Object Matters: Paper ClipsA short history of the paper clip.

Object Matters: Paper ClipsA short history of the paper clip.

Designers can be devilish contrarians. In Century Makers—a 1998 book about the 20th century’s most life-changing innovations—David Hillman and David Gibbs praise the paper clip: an object so small and mundane that one would think it unlikely to quicken the pulses of even the most obsessive stationery nerds. But the Davids are not alone in their love of this run-of-the-mill filing aid. In 2004 it sat behind glass in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, as part of their Humble Masterpieces exhibition.

Why has a simple piece of double-looped bent wire been imbued with such celebrity? To understand, it is worth considering some history. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution spread across the globe and commerce boomed. But with progress came paperwork—mounds of letters, invoi...

ISSUE 52

Take a look inside

The full version of this story is only available for subscribers

Want to enjoy full access? Subscribe Now

Subscribe Discover unlimited access to Kinfolk

  • Four print issues of Kinfolk magazine per year, delivered to your door, with twelve-months’ access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

  • Receive twelve-months of all access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

Learn More

Already a Subscriber? Login

Your cart is empty

Your Cart (0)