|Micro spatula and archival bond paper with stainless steel paper clip (photo courtesy Alison Oswald)|
|2. Advertisement and price list for Rockwell-Barnes Company, manufacturer of fasteners, undated. (AC0060-0002300)|
|3. Sample card for McGill’s patent fasteners, Holmes, Booth & Haydens, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Office Equipment series, undated. (AC0060-0002305-01) (front)|
|4. Verso of card above (AC0060-0002305-02)|
Like many things, these fasteners have a fascinating story. George W. McGill (1843-1917), an inventor and patent attorney (how convenient!), invented the first of many metal fasteners in 1866. McGill held over fifty patents, all relating to fasteners. An improvement in metallic paper-fasteners (US 56,587) was McGill’s first patent, issued on January 24, 1866. Several legal cases were based on this 1866 patent and subsequent patents for improvements to fasteners. Holmes, Booth & Haydens, had, under contract, the sole right to manufacture the McGill fasteners. But others in the fastening business were interested too so the trade was fraught with litigation surrounding the McGill patents.
In 1891, McGill sued (McGill Fastener Company vs. Universal Paper Fastener) for infringement upon his patent of 1875 for an improvement in metallic paper-fasteners (US 162,183) and his 1886 patent for the regular flathead “T” paper fastener (US 337,182). These two shank fasteners, with the head covered by a metal cap and bent at right angles, formed a button-like head that was applied in a variety of ways. The courts decided in favor of the Universal Paper Fastener Company, citing the McGill patents void and “want of novelty” and therefore there was no infringement. Despite this legal setback McGill would not be deterred.
McGill stated in his testimony, “I am the pioneer in this fastener line in this country. When I brought out my first device in 1866 I had faith and confidence in the business, and devoted my time, energy and money to its development. I spent $25,000 in making improvements which it took years to make and complete. I studied the needs of the business community, kept in touch with the march of improvement, worked hard to find out precisely what the trade needed, and invented new devices for growing needs and various uses.”
|5. Advertisement for McGill’s Patent Fasteners, manufactured by Holmes, Booth & Haydens, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Office Equipment series, undated. (AC0060-0002303)|
To learn more about our collections, visit the Archives Center.
The American Stationer, Volume, 28, 1890, pages 277, 958.
The American Stationer, Volume, 31, 1892, pages 695 and 745.
The American Stationer, Volume, 33, 1893, pages 202-204.
American Stationer and Office Outfitter, October 13, 1917.
Federal Reporter, Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and Circuit and District Courts of the United States, Volume 48, 1892.
United States Court of Appeals Reports, Volume 47, 1901, pages 296-302.