener
Advertised 1876-77
1877 Brown's Paper Fastener advert OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
Universal Paper Fastener
Patented 1888 by John C. Jensen US Patent Nos. 377,029; 377,030; and 377,032
Advertised 1885-97
Universal Paper Fastener Co.
The New Universal Paper Fastener Co. (1897)
Chicago, IL
Jensen was president of the Universal Paper Fastener Co., and in 1889 this company owned the patents awarded to Jensen in 1872 and 1888.
The Universal Paper Fastener Co. still existed in 1907.
1888 Universal Paper Fasteners.jpg (27291 bytes)1893 Universal Paper Fasteners OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
1893 ad
Dennison's Paper Fastener
On market 1897-1923
Named Dennison's Self-Piercing Paper Fasteners during 1909-16
Dennison Manufacturing Co.

At least for some period of time, Dennison did not manufacture paper fasteners but rather sold paper fasteners that it purchased from McGill and others.
In 1889, Jensen sued Dennison for infringement of his 1872 and 1888 patents. (American Stationer, May 16, 1889, p. 1097)
Dennison Paper Fasteners container top.jpg (27291 bytes)Dennisons_Desk_Casket_of_Paper_Fasteners.jpg (27291 bytes)
Dennison's desk casket of paper fasteners
ACCO Fastener
Advertised 1912-Present
American Clip Co.
New York, NY

During 1913-14, the company advertised the ACCO Fastener Punch to punch slits in papers through which the prongs
on the fastener could be inserted. This is addressed in Display No. 2 below.
1912 American Clip Co ACCO Fastener OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
American Clip Co. ad for paper clips and the ACCO fastener, 1912
1920 ACCO Fastener.jpg (27291 bytes)
ACCO Fastener with the Prong Shield Compressor

Paper Fasteners that Users Pinched onto Papers

Acme Fastener
Advertised 1885
Geo. C. Whitney
Worcester, MA
1885 Acme Fastener image 1 OM.jpg (27291 bytes)1885 Acme Fastener image 2 OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
Shell Paper Fastener
Advertised 1889
George W. McGill
Holmes, Booth & Haydens
New York, NY
1889 McGill Shell paper fastener.jpg (27291 bytes)
Best Paper Fastener
Patented 1895 by Samuel Henry Crocker, London, England US Patent No. 547,335
Advertised 1895-96
DeLong Hook & Eye Co.
Philadelphia, PA

From the 1895 patent: "The fastener is stamped from a sheet of thin metal, which is bent over upon itself at about the middle, forming two arms. From one arm of this strip, at or near the end, is stamped a small spike or pointed portion projecting toward the other arm. The latter arm is cupped or formed with a recess, of any suitable shape, so placed that on the two parts being pressed together the spike will enter the recess. This recess is the main feature of the invention, in combination with the spike and special form of the fastener, and allows the fastener to be applied by pressing the arms together with the finger and thumb, causing the spike to penetrate the paper and enter the recess without fear of the point entering the finger or thumb."

Delong also sold Twin Grip Paper Fasteners based on a 1908 patent.
1896 Best Paper Fastener.jpg (27291 bytes) Best Paper Fasteners in box.jpg (27291 bytes)
Boss Clip
Advertised 1896
William B. Johnson & Co.
Pittsburgh, PA
"This clip consists of two disks of soft white plated metal, with a 'Siamese twin' connection, the disks being cup shaped. To fasten papers together the disks are bent so as to inclose a side or corner of the sheets to be connected, and are then pressed down until they bind so closely that they hold firmly. The clip works perfectly and without puncturing or mutilating the papers; it is inexpensive, durable and can be used over and over again."
1896 Boss Clip.jpg (27291 bytes)
Washburne's O.K. Paper Fastener
Patented 1903 by James V. Washburne US Patent No. 731,827
Advertised 1904-28
James V. Washburne, Syracuse, NY (1904-05)
The O.K. Manufacturing Co., Syracuse, NY (1909-28) James V. Washburne was president.

