E.L. Sibley Mfg Co Challenge Eyelet Press No 1

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Nowadays if you think of a device for fastening two or more pieces of paper together you are probably picturing a stapler.  But before the stapler came on the scene what did people use?  If you were a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or a government worker you would likely use an eyelet press.

Consumer level eyelet presses were introduced in the 1850’s.  The reason for their popularity in the professions was that an eyelet was much more difficult to remove without also damaging the papers they held.  This provided a layer of security (important even then) ensuring that papers that were fastened together hadn’t been tampered with.

Edward L. Sibley was both a lawyer and a probate judge.  However, his true calling was as an inventor.  After about eight years as a judge in 1886 Mr. Sibley left the law profession to pursue his dream and he opened a tiny manufacturing concern that he named E.L. Sibley Manufacturing Company.  And his first, and longest lived, product was his passion the Challenge Eyelet Press. 

The Challenge Eyelet Press was manufactured using iron and tool steel.  It was designed to be fast, desk-sized, easy to use, and durable.  In all four areas the Challenge was a tremendous success.  The following is from a review of the Challenge and gives instructions on its use:

instructions from 1928 digest entry

It should be noted that the removal process was for the use of the special Challenge eyelets and may not work with other types of eyelets.

 

1912 office supply catalog illustration

As you can see from the above the Challenge enjoyed several advanced features that other presses didn’t have such as punching its own hole and being able to remove the eyelet after it had been fastened.  Another feature this had was its simple and elegant design with a minimum of moving parts.  It meant that coupled with the build quality and materials it almost never needed repair.

While Sibley starting making this eyelet press in 1886/7 the first known advertisement is from 1891.  The Challenge was still being made in 1971 although by that time it was not being advertised.  The trademark expired in 1987 showing that by this time the Challenge was no longer being made.  This is a manufacturing run of over one hundred years with little change being made to the design over that period – a true testament to Sibley’s genius.

1895 newspaper ad

The Challenge is known to have been released in two versions.  The first version, pictured above, weighs 4 pounds 13 ounces and measures 2.5 inches wide by 6 inches long by 12.5 inches in height.  It features gold painted designs on the sides, a gold painted shield on the front, and gold painted “plaques” on each side of the base.  You can date a first version by looking at the front shield.  If it states that it was registered in 1907 then you know it was made after that year.

The second version, pictured below, weighs 4 pounds 4.7 ounces and measures 2.5 inches wide by 5.75 inches long by 12.25 inches in height, making it slightly smaller and lighter than the first version.  It is japanned and features gold painted designs on the sides and a brass plaque on its right side.  This version was introduced on or around 1916.

Challenge Eyelet Press v2

1952 newspaper picture

1918 newspaper ad

1925 newspaper ad

Edward Sibley not only held the patent for the Challenge Eyelet press, but for the eyelets.  He also held at least five other patents for various other items including a stapler similar to the Eveready that was never produced.

E.L. Sibley Mfg Co not only produced the Challenge but also the KO Punch.  They also had other enterprises such as ochre mining and automobile engine remanufacturing amongst others.  During World War 2 they stopped making the Challenge but picked it up again after the war.  During the war they made parts for the war effort.  After the war E.L. Sibley Mfg Co also did subcontract work for jet engine parts.

E.L. Sibley remained a family concern through most of its history.  When Edward Sibley died his son Tarrant became President and when he died his son, Tarrant Sibley II, took over.

