A Gem of a Paperclip


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For over one hundred years the paperclip has been a ubiquitous part of our lives, used to gather documents together or unfolded to poke into computer drives and mobile phones to release internal mechanisms. They’ve even been used to pick locks and handcuffs. But with the advent of a paperless society with more and more transactions being done online, perhaps the paperclip will gradually fade away and become a curiosity for your grandchildren.

The paperclip we use today has a design so perfectly simple that it seems odd that it once competed with dozens of alternative designs. But the Gem paperclip, yes it does have a name, is the winner of a paperclip war that lasted for best part of a century.

The Gem paperclip first emerged around 1892, competing with many designs from manufacturers keen to get a slice of the office equipment market. They wanted to take advantage of new mass production methods that extruded wire and folded it into unique shapes that they could then patent, believing that the winner of the war would make a financial killing.

But creating a design that was unique and could be patented, was easily made and met the usage criteria presented a challenge. The perfect paperclip had to be easy to slip over a number of pages without catching or tearing them, be lightweight so that it used as little wire as possible and would be strong enough to be reused time and time again.

Many of the solutions were bizarre, look complicated to make, used far too much wire in construction and appear fiendishly difficult to use. Some don’t seen to be strong enough to be endlessly recycled as the Gem is, surely one of the first green products with an infinite lifetime. Despite this they are still churned out by the billion each year, so we must assume that they have a life of their own and after fulfilling their allotted work on Earth, disappear to planet Gem for a quite retirement, in the same solar system as planet BIC where ball point pens disappear.

The Gem has become a much-copied object, made in giant sizes as abstract works of art, as daisy chain styled necklaces and, annoyingly to many people, as the animated helper in Microsoft Word.

Solid Silver Money Clip, GEM Paperclip.

In homage to the Gem, we have created a solid silver version that can be used by paper shuffling billionaires or more feasibly as a silver money clip. It is 2 inches (51mm long) and makes a lovely silver gift. It will be admired by anyone that sees it and of course, now you can tell them the history of the Gem.

Shop Silver Money Clips >

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