A number of additional companies made paper fasteners that were similar to the Best Paper Fastener and O.K. Paper Fastener but different in subtle details.
Some examples are:
1. Superior Mfg. Co., Sidney, OH, advertised the Superior Paper Fastener during 1907-22, based on patent awarded in 1908.
2. Ideal Specialties Mfg. Co., New York, NY, sold the Improved Superior Paper Fastener during 1914-18 based on the preceding 1908 patent and subsequently also a 1918 patent.
3. Hensel-Mulranen Co., renamed Tip-Top Mfg. Co., Syracuse, NY, sold the Tip Top Paper Fastener (a.k.a. Tip Top Paper Clip) during 1921-25.
4. Argus Mfg. Co., Chicago, IL, advertised the Argus Paper Fastener during 1917-21; this was based on a 1918 patent.
5. A British company made the Ezie Paper Fastener.
6. Noesting sold the Petite Paper Fastener.
1903 Washburne OK Paper Fasteners examples.jpg (27291 bytes) 1903 Washburne OK Paper Fasteners container top.jpg (27291 bytes) 1903 Washburne's OK Paper Fasteners containers in box.jpg (27291 bytes)
Miscellaneous Paper Fasteners that were Pinched Over the Edges of Papers

Paper fasteners pinched over edges of papers.jpg (51112 bytes) 

Paper Fasteners that Users Folded over Corner or Edge of Papers

Middleton Paper Fastener
Patented Apr. 19, 1887, by Ethelbert H. Middleton, US Patent No. 361,439
Advertised 1891-94 and on market 1901
Middleton Paper Fastener Co.
Philadelphia, PA

1887 Middleton Paper Fasteners OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
Three Middletown Paper Fasteners
1887 Ethelbert H Middleton paper fastener.jpg (27291 bytes)
1887 Patent drawing
1891 Middleton Paper Fastener OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
1891 Advertisement
Perfection Paper Fastener
John Walker & Co.
London, England
Described 1893
1893 Perfection Paper Fastener The World's Paper Trade Review Vol 20 Nov 24 p. 27.jpg (27291 bytes)
Bennett Paper Fastener
Patented 1897 by George Howard Bennett US Patent No. 586,003

We have no evidence on whether this paper fastener was manufactured.
1897 Bennett Paper Fastener OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
Bendover Paper Fastener
On market 1899
Bendover Paper Fastener box top OM.jpg (27291 bytes)Bendover Paper Fastener OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
Dixon Paper Fastener
~ Advertised 1899, on market 1904 ~
The 1899 advertisement listed a patent date of March 13, 1894, but we have not been able to find the patent.
Fastens papers "firmly and securely without puncturing or mutilating them in any way."
1899 Dixon Paper Fastener advertisement OM.jpg (27291 bytes)
Tadpole Paper Fastener
Patented 1904 by Richard M Pancoast US Patent No. 758,332
Advertised 1905-06
General Specialty Co.
Philadelphia, PA

Click on the small image to the right. Look at the two images of paper fasteners near the top left corner of the complete advertisement. The image closest to the edges of the ad shows a Tadpole Paper Fastener that has been slipped over a corner of a set of papers, with part of the fastener in front of the papers and part behind them. The image immediately southeast of that first image shows a Tadpole Paper Fastener that has been folded backward; the corner of the set of papers has also been folded backwards.
1905 Tadpole Paper Fastener OM.jpg (27291 bytes)

Display No. 2: Paper Fastener Presses 

Model, Year Introduced, Maker

Click Image to Enlarge
Press for Swartwout's Paper Fastener and Binder
On market 1865-72
Used to cut slits for insertion of Swartwout's Metallic Paper Fastener and Binder (see Display No. 1 above)
Swartwout Mfg. Co., New York, NY
Swarthwouts_Paper_Fastener__Binder_NYC.jpg (87319 bytes)
McGill's Paper Fastener Press
Patented 1867 US Patent No. 67,665
Holmes, Booth & Haydens, New York, NY

