Indelible Check Perforator


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indelible check perforator wm sm

Most folks today have heard about, and perhaps even followed, the multitude of court cases surrounding many of our modern computing appliances over the years; Apple versus Microsoft, Xerox versus Apple, Apple versus Samsung, AMD versus Intel – the list goes on and on.

What few realize is that historically when there has been a technological revolution there then follows many legal battles over patents, licensing, etc.  Just as many of today’s tech giants battle it out in courts over such issues as patent infringements, this was also the case during the 19th century industrial/mechanical revolution.

By 1896, ten years after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed-in on the forging of checks, one of the more lucrative new areas of office technology was in the area of check protectors (see S&P Check Protector).  In late 1896, Wesley Manufacturing Company introduced a new protector, the Indelible Check Perforator.

Made from cast iron and steel, the Indelible Check Perforator was a mechanically simple machine.  To operate, you placed your check in between the two rollers by lifting the spring-loaded smaller upper roller.  You would then turn the knobbed head so that the figure you wanted was in place.  The last step was to simply press down firmly and that symbol would then be perforated onto your check.  Once the symbol was perforated onto your check, the device would automatically advance your check one character’s distance ready for the next number.  Where the “indelible” name comes in is that when you depress the head the perforating needles, after penetrating your check, would then press into an inked pad.  When the perforating needles came back through the paper the edges of each individual hole would then be covered in red ink.  This system would make it very difficult to then forge the check by any means.

1897 April New Education ad wm sm

1897 magazine advertisement

When introduced the Indelible cost just $5.  This was lower than many of the other check protectors on the market and in addition it was a high-quality piece.  The Indelible was an immediate success and with that notoriety it took almost no time at all for the first patent infringement lawsuit to be filed.

1897 Feb 25 American Stationer Going to Protect Its Patent wm sm

article from February 1897

The company accused of infringing Wesley Manufacturing’s patents was Rouss Manufacturing Company Inc.  Rouss Manufacturing marketed a check protector called the Royal Automatic Check Protector.  During the entirety of 1897 Wesley Manufacturing posted notices in all of the industry magazines, office suppliers, etc. giving everyone notice that they were going to take legal action against a manufacturer who was infringing on their patents.  The pressure must have been telling because in April 1897 W.J. Coulson of Rouss Manufacturing went so far as to go to the offices of the American Stationer magazine and claim to a reporter ” The Stationer recently had a notice stating that the Wesley Manufacturing Company had notified a Brooklyn manufacturer of the Indelible check protector, who was selling an infringing machine at a cut rate, to stop his operations, and that he had agreed to do so. I am that Brooklyn manufacturer, and I want to say that I am the inventor and originator of the Indelible check perforator: that I made the machine before there was a Wesley Company; that I made it for that company, and when that concern declined to carry out a contract I had with it I made and marketed the machines myself; the company has begun no suit against me; I have been served with no papers, and furthermore there is no patent on the machine; I sell my machine at the same retail price that the company charges for its machine. My machine is the original in every respect, and I am not only the original manufacturer of it, but am the one who originated it.”

Mr. Coulson was technically correct when he stated that there is no patent on the machine.  (side note:  of course, Wesley Manufacturing was at that time claiming six patents and had a seventh that would be granted shortly.  The Circuit Court made it a point however to effectively ignore the first six patents).  However, the patent was filed and was granted a short 2 months later.  It would appear that Mr. Coulson was incorrect on a number of other issues as well because later in 1897 a lawsuit was brought against Rouss Manufacturing Co Inc and on February 25, 1898, the case was heard in the Federal Circuit Court of Pennsylvania.  The Federal Court found that there was a patent infringement and a preliminary injunction was placed against Rouss Manufacturing.

1897 American Stationer Infringers Ad wm sm

1897 industry magazine advertisement

Skip forward about two years and in early 1900 it was being announced by Rouss Manufacturing in all of the industry magazines that the case (and supposed counterclaims) had been settled and that Rouss Manufacturing is now “enabled” to sell the Royal Automatic Check Protector under license from Wesley Manufacturing.

1900 American Stationer Settled ad wm sm

1900  industry magazine advertisement

The Indelible Check Perforator was available from 1896 through at least 1915.  It was made of cast iron and steel and measures 4.5″ L x 4.25″ W x 4.375″ H.  It weighs a hefty 3.5 pounds but was still lighter in weight than much of its competition.

1901 Geyer's Stationer Ad wm sm

1901 industry magazine advertisement

From 1896 to 1900 the Indelible was designed with 11 characters, the numbers 1 through 0 and a dollar sign.  In 1901, a new symbol, a star, was added to the revolving head.  Originally, the Indelible was only available in a japanned body with a nickel-plated head, but in 1902 a fully nickel-plated model began being advertised along with the japanned version.  These variations will help you determine the date of manufacture of an Indelible.

1906 American Stationer ad wm sm

1906 industry magazine ad

Here is a sample of the perforations made by the Indelible.

