National Paperclip Day on May 29th each year celebrates a small but handy invention. Yes, even the paperclip has its own day of honor. The day celebrates the well-known piece of curved wire that keeps our papers together and helps us stay organized.
While many may have claimed earlier invention of the paperclip, according to the Early Office Museum, Samuel B. Fay received the first patent for a “bent wire paper clip” in the United States in 1867. The original intention of Fay’s clip was to attach tickets to fabric. However, U.S. patent 64,088 recognized that paperclips could also hold papers together.
As many as 50 others received patents for similar designs before 1899. One other notable name receiving a patent for his paperclip design in the United States was Erlman J. Wright in 1877. At that time, he advertised his clip for use in fastening newspapers.
The Gem paperclip, which was most likely in production in Britain in the early 1870s by The Gem Manufacturing Company, was never patented. It is the most common type of wire paperclip and is still in use today. It was introduced to the United States around 1892, and in 1904, Cushman & Denison registered a trademark for the “Gem” name in connection with paperclips. Paperclips are still sometimes called Gem clips.
Today, paperclips come in various sizes, shapes, and colors and can make your paperwork look more fun and lively.
Paperclips are not just for holding papers together. There are many other things that you can do with them!
- Replace a zipper tab
- Unclog a spray bottle
- Unclog a single-serve coffee maker
- Hem holder
- Emergency hooks for broken necklaces
The Paper Clip Project
During World War II, this small, universal office supply provided a visual method of protest when any outward signs of objection could be dangerous, even in familiar company.
Early in the war, Norwegians were particularly persistent in their development of symbols. The paperclip represented “sticking together” until the Nazis caught on and banned the wearing of paperclips.
According to a March 5, 1941, Provo, Utah newspaper article (The Daily Herald), the Norwegians switched to new symbols quickly as the bans could be issued.
In 1998, a group of middle school students led by language arts teacher Sandra Roberts and associate principal David Smith began a project through a Holocaust education class. The voluntary after-school class, Whitwell Middle School principal Linda Hooper’s idea, would be the foundation for developing tolerance and diversity.
Inspired by the story of the protesting Norwegians and their paperclips, the students began to collect six million paperclips – one paper clip representing one Jew who perished during the Holocaust. Adults today still wrestle with how the Holocaust could even happen. Imagine middle-school students trying to understand the magnitude of such an event on humanity.
The Paper Clip Project gained international attention, and by 2001 the students collected more than 30 million paperclips. The school dedicated a Children’s Holocaust Memorial, which displays an authentic German railcar filled with a portion of the paperclips.
For more information on this inspiring story, the book, and the film that followed, visit www.oneclipatatime.org.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalPaperclipDay
How many paperclips do you use in a day? Share your favorite paperclip tips and ideas using #NationalPaperclipDay to post on social media.
Are you looking for more useful paperclip tips? Check out these 17 Fun and Helpful Ways to Use Paperclips.
NATIONAL PAPERCLIP DAY HISTORY
National Day Calendar continues researching the origins of this paper fastener celebration. While you’re waiting, check out these other uniting celebrations:
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