1867 McGill Paper Fastener Press US Pat 67665.jpg (23494 bytes)
1867 Patent drawing
Paper_fastener_press_vv_OM.JPG (32940 bytes)

Boynton's Eyelet and Paper Fastener Press
Advertised c. 1867
The Boynton Eyelet and Paper Fastener Co.
New York, NY

This press was used to insert Boynton's paper fasteners, which are addressed in Display No. 1 above.
No image available
Registered Paper Piercer
Registered 1872 (Useful Registered Design Number 5402) ~ Advertised 1873
Johnson Brothers
Birmingham, England
"The utility of this article in superceding the penknife generally used for piercing all kinds of papers, cards, memorandums, briefs, law forms, and all articles where paper fasteners are used, will be obvious."
1872_Registered_Paper_Piercer_Johnson_Bros_Birmingham_England.jpg (24381 bytes)
McGill's Paper Fastener Press
Advertised 1872-1961
Holmes, Booth & Haydens
New York, NY

fastener_plate01.jpg (23494 bytes)

Shaw's Improved Excelsior Eyelet Press
Advertised 1872-73
J.T. Cammeyer
New York, NY

Notwithstanding the name of this press, it was advertised for "clinching paper fasteners."

1873 Shaw's Paper Fastener Press advert.jpg (23494 bytes)

McGill Fastener Punch
Patented 1874 ~ Advertised 1880-1930
Holmes, Booth & Haydens, 
New York, NY
1874 McGill Paper Fastener OM.JPG (9632 bytes)
1874_McGill_paper_fastener_punch.JPG (27138 bytes)
McGill Fastener Press No. 3
Patented 1884 ~ Advertised 1884-85
Homes, Booth & Haydens
New York, NY

This No. 3 machine was used to insert McGill's Pin Fasteners (see above) into stacks of papers up to 2 inches thick.
A No. 2 machine was marketed for even thicker stacks.
1884_McGill_Fastener_Press.jpg (36366 bytes)
Universal Fastener Punch
Advertised 1887
1887_Universal_Paper_Punch_Geo_D_Barnard__Co_St_Louis_catalog Scaglione.jpg (42214 bytes)
1887_Universal_Fastener_Press_1b.JPG (20832 bytes)

Paper Fastener Press Paper_fastener_press_xx.jpg (22327 bytes)
Clover Fastener Press Clover_Paper_Fastener_Press_side_OM.jpg (39845 bytes)
Krahn Punch (a.k.a.Temple Punch)
Patented 1902 by Henry S. Temple
Temple Punch on market 1915-20, Krahn Punch on market 1926-36 
Krahn Mfg. Co., Milwaukee, WI
Subsequently, Geo. J. Meyer Mfg. Co, Milwaukee, WI.
Curiously, the latter company was founded in 1904 to produce bottle washing machinery for the dairy industry and was in that line of business during much of the 20th century.

The 1902 patent diagram shows a punch with a sharp point. The punch was designed to drive the point through a large number of papers and then to hold the papers down while the point was withdrawn. This punch was described in vintage publications as a punch for paper fasteners.
Krahn_Punch_Geo_Myer_Mfg_Co_Milwaukee_WI.jpg (30894 bytes)
McGill's Fastener Press
Advertised 1912, 1930

This is very similar to the McGill's Fastener Press above, but this one has one cup to hold fasteners while the one above has two cups.
1867_McGill_Fastener_Press_One_Hole_XX_a.jpg (60890 bytes)
ACCO Fastener Punch
Advertised 1913-14
American Clip Co. U.S.

This was used to cut slits for insertion of the ACCO fasteners discussed in Display No. 1 above.
1913 ACCO Fastener Punch.jpg (60890 bytes)
Paper Fastener Press
Design Registered 1925
Paper_Fastener_Press_RD_716473_side.jpg (30854 bytes)
Paper_Fastener_Press_RD_716473_side_open.jpg (17114 bytes)

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