Perforation Sample wm sm

The red ink being a bit smudgy is my fault.  After 120 years the original ink pad in the Indelible had the consistency of a hard pencil eraser.  I performed a complete “tune-up” and clean out of the Indelible and that included replacing the pad.  However, I used what I had on hand which was not the correct type of felt necessary.  It works great now otherwise and I’ll order a replacement stamp pad which I’ll cut to size and that should fix that issue.  Only then will my checks finally be safe from all of the forgers and grifters still using 19th century technology in an attempt to steal my money.

Patent and Other Information:


  1. Editors (1896, October), The “Indelible” Check Perforator, The Book-Keeper, page 22
  2. Editors (1897, February 25), Going To Protect Its Patent, The American Stationer, page 32
  3. Wesley Mfg Co (1897, March 25), advertisement, The American Stationer, page 24
  4. Editors (1897, March 25), Roundabouts, The American Stationer, page 30
  5. Editors (1897, April 15), Chat By The Way, The American Stationer, page 17
  6. Medical Electric Co (1897, April), advertisement, The New Education, page 4
  7. Editors, The Federal Reporter Volume 87, West Publishing Company ,1897
  8. Editors (1900, February 3), Check Protector Suit Settled, The American Stationer, page 22
  9. Rouss Mfg Co Inc (1900, February 10), advertisement, The American Stationer, page 26
  10. Wesley Mfg Co (1901, February 21), advertisement, Geyer’s Stationer, page 27
  11. Editors (1902, August 16), Check Perforator, The American Stationer, page 48
  12. Wesley Mfg Co (1906, March 24), advertisement, The American Stationer, page 93
  13. FP Burnap Stationery & Printing Co Catalog (1915), Kansas City, MO, page 87


Visit me at and let’s talk about vintage office supplies and equipment.  You can also support the American Stationer by getting my new, updated, 2d edition Hotchkiss Stapler ebook here at Amazon.  For all of you old-skool collectors, get the new 2d edition softcover paperback of my book STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES here at Amazon.  You’ll receive an excellent reference book and some good karma.  And I’ll earn a buck or two (literally) which goes right back into supporting the research costs needed for the American Stationer.

Monarch Stapler


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monarch stapler green wm sm

Starting around the mid-1950’s, Vail Manufacturing started rebranding all of their wares under the Monarch brand name.  As they were known for making basic office supplies you soon had offerings such as Monarch staples, Monarch paper clips, Monarch pins, Monarch thumb tacks and as of 1958 – the Monarch Stapler.

1958 Monarch Stapler Ad Jun 11 wm sm

newspaper ad from June 1958

There are no noticeable differences between the Victor and the Monarch aside from the inscription on the top of the plunger handle.  The Monarch still weighs 1 pound 12 ounces empty and measures 8.25″ L x 2.25″ W x 2.75″ H.  The height of both the Victor and the Monarch are the same.  Any difference is due to how much elasticity remains in the base spring.

monarch box wm sm

Vail Mfg Monarch stapling machine box

When the Monarch was first introduced it came in a number of colors including green, tan, ivory, castle gray, aristocrat red, royal brown, viscount chrome, and 24 kt. gold-plate.  I don’t know for sure if green, ivory, gold or tan also had “monarchist” names for their colors but I’d be surprised if they didn’t.  Baronial tan maybe?  Countess green?

acco monarch plunger wm sm2

The Monarch Stapler was available from Vail Manufacturing from 1958 through the end of 1965.  In January 1966 ACCO acquired Vail Manufacturing and continued to sell the Monarch under the ACCO name until 1971.  Shortly after acquiring Vail Manufacturing, ACCO moved the manufacture of the Monarch to Japan and while it remained a good stapler, it was never quite the same quality.

monarch acco bottom wm sm

the bottom of the base of an ACCO Monarch stapler

Beginning around 1970 ACCO began redesigning their stapler line to a new modern squared design and by 1972 all of their staplers were of similar design and this meant the Monarch no longer fit their aesthetic.

monarch stapler red wm sm

an aristocrat red Monarch stapler

monarch stapler chrome wm sm

a viscount chrome Monarch stapler

vail monarch long-reach stapler wm sm

a viscount chrome long-reach Monarch stapler

Patent and Other Information:


  1. Pantagraph Printing & Stationery Co (1958, June 11), advertisement, The Pantagraph, page 6
  2. Scrantom’s (1960, September 25), advertisement, Democrat and Chronicle, page 46
  3. Horder’s Office Supply Catalog (1961), Chicago, IL
  4. Scrantom’s (1963, September 15), advertisement, Democrat and Chronicle, page 5
  5. Wosco, Inc. Catalog (1963), Greensburg, PA, page 7
  6. McDonald, Stingel and Bush Office Supply Catalog (1964), Saginaw, MI, page 355
  7. Pepp, Dominic (1966, January 4), Acco Plans Expansion, Watertown Daily Times, page 2
  8. Roger A. Podany Office Supplies (1971, October 7), advertisement, Minneapolis Tribune, page 22B

Visit me at and let’s talk about vintage office supplies and equipment.  You can also support the American Stationer by getting my new, updated, 2d edition Hotchkiss Stapler ebook here at Amazon.  For all of you old-skool collectors, get the new 2d edition softcover paperback of my book STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES here at Amazon.  You’ll receive an excellent reference book and some good karma.  And I’ll earn a buck or two (literally) which goes right back into supporting the research costs needed for the American Stationer.

