Paper Clip History and Activities

Happy Paper Clip Day! This quirky holiday honors that little piece of wire that keeps papers tidy and organized. According to the Early Office Museum, the first patent for a bent wire paper clip was awarded in the United States to Samuel B. Fay in 1867. The most common type of wire paper clip still in use, the Gem paper clip, was never patented, but it was most likely in production in Britain in the early 1890s by “The Gem Manufacturing Company.” In 1899, a Norwegian inventor named Johan Vaaler was also granted a paper clip patent. His was a wire with only one turn, unlike the more common one which has two turns. To learn more about the history of paperclips and view more than 40 early paperclip designs, visit the Early Office Museum.

Did You Know…? During World War II, Norwegians wore paperclips (originally called “binders”) on their clothes to demonstrate their opposition to Nazism and anti-Semitism. Various sources report Norwegians wearing paperclips on collars, cuffs, and lapels. In his book The Evolution of Useful Things, Henry Petroski wrote: “Norwegians are said to have remembered proudly the humble item’s origins in their country, when during World War II, they ‘fastened paper clips to their jacket lapels to show patriotism and irritate the Germans.'” The seemingly innocuous little paperclip took on a strongly symbolic meaning of solidarity and unity (binding together) against the forces of occupation. Thus, the wearing of paperclips were outlawed and many Norwegians were arrested for the simple act of wearing a paperclip! (Source: The Paperclip Campaign)

Besides holding paper together, there are many other uses for paper clips such as:

Money Clip
Snack Bag Clip
Zipper Pull
Bracelets, Hair Barrettes, and Other Jewelry
Unclogging Glue Bottles
Christmas Tree Ornament Hooks
Fishing Hook

For more ideas, see: 101 Uses for Paperclips

Paper Clip Activities
Paper Clip Art
Paper Clip Crafts for Kids
Paper Clip Jewelry
Floating Paper Clip Experiment
How to Connect Two Paper Clips Without Touching Them
How to Make a Jumping Paper Clip

What is one red paper clip worth? Kyle MacDonald, a 26-year-old blogger from Montreal, set out to trade one red paper clip for something and that thing for something else, over and over again until he had a house! Read One Red Paperclip and visit

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