Patent and Other Information:

  • Patent 358224 Riveting Machine (filed 03/16/1886, granted 02/22/1887)
  • Patent 358225 Rivet (filed 10/29/1886, granted 02/22/1887)
  • Patent 691012 Eyeleting Machine (filed 04/08/1901, granted 01/14/1902)

Notes:

  1. S. Trademark No. 71499861. (1887/1907/1947). Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  2. S. Trademark No. 71213324. (1887/1925/1945). Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  3. Clarke & Courts, (1891, May), For Sale. The Galveston Daily News, page 5
  4. F. Purnell, (1895, March), advertisement. The Daily Bee, page 3
  5. Cameron, Amberg & Co Stationery Catalogue, (1908), Chicago, Illinois, page 62
  6. Crane & Company Catalogue, (1912), Topeka, Kansas, page 44
  7. Tribune Printing & Supply Co, (1918, September), advertisement. Great Falls Daily Tribune, page 4
  8. Horder’s Inc, (1925, October), advertisement, Chicago Daily Tribune, page 14
  9. Business Machines & Equipment Digest. Chicago, Illinois, Equipment Research Corporation, 1927
  10. McClurg’s Catalog, (1935-1936), Chicago, Illinois, page 182
  11. Editors, (1944, January), Sibley Plant Taken Over By Brandon Firm. The Bennington Evening Banner, pp 1, 5
  12. William J. Burton, (1952, December), Dissatisfied Lawyer Was Founder of Machinery Plant Which Plans Programs of Growth, Expansion. The Evening Banner, page 7
  13. Editors, (1971, June), North Bennington. Bennington Banner, page 8

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  1. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES
  2. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 2 – NEVA-CLOG
  3. NEVA-CLOG STAPLING MACHINES PRICE GUIDE: 2019 EDITION

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A.H. Irvin Co New Irvin Model 2L Stapling Machine

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If E.H. Hotchkiss can be considered the father of the modern stapler, then A.H. Irvin is the “uncle”.  The reason that the Star Automatic Fastener and later the Hotchkiss No 1 became so popular is directly due to the hard work of this formidable salesman.  He was involved with Jones Manufacturing by 1897 and afterwards the E.H. Hotchkiss company, the very beginnings of the strip stapler.  Not only was he instrumental in the success of E.H. Hotchkiss but he is also part of the success of the Compo stapler.  He was successful enough that Hotchkiss ended up acquiring Compo.  Many of the improvements to these various staplers was at his recommendation which made him instrumental in their overall development.

photo from 1902

Alex H. Irvin managed the distribution of these items through his company, the Alex H. Irvin Co.  But one of his lesser known endeavors is the release of his own line of branded stapling machines which included the New Irvin model 2L.

The model 2L was Irvin’s heavy-duty lever operated fastener and rated to staple up to 50 sheets of paper.  It uses strip staples (see below) which are formed from a single piece of metal.  This machine was made of nickel-plated pressed steel which made it both stronger and lighter than its main competition, the Hotchkiss No 2.  Another feature that differentiated the Irvin staplers was that they were put together using screws.  This may seem minor but most staplers were held together with rivets or pins.  This made them impossible to repair without specialized tools.  With the screws, anyone with a screwdriver could take their fastener apart and fix most minor issues themselves.  The 2L measures 10.44 inches long by 2.25 inches wide by 9.25 in height.  It weighs 2 pounds 7.5 ounces empty.

This was manufactured for A.H. Irvin Co by the B. Jahn Manufacturing Co.  Berthold Jahn is one of the inventors listed on the patents for this device and the patents were assigned to his company.  He is actually listed on all of the patents used for the stapling machines released by A.H. Irvin Co.

1921 magazine ad

The New Irvin 2L was released in early 1921 and is known to have been available at least until 1924.  While it is possible it was available after this time it likely wasn’t available much longer than 1924.  It’s a quality machine but it wasn’t heavily advertised and didn’t seem to gain much traction with stationers of the time.

1923 magazine ad

Irvin staple strip

 

Patent and Other Information:

Notes:

  1. Editors, (1903, October), The Story of the Man Who Made the Star Stapler Famous. The Book-Keeper, pp 178-180
  2. Alex H. Irvin Co, (1921, November), advertisement. Walden’s Stationer and Printer, page 45
  3. Alex H. Irvin Co, (1923, May), advertisement, Office Appliances the News and Technical Trade Journal of Office Equipment, page 251
  4. Editors, (1924, March 7), Appliances for Business Office. The Hollywood Daily Citizen, page 5

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  1. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES
  2. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 2 – NEVA-CLOG
  3. NEVA-CLOG STAPLING MACHINES PRICE GUIDE: 2019 EDITION

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Hamilton No 16 Postal Scale

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Tucked away in a small town directly south of Boston, Hamilton Specialties Inc. of Randolph, Massachusetts was the base for a company that specialized in small office and home use postal scales.  This company made a number of different models but one of the most commonly found is the Hamilton  No 16.