Vail Victor Stapler


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In the early 20th century, no later than by 1919, there was a company called Midland Steel Products Company that manufactured basic office supplies.  They made items such as wire waste baskets, paper trays, thumb tacks, paper clips, pins, etc.  In May 1921 they changed their company name to the Vail Manufacturing Company which was named after their company president, Richard B. Vail Sr.  Vail Sr. died in April 1925 and afterwards his son, Richard B. Vail Jr. took over the company as chairman.  Vail Jr. died in July of 1955 but not before leaving a legacy that would last long after he was gone.

Vail Richard Bernard (Jr) Photo wm

Richard B. Vail Jr.

ad from January 1921 industry magazine

Fast forward almost 30 years from 1921 to 1949 and Vail Manufacturing has filed its first of three patent applications for a stapler.  And they didn’t get just any old engineer to design this stapler for them.  They hired Curt Nyberg who only several years earlier had designed the very successful Presto Staple Remover for Metal Specialties Manufacturing amongst various other items for a  number of different companies.  The first of his three patents for this stapler was granted in May 1951 and by the beginning of 1953 the Victor Stapler is available in office supply catalogs.

ad from June 1921 industry magazine

The Victor Stapler was larger than most desk staplers measuring 8.25″ L x 2.25″ W x 3″ H and weighing 1 pound 12 ounces empty.  The body, plunger, and anvil are made of steel while the base is made from zinc. When introduced it came in several colors including: grey hammerloid, red hammerloid, brown hammerloid, ivory smooth, 18K gold-plated and “chromemaster” (yes, that was the actual color name).  Later on you’d also see them in grey, brown, and green enamel.

1954 newspaper advertisement

The Victor is a very high-quality stapler capable of holding approximately 210 standard-size staples.  But there really are two features that make the Victor stand-out from the crowd and these are the large circular plunger handle and the visible load indicator (part of the pusher assembly) button on each side of the staple guide.  The plunger handle may seem like a design affectation but in actuality it makes it much easier to use the stapler, especially when dealing with a large stack of paper.  The visible load indicator served two purposes.  The first is that it showed you at a glance how many staples remained in your stapler.  The closer the button was to the front of the stapler the fewer staples remained (see figure 1).  The second is that it was the way you opened the stapler so that you could refill it (see figure 1).  Pull the button all the way to the rear and the body would pop open from the staple guide so that you could insert staples or fix jams.  It is a very elegant design and one you would think would be copied more in modern staplers.

figure 1(the staple pusher button is shown above in gold for illustrative purposes only. It’s really chrome just like everything else)

The first known mention of the Victor Stapler is in a 1953 office supply catalog.  However, it is possible that it was introduced up to a year earlier.  The Victor was phased-out by Vail Manufacturing in 1958.  After mid-1958 the only mention of the Victor is in clearance sales.  That wasn’t really the end for this stapler though as by June 1958 Vail Manufacturing was heavily advertising the Monarch Stapler which was a clone of the Victor.

Vail Manufacturing becomes important for essentially two reasons.  One is for its stand-out product the Victor/Monarch Stapler and the second is for the acquisition of the E.H. Hotchkiss Company.

Following is a bit of history and shows how interconnected companies become over time.

  • Vail Manufacturing acquires E.H. Hotchkiss between 1952-1954
  • Swingline acquires Ace Fastener in 1957
  • Swingline merged with Wilson-Jones in 1963
  • ACCO acquires Vail Manufacturing in 1966
  • In 1987 ACCO merged with Swingline

By 1987 Vail, Hotchkiss, Ace, Wilson-Jones, and ACCO are all one with Swingline.

As was noted years ago by Alan Seaver over at Machines of Loving Grace, to paraphrase, since Vail merged with Hotchkiss, then ACCO merged with Vail, and ACCO merged with Swingline, “So in a way, Hotchkiss lives on!”.  Amen Brother.

1958 newspaper advertisement

Patent and Other Information:


  1. Midland Steel Products Co (1919, March), advertisement, American Stationer and Office Outfitter, page 28
  2. Midland Steel Products Co (1921, January), advertisement, Office Appliances the News and Technical Trade Journal of Office Equipment, page 203
  3. editors (1921, May), Chicago Firm Changes Title, American Stationer and Office Outfitter, page 9
  4. Vail Manufacturing Co (1921, June), advertisement, Office Appliances the News and Technical Trade Journal of Office Equipment, page 269
  5. editors (1921, June), “Salmagundi”, Office Appliances the News and Technical Trade Journal of Office Equipment, page 83
  6. Stationers Corporation Catalog (ca1953), Los Angeles, CA page 228
  7. Decker’s (1954, January 6), advertisement, The Philadelphia Inquirer, page 44
  8. Scrantom’s (1958, September 14), advertisement, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, page 9C
  9. Pepp, Dominic (1966, January 4), Acco Plans Expansion, Watertown Daily Times, page 2

Visit me at and let’s talk about vintage office supplies and equipment.  You can also support the American Stationer by getting my new, updated, 2d edition Hotchkiss Stapler ebook here at Amazon.  For all of you old-skool collectors, get the new 2d edition softcover paperback of my book STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES here at Amazon.  You’ll receive an excellent reference book and some good karma.  And I’ll earn a buck or two (literally) which goes right back into supporting the research costs needed for the American Stationer.

S&P Check Protector


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On March 1, 1886 the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the case of Leather Manufacturers’ Bank v. Morgan, 117 U.S. 96.  Essentially, this case stated, amongst other things, that the loss from a forged, or “raised”, check must be paid by the maker of the check and not the bank when in the absence of any suspicious conditions.  When this decision was made it was simply the latest such outcome which reaffirmed previous decisions from lower courts.

Shortly after these court decisions the market for check protectors took-off.  There were other protectors on the market, of course, but many were expensive.  And while many were introduced in the late 1880’s and 1890’s few were as successful as the model designed by Sittmann & Pitt.

Gustav Sittmann and Walter H. Pitt (S. & P.) designed a small and ingenious check protector and promptly submitted an application for patent in September 1893.  In February 1895 they were granted patent 534404.  This check protector was manufactured and sold for approximately 30 years by a number of different companies.

January 1895 industry magazine advertisement

In January 1895 the Nafew-Lovell Co introduced the “Nafew-Lovell Check Protector” to the stationer trade.  By May 1895 this same item was being advertised in newspapers across the United States.  This model was available in japanned black with gold pinstriping and some other minor gold enamel ornamentation.  The front of the protector was marked “The Nafew Lovell Check Protector Havemeyer Building New York”.  It’s initial price was $7.50 which is equal to over $212 in 2018 dollars.

July 1895 industry magazine advertisement

Nafew-Lovell Company was organized in 1894 and incorporated April 1895 to deal in patents, copyrights, etc.  This is the first company to produce what would later come to be known as “The S. & P.”.  By July 1895 the company changed names to the Samuel Nafew Company and at the same time increased the price to $8.50.

There was one other known S&P type check protector that was sold for a short time in 1895.  In August 1895 the Samuel Nafew Company sent out a circular to the trade stating that they own the patent, are producing this check protector, and that others are not genuine and infringements will be followed-up for prosecution.  By the end of the year you saw no more mention of this knock-off machine.

August 1895 trade notice

In early 1896 Samuel Nafew Company reduced the price to $8.00.  In mid-1897 they reduced it again to just $5.00.  This was a time when many other companies were reducing the prices on their check protectors (see Chicago Check Perforator) forcing the Samuel Nafew Company to do the same in order to stay competitive.

Note also that by February 1896 the front of the check protector is labeled “The Nafew Check Protector”.

February 1896 industry magazine advertisement

July 1897 industry magazine advertisement

1899 turned out to be a terrible year for the Samuel Nafew Company.

  • In April 1899 there was a bankruptcy judgment against the Samuel Nafew Company in the state of New York.
  • There was a fire at 390-392 Broadway in Chicago on October 26, 1899 where they had offices and a warehouse and they sustained several thousands of dollars in loss of stock and other items.
  • The sales over the holidays that they were depending on never materialized.
  • In December 1899 Sittmann & Pitt informed Samuel Nafew that if they did not make a reasonable payment on the debt owed to them they would file against them for involuntary bankruptcy. Sittmann & Pitt did just that in January 1900 and by July 1900 they started producing the S.& P. Check Protector under their name.

January 1900 New York Times article

1901 industry magazine advertisement

Sittmann & Pitt manufactured and marketed the S.& P. Check Protector until December 1908.  In January 1909 the “patents and business of the S&P Check Protector” were taken over by the Cushman & Denison Manufacturing Company.  One of the changes that Cushman & Denison made was to now make the S.&P. available in a nickel-plated model.  When they took over manufacture they never changed the label on the front and it always read “The S.& P.”.

1909 industry magazine advertisement

While the price you see in the industry magazines is the suggested retail price, in stationery stores the prices varied.  The following ad from a 1911 newspaper from Arkansas shows a price of $4.50.

1911 newspaper advertisement

By 1921 Cushman & Denison were offering the S. & P. for $10.00.

1921 industry magazine advertisement

The S.& P. Check Protector was available at least until 1924, but likely for a number of years after.  Aside from some cosmetic changes such as with the gold pin striping or the name painted on the front there was very little change over the 30 plus years it was sold.