The model 16 is a pendulum-type scale that uses a set weight as a counterbalance to the item being weighed.  Simply place your mail on the weighing platform and the dial indicator will give you the weight in ounces up to one pound.

As the surface the scale was placed on could affect the accuracy of any measurements, there is an adjusting screw (see diagram) that will allow you to zero the scale.  Once properly adjusted the scale is quite accurate and works well as a first class letter postal scale.

diagram

The No 16 is a smaller scale measuring 5.5 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches in height.  It weighs 9.6 ounces and is made from pressed steel and aluminum.  The label on the front is made from “vinylite” and was made to be replaceable so that when postal rates changed you could easily update it.

1958 newspaper ad

As noted, this scale is fine for weighing envelopes and small flats, but it was not designed with packages in mind, even small ones.  You could certainly use this to weigh small, light items but if you regularly sent out packages of any size you’d want to purchase a more robust scale for your needs.

The Hamilton No 16 was advertised in the U.S. from 1953 to 1963 but might have been available for a longer time.  With a simple and elegant design coupled with quality materials it’s not unusual to find this scale out in the wild and in good shape.  This can also be considered a “working antique” in that you can pick this up at a vintage store, clean it a bit, adjust it, then place it on your desk and start using it for its intended purpose.  Just make sure to look up current postal rates…

1962 newspaper ad

Notes:

  1. Goldsmith Bros. Stationery Catalogue (1953), New York, NY, page 89
  2. McCloy’s, (1958, March 17), advertisement. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, page 5
  3. PK Smith and Company, (1958, February), advertisement. Petersburg Independent
  4. Dieckhaus Stationers, (1962, March 27), advertisement. The Philadelphia Inquirer, page 5
  5. WOSCO Inc Catalog, (1963), Greensburg, PA, page 248

 

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  1. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES
  2. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 2 – NEVA-CLOG
  3. NEVA-CLOG STAPLING MACHINES PRICE GUIDE: 2019 EDITION

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Bates Staple Remover & Punch

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bates staple remover and punch wm sm

Many folks who collect antique and vintage office equipment tend to specialize.  There are people who only collect typewriters, or fountain pens, or mechanical calculating machines and so on.  And there are also those who collect staplers and paper fastening machines.  But one of the items I’ve mentioned time and again as getting little interest or respect is the lowly staple remover.

As for me, I love ’em!  If I see something unique or unknown I’ll always pick it up.  I find it absolutely fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) the amount of engineering that has been invested into a task like removing a staple.  There isn’t the same amount of variety amongst staple removers as there are for other items but enough that I’ve devoted 5% of my website to them.  And I have to admit that I could easily double that using just some of the removal tools in my collection.

That brings me to this month’s item, the Bates Staple Remover & Punch.  Not only will it remove staples but it is also a 0.25 inch diameter single hole punch.  Multi-tools are often impressively designed but tend to suffer in usability.  A single tool can do a number of different things but generally it won’t do well on any particular task.  There are exceptions though and the Bates Staple Remover & Punch is one of them.  Well, it mostly does ok…

It punches a solitary hole in your papers like a champ.  Perfectly round and with a distinct lack of paper where the hole is.  Exactly what it is supposed to do.  The staple remover also works, but it tends to be a bit rougher on the paper than a claw-type remover would be.  However, on a thick stack of papers it works much better at removing unwanted staples with little damage to said papers.

This tool is made from 100% pressed steel and will be making holes and removing staples for your great-great grandchildren.  It is really a tough little beast with a minimum of moving parts that could ever cause problems.  If you find one in tough shape a little bit of cleaning and a drop or two of oil is likely all it will take to make it serviceable again.

1952 Baltimore Sun Ad wm sm

1952 newspaper ad

The Bates Staple Remover & Punch was advertised from 1952 to 1959.   While it was likely available separately after that year it is known to have been available as part of small stationery sets released by “Valiant” and “Majestic” at least until 1970.  These sets usually consisted of a mini stapler, the Staple Remover & Punch, and a small box of staples in a plastic pouch.

bates staple remover and punch bottom wm sm

The Bates measures 3.4 inches by 0.65 inches by 2 inches and weighs 1.3 ounces.  It will easily fit into a desk drawer, a pouch, school bag, pocket, or brief case.  And if you have a collection of staplers then you really need to have a collection of staple removers too!

 

Patent and Other Information:

  • Patent 2685929 Combined Staple Remover and Punch (filed 01/27/51, granted 08/10/54)

Notes:

  1. Lucas Bros, (1952, February 18), advertisement. The Baltimore Sun, page 13
  2. Stationer Corporation Catalog (1953), Chicago, IL, page 238
  3. Meier & Frank Co, (1959, February 26), advertisement. Capital Journal, page 12
  4. Eaton’s, (1965, November 2), advertisement. The Leader-Post, page 36
  5. Hamlin’s Red Cross Drug Stores, (1970, September 23), advertisement. Press and Sun Bulletin, page 16A

 

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  1. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES
  2. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 2 – NEVA-CLOG
  3. NEVA-CLOG STAPLING MACHINES PRICE GUIDE: 2019 EDITION

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Ace Model 600 Staple Remover

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There can’t be many things as thrilling as a staple remover.  They’re right up there on the list of exciting stuff next to watching paint dry and drinking warm tap water.  At least that’s what some people think about them.  But I disagree.  If they don’t seem particularly exciting it’s because of their ubiquitousness and nearly perfect functional design.  They do exactly what they were designed to do and do it perfectly time after time without issue.

While stapling machines were available since the late 1870’s it wasn’t until around 1916 that you see the first patents for purpose designed staple removing tools.  None of the few patents that came out in the earliest parts of the 20th century made any kind of an impact and this was likely due to the size and toughness of the then standard strip staples.  It wasn’t until the 1930’s that staple removers really started to be an accepted office tool.  It isn’t a coincidence that you begin to see modern-type cohered staples starting in the mid-1920’s and a short few years afterwards staple removers for them.

1937 office supply catalog

And it was during this golden age of staple removal designs that we first see the jaw-type (or claw-type if you prefer) staple remover introduced.  And while everyone seems to make this style of remover today it was originally introduced by Ace Fastener Corp as their Model No 600 Staple Remover.

The first known advertisement for the No 600 was in 1937, although it is known to have been available in 1935.  While nearly impossible to find in the U.S. currently the No 600 remover is actually still being manufactured to this very day.

side-by-side comparison of versions 1, 2, and 3

There are three different versions of the No 600 which are all easily identifiable.

version 1

  • measures 1.5 inches wide by 1.4 inches in height by 2.25 inches long
  • weighs 1 ounce
  • made from 100% steel
  • available starting about 1935 to 1948

version 2

  • measures 1.5 inches wide by 1.6 inches in height by 2.25 inches long
  • weighs 1.75 ounces
  • made from 100% steel, including handles
  • available approximately 1948 to 1950

version 3

  • measures 1.5 inches wide by 1.7 inches in height by 2.25 inches long
  • weighs 1.5 ounces
  • made from steel with plastic handles
  • available 1950 to present

1946 newspaper ad for the Ace Stapler [sic] Remover

1958 newspaper ad

1963 office supply catalog

1978 newspaper ad

1984 newspaper ad

Along with the obvious design differences between the three versions, if you have the original box you can further focus the time when your staple remover was manufactured.  However, the version 3 No 600 did not change from 1950 at least through the 1990’s.  The size, markings, and materials stayed the same throughout this time so without the original box you will not be able to determine an accurate age.

circa 1930’s box (I’m curious as to what a shooting wire staple remover is)

circa 1940’s box

circa 1950’s box

circa 1960’s box

circa 1970’s box

circa 1980’s box

circa 1990’s -present box

In the early 1990’s Ace Fastener Co was acquired by a large Korean company.  From that time forward many of Ace’s historic fasteners were replaced by more modern, plastic designs made in Taiwan, South Korea, and other places.  By the time you get to the early 2000’s almost all Ace staplers are no longer available in the U.S.

Patent and Other Information:

  • Patent 2033050 Tool for Removing Staples (filed 12/12/32, granted 03/03/36)
  • Patent 2596719 Staple Remover (filed 09/02/49, granted 05/13/52)

Notes:

  1. Horder’s Office Supply Catalog (1937), Chicago, IL, page 206
  2. S. Trademark 363,964, (1939, January 17), “ACE”
  3. Standard Printing & Office Supply Store, (1946, April 2), advertisement. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, page 4
  4. Stationer Corporation Catalog (1953), Chicago, IL, page 234
  5. Perry Office Supply Catalog (1963), Syracuse, NY, page 46
  6. Mid-Carolina Office Equipment, (1978, October 16), advertisement. The Times and Democrat, page 9A
  7. New Office Supply, (1984, April 22), advertisement. Green Bay Press-Gazette, page B-9

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  1. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES
  2. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 2 – NEVA-CLOG
  3. NEVA-CLOG STAPLING MACHINES PRICE GUIDE: 2019 EDITION

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Wilson-Jones Tatum T-100 Aluminum Stapler

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Tatum T-100 Stapler wm sm

Part 1

1952 Apr 6 Morning Star Sun Ad wm sm

1952 newspaper ad

Part 2

T-100 box wm sm

T-100 box

HOW TO LOAD STAPLES IN THE T-100

1) Pivot the body 180 degrees rearward as shown in figure 1 below.

Reload Step 1A wm sm

figure 1

2) Locate the feed plate as shown in figure 2.

Reload Step 1B & 6 wm sm

figure 2

3) Open the feed plate (note, on some fasteners the feed plate can be very tight)

Reload Step 2 wm sm

figure 3

4)  With the feed plate open slide out the entire feed assembly.

Reload Step 3 wm sm

figure 4

5) With the feed assembly removed insert staples (with legs pointing upwards) into the magazine.

Reload Step 4 wm sm

figure 5

6) With the staples fully inserted, replace the feed assembly

Reload Step 5 wm sm

figure 6

7)  Close the feed plate (figure 7) and pivot the body 180 degrees forward (figure 8)

Reload Step 1B & 6 wm sm

figure 7

Tatum T-100 Stapler wm sm

figure 8

Patent and Other Information:

Notes:

  1. Wallace Office Equipment, (1950, July 25), advertisement. The Blizzard, page 14
  2. E. Magnell, (1950, October 2), New Products and New Methods. The Hartford Courant, page 7
  3. Delta Office Supply Co, (1952, April 6), advertisement. Valley Morning Star, page 8A
  4. Eggleston Office Equipment Co, (1959, September 6), advertisement. Poughkeepsie Journal, page 10B
  5. Ace Hardware, (1962, October 15), advertisement. Racine Journal-Times, page 8B
  6. American Stationer is 7 years old this month and to celebrate I busted out my SMC Coronet Automatic 12 electric typewriter. It’s dirty, a bit loud, and smells funny, but types like a dream.  I’d fix the first three items but am afraid I’d lose the fourth 🙂

SCM Coronet Automatic 12 typewriter sm

Ace Aceliner Model No 502 Stapler

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Aceliner Stapler v2 green wm sm

One of the criteria you can use to measure success is if something stands the test of time. The Ace Aceliner model 502 was made for over 50 years with almost no changes. I think that qualifies as being very, very successful.

If you have one of these fasteners the reasons for its longevity become readily apparent. Solidly built, surprisingly heavy-