The S. & P. Check Protector was everything it was advertised to be.  It was a small and very well-built check protector and even if you find one that has been abused over the years it is likely to still work.  It was made of 100% cast iron and steel, weighs 4 pounds, and measures 4.5″ W x 5.844″ L x 5.5″ H.  The S. & P. is a perforator type machine.  A perforator punches a series of pin-sized holes that were in the shape of numbers and symbols.

Patent and Other Information:


  1. editors (1895, January), A New Check Protector, American Stationer, page 118
  2. editors (1895, January 8), New Corporations in Which Brooklyn-ites Have Invested Capital, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 2
  3. Schwaab Stamp & Seal Co (1895, January), advertisement, The American Lawyer, page 2
  4. editors (1895, April), The Nafew-Lovell Check Protector, Scientific American, page 262
  5. Dury & Finney (1895, May 30), advertisement, The Nashville American, page 3
  6. Samuel Nafew Co (1895, July), advertisement, American Stationer, page 163
  7. editors (1895, August), Trade Items, American Stationer, page 326
  8. Samuel Nafew Co (1896, February), advertisement, American Stationer, page 339
  9. Samuel Nafew Co (1897, July), advertisement, American Stationer, page 116
  10. editors (1899, April 12), Judgments, New York Times, page 11
  11. editors (1900, January 7), Petitions In Bankruptcy, New York Times, page 9
  12. Sittmann & Pitt (1901, January), advertisement, American Stationer, page 17
  13. editors (1909, May), Office Appliances, American Exporter, page 94
  14. Cushman & Denison Mfg Co (1909, June), advertisement, American Exporter, page 152
  15. Democrat Printing & Litho Co (1911, June 29), advertisement, The Arkansas Gazette, page 2
  16. Cushman & Denison Mfg Co (1921, January), advertisement, American Stationer and Office Outfitter, page 33
  17. Cushman & Denison Mfg Co (1924, March), advertisement, Office Appliances The Magazine of Office Equipment, page 75

Visit me at and let’s talk about vintage office equipment.  You can also support the American Stationer by getting my new, updated, 2d edition Hotchkiss Stapler ebook here at Amazon.  For all of you old-skool collectors, get the new softcover edition of my book STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES here at Amazon.


Presto Model 40 Stapler


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newspaper ad from 1948. That $1.89 stapler would cost $19.53 in 2018 dollars.



figure 1



bottom of rubber base, note the patent numbers



chrome Presto 40


newspaper ad from 1956


a rather dilapidated Presto 40 Stapler box




This month’s post is courtesy of my trusty Underwood No 5 s/n 2392412-5.  If you go to the Antique Typewriter’s Collectors page on Facebook or on the American Stationer’s Facebook page, then back a month or so you can see a picture of her.  She is my mechanical pride and joy, has a wonderful feel, and types like a charm.  I had her professionally serviced at Cambridge Typewriter about 7 weeks ago and I couldn’t be happier.

Ajax Stapler


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By the late 1930’s there were a number of stapler manufacturers that made high-quality, high-cost staplers.  Companies such as Acme, Arrow, Bostitch, Hotchkiss, Markwell, and Speed Fastener all made ranges of staplers for almost any need.  However, all of their offerings were relatively expensive, especially for your average consumer.  What wasn’t available were low-cost, basic staplers for the buying public.  Enter the newcomers.

Around 1939 Metal Specialties Manufacturing Co and Consolidated Staple Co each introduced low-cost, low-quality, pressed-steel, basic staplers in the Presto DeLuxe and the Flash 3-in-1.  They weren’t the only ones who entered this market though.  Another company by the name of Ajax Tool & Die Co  jumped-in with their offering – the Ajax Streamline Stapler.

newspaper ad from 1939

The Ajax measures 6″ L x 2.25″ W x 3.438″ H and weighs 14 ounces empty.  It was made entirely of pressed steel and had a rubber base cover and a rubber plunger cover.  The Ajax Stapler was available in five different colors:  black, blue, maroon, green, and brown.

Despite being made of the same materials, the Ajax Stapler was superior in almost every way to its similarly built competition.  And while the stated purpose of patent 2,239,935 is “to provide a novel and simplified type of stapler which can readily be manufactured of simple  stampings, requiring few parts, providing substantially complete enclosure for the operating mechanism, and avoiding any possibility of stoppage“, the Ajax Tool & Die manufactured a stapler that was downright primitive in its mechanics.  However, unlike the Presto and Flash it was much more successful in implementing this purpose.  If cost was your main consideration when purchasing a stapler, then the Ajax stapler was the best deal.  There is one feature that is unique to this fastener and that is the retraction spring located on the front.  The purpose of this spring is to retract any partially engaged staples (when you don’t fully press down the plunger) in order to prevent jamming and clogging.  It’s a very simple, but surprisingly effective feature.  I think that is how I would describe the Ajax – very simple but surprisingly effective.

magazine ad from 1940

magazine ad from 1940

The earliest known advertisement is from May 1939 and the last known advertisement is from October 1941.  While it’s possible that you would still have been able to find the Ajax for sale after 1941 it would probably only have been as a clearance item.  Ajax Tool & Die Co seems to have suddenly stopped producing this stapler.  Now, it could have been due to poor sales but as noted the Ajax was a much better quality fastener then its competition.  The most likely explanation for the Ajax Stapler’s demise is because in December 1941 the U.S. officially entered World War II.  Beginning around 1941 all U.S. manufacturers of every kind would have started devoting 90-100% of their production capacity for war material.  Smaller companies like Ajax would have quickly discovered two things; 1. they would make more money manufacturing parts, etc. for the U.S. war effort and; 2. that the materials needed to make consumer goods (i.e. steel in this case) would have been severely rationed making it nearly impossible for them to manufacture enough staplers to make them profitable.  The choice for a smaller operation like Ajax Tool & Die was obvious.

Ajax Tool & Die Co was acquired by Acme Steel in 1947 and by 1948 a variant of the Ajax was being sold by Metal Specialties Manufacturing Co as the Presto 40 stapler.  Great design never really just disappears.

Ajax Stapler box

Patent and Other Information:


  1. Goldblatt Bros. Department Store (1939, May), advertisement, The Hammond Times, page 13
  2. Wasson’s (1939, September), advertisement, The Indianapolis Star, page 7
  3. Famous-Barr Co (1940, January), advertisement, Louis Dispatch, page 3G
  4. Printers Supply Co (1940, April), advertisement, The Rotarian, page 58
  5. Famous-Barr Co (1941, October), advertisement, Louis Dispatch, page 12A

Visit me at and let’s talk about vintage office equipment.  You can also support the American Stationer by getting my new, updated, twice as large, 2d edition ebook here at Amazon.


Markwell RX 45 Fastener


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Markwell is a company with a long and fascinating history.  It began in 1919 when two brothers, Lou and Abe Obstfeld, went into partnership making marking devices.  Both brothers had a background in these industries and wanted to strike out on their own.  As a matter of fact, this manufacturing of marking devices is the origin of the company name, Mark-Well.  Their entry into the stapler business began when they discovered a stapler company, Acme, and contracted with them to make Markwell’s first fastener, the Model 176 Tacker in 1920.  It should be noted that Markwell is still in business today.

In the 1920’s the brothers hired their first employee, William Drypolcher.  William went to night school while employed at Markwell and successfully studied to become an engineer. In 1929 he filed his first patent application which was for a stapler that was later released by Markwell and would end up being called the “RTP”.  He continued filing patents for staplers and stapler-related items, such as staple removers, through the early 1950’s.

newspaper advertisement from February 19, 1935. Note the mention of the RB-2 which is an RTP type stapler but clearly showing an illustration of the RX 45

That brings us to 1934 and a patent that was filed for Mr. Drypolcher on September 19.  This patent wasn’t granted until four years later but Markwell didn’t wait that long to start manufacturing .  The earliest advertisement for the Markwell RX 45 stapler was from February 19, 1935 – only five months from the patent filing date.  It is entirely plausible that manufacturing took place as early as 1934.

1937 magazine ad

The RX 45 was advertised from 1935 to 1943.  It is a light-duty desk stapler that can staple, pin and tack. Weighing 10 ounces empty and measuring 5″ L x 1.875″ W x 3.125″ H it is made entirely of nickel-plated steel.  This all-steel construction coupled with a very utilitarian design made the RX 45 tough and dependable. This stapler was replaced after the war with newer model staplers.

I had mentioned above that Markwell’s earliest fastener, the Model 176, was made for them by Acme.  Starting in the early 1930’s they arranged with the Boston Wire Stitcher Co, or Bostitch, to manufacture all of their staplers for them.  This arrangement continued until 1994 when Bostitch informed Markwell that it would cease manufacturing fasteners for Markwell.

1943 newspaper advertisement

The RX 45 uses a proprietary size staple, coincidentally called the “RX” staple.  They can still be found if you look hard enough.

The RX 45 didn’t get a cool name like “Staple Master” or “Pacemaker” like its younger siblings but that doesn’t take anything away from this great little stapler.  If you find one today it is likely to work just as well now as it did 80 years ago.

Patent and Other Information:


  1. White and Leonard Stationery (1935, February), advertisement, The Salisbury Times, page 8
  2. Deming Drug Co (1937, March), advertisement, The Deming Headlight, page 16
  3. Jeffersonian Democrat (1939, February), advertisement, The Jeffersonian Democrat, page 10
  4. Olney Enterprise (1941, May), advertisement, Olney Enterprise, page 5
  5. Butte Bottlers Supply Co (1943, February), advertisement, Montana Standard, page 2
  6. Opland, Sam (2011, June). Markwell Manufacturing Co Inc Historical Notes. Retrieved from

Visit me at and let’s talk about vintage office equipment.  You can also support the American Stationer by getting my ebook here at Amazon.






The Ring Paper Clip (Rinklips)


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…”I started [collecting paper clips] about two weeks ago and I believe there are 57 varieties – not the pickle kind, either.  Every time I get a new one I drop it into this little box.  I have a clip, a double clip, a clipper clip and rinklip.  I have a cross and a double cross and enough other kinds to form a clip menagerie.  Wonderful where all these fool things come from!

“Some of them are as intricate as a Chinese puzzle and as obstinate as a Missouri mule.  You have to worry along and tease with them, coax and wheedle, pat them on the back as if they were balky animals.  Every time a man gets a piece of wire twisted into some awkward shape he gets a patent of it and sells it as a paper clip.”  selection from Many Paper Clips, Sedalia Democrat-Sentinel, February 7, 1907

The end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century saw a virtual explosion of new patents for the newest type of office item – the paper clip.  It’s odd to think that an everyday item such as this was once a new and exciting addition to the office supply pantheon but it was.  So, why did it take so long for the paperclip to be invented?  This modest office supply could not exist until steel wire with the proper tensity was available along with the machinery to bend this wire into the various shapes used by the makers of these clips.  It was this combination, along with a need for such an item, that made these a staple office item within a few years of their introduction.

While the universally known “gem” clip is the undisputed king of paper clips, there were a surprisingly large number of other designs that have been produced over the years.  One of the more successful clip variants manufactured was the Ring Paper Clip, or Rinklip.

Rinklips were first sold by the Ring Paper Clip Company of Providence, Rhode Island.  They were manufactured by the A.A. Weeks Manufacturing Company.  It may not come as a surprise to learn that the president of the A.A. Weeks Manufacturing Co, Frank A. Weeks, was also the Treasurer of the Ring Paper Clip Company.  Joshua B. Hale is listed on the patents as the inventor of the Rinklip. But not only did J.B. Hale invent the ring clip but also the machine to make them.

ad from 1905 industry magazine

Rinklips were first produced in 1905.  At the time only one size and one design was advertised – the flat-topped ring clip.

ad from 1907 industry magazine

By December 1906 three sizes were available:  little, commercial, and banker.  This turned out to be a clever bit of marketing as all other paper clips used numbers to designate sizes (e.g. the No. 3 Gem Clip).  Commercial Rinklips measured .625″ diameter while Banker Rinklips measured 1″ diameter.  The Little Rinklip was approximately .4″ diameter.

1921 office supply catalog

From 1921 onwards a numbering system was used to designate the different sizes.  These ran from No. 0 to No. 4.  Numbers 2,3, and 4 corresponded directly to the old system of little, commercial, and banker.  Actually, it was common for the No. 4 clips to be called Banker Rinklips throughout its manufacturing history.

If you look on the internet or read books published that discuss the history of paper clips you will find that there is some confusion over the actual inventor of the Ring Clip.  This is understandable and exists for two main reasons:

  1. There is a patent granted to George W. McGill in 1903, patent 731598, wherein he patents a clip design that is similar to the Rinklip.

figures from McGill’s patent 731598

  1. While the patent date is printed on boxes of Rinklips the actual patent number was not easily found nor was it known that there were two patents granted for Rinklips and one additional one for the method of producing them.

The USPTO granted two patents to J.B. Hale and the Ring Paper Clip Company for the Rinklip. Furthermore, George W. McGill was not only a prodigious inventor but a practicing patent attorney and he had shown no reluctance to take people to court over actual and supposed patent infringements in the past – including A.A. Weeks.  However, there is no evidence that he did so in this regard.  The fact that two patents were granted and that G.W. McGill didn’t feel that the production of these clips warranted legal action on his part show that McGill should not be considered the inventor of the Rinklip.

I believe this confusion came about for a few reasons;

  1. The patents for the Rinklip were extremely difficult to find and only recently discovered by me.
  2. The patent for G.W. McGill’s patent was very easily found and shows a very similar clip. Actually, a review of McGill’s patents from around that year will show that he patented virtually every known type of paper clip ever conceived.  Even designs previously patented.
  3. The book “Adventures in Stationery” by James Ward on page 11 states that McGill patented and produced the Ring Clip. I believe it’s possible that McGill produced “a” ring clip, but is not the inventor or producer of the Rinklip.

oakville ring clip box wm sm

Ring paper clips were produced by other companies in later years.  Both Oakville and Monarch were producing them in the 1960’s.  They were widely available at least through the 1980’s and likely for decades beyond.  However, they are essentially extinct today which is unfortunate since they are actually one of the better paper clip designs ever to be produced.

1982 office supply catalog

To fasten paper using a ring clip you don’t insert the same way you would a gem clip.

insert from Rinklip box

Patent and Other Information:


  1. A. Weeks Manufacturing Co. (1905, December), advertisement, Geyer’s Stationer, page 3
  2. Editor, Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. Government Printing Office, 1906
  3. Editor, Big Store for New York, Geyer’s Stationer, page 1, 29 March 1906
  4. Syndicated Author, Many Paper Clips, Sedalia Democrat-Sentinel, page 3, 29 February 1907
  5. FP Burnap Stationery and Printing Co Catalog (1915), Kansas City, MO, page 107
  6. Wesbanco Catalog (1921), Oklahoma City, OK, page 77
  7. McClurg’s Catalog (1936), Chicago, IL, page 184
  8. Utility Supply Co. Catalog (1946), Chicago, IL, page 368
  9. Commercial Stationers and Office Outfitters Co Catalog (1955), Chicago, IL, page 316
  10. Wosco Catalog (1963), Greensburg, PA, page 115
  11. McDonald, Stingel and Bush Office Supply Catalog (1964), Saginaw, MI,page 362
  12. Syndicated Author, Behold the Lowly Paper Clip …It’s Still a ‘Gem’, Quad City Times, pages 12-13, 7 December 1975
  13. Hartford Office Supply Catalog (1982), Hartford, CT, page 5
  14. Ward, James. Adventures in Stationery: a Journey through Your Pencil Case. Profile Books, 2015.

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Acme No 2 Staple Binder


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Probably the most defining characteristic of any Acme stapler is how well-built it is.  I would wager that most of the Acme staplers ever made are probably still around.  And I believe the reason the early models may not get much use any more is entirely due to how difficult it is to find staples that can be used in these models.  They really are just that well-made.

The Acme No 2 Staple Binder is no exception.  The No 2 was made from nickel-plated cast iron and steel.  It was purposely built with fewer parts for simplicity and designed to be easy to fix and maintain.  It measures 11.25″ L x 2.188″ W x 7.5″ H and weighs 3.5 lbs.

This fastener was especially adapted for office work, at least according to all the advertisements.  However, it would have been just as much at home in a commercial or even industrial setting.

1908 ad from industry magazine

This was introduced in 1908 and the last known reference I know of is from 1946.  It used a proprietary size staple with a 7/16 size crown.  I have not found a modern equivalent that will fit in this stapler.

original type staples for Acme No 2

newer type magazine staples for Acme No 2

There were two different “versions” of  the No 2.  Essentially there is an “older” version 1 and a “newer” version 2.  The older version would have used the original type staples while later models of version 1 and all models of version 2 would have been designed to use the newer type staples (see figures above).  It should be noted that there was just one or two extremely minor differences between the models the main one being the cap thumb screw shown in the figure below.  The other noticeable difference being the outside end of the staple push rod.

highlighted is what to look for on the older version

When you hear folks say “they don’t make ’em like they used to” this is what they’re talking about.  The Acme No 2 is well-made, highly decorative, and perfectly designed for its function.  It’s no wonder why they were manufactured for 40 years.

Patent and Other Information:


  1. Editors (1908),Novelties for the Trade Acme Binder No. 2, The American Stationer, page 14
  2. Acme Staple Co. (1912, January), advertisement, Walden’s Stationer and Printer, page 35
  3. Burnap Stationery and Printing Co Catalog (1915), Kansas City, MO, page 111
  4. Acme Staple Co. (1922, October), advertisement, Geyer’s Stationer, page 59
  5. Out West Catalog (1922), Colorado Springs, CO, page 76
  6. McClurg’s Catalog (1935-1936), Chicago, IL, page 181
  7. Utility Supply Co. Catalog (1940), Chicago, IL, page 330
  8. Utility Supply Co. Catalog (1946), Chicago, IL, page 390

Visit me at and let’s talk about vintage office equipment.  You can also support the American Stationer by getting our new eBook here at Amazon.

American Stationer Has Published a Book!


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book cover paperback sm

I’m excited to announce what is the first book of it’s kind ever published; Staplers, Stapling Machines, & Paper Fasteners Volume 1 – Illustrating and Documenting the Hotchkiss Line of Office and Industrial Stapling Machines.  This is currently available as an eBook exclusively on the Amazon Kindle platform and is available here.

I’ve wanted to create something like this for a long time now and decided that now is the time.  Maintaining the American Stationer is expensive both in time and money.  Many non-profit information sites will have a “Donate Now” button or some such trying get folks to help out by giving money.  I didn’t want to go that route.  I’m hoping you’ll help out but I will give you something in return, something I already know that you value because you’re here – knowledge.

By purchasing this book not only will you get material that is not, and will not, be available on the American Stationer, but you get a reference that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

You do not need a Kindle to read this book.  The Amazon Kindle app is freely available for all platforms.

While the book can be read on any kind of device, I’ve purposely designed it so that it will be easily readable on a smartphone.  Why?  When you’re out shopping antique stores, flea markets, auctions, etc. you will now have instant access to information about that antique Hotchkiss/Compo/Jones/Star fastener and can check to see if you already have it in your collection.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited this site over the years, sent me emails, shared information, visited Facebook, and those who commented both on this site and those who have commented and posted to the Facebook page.  I hope this is just the beginning of our journey and that there are many more years and many more posts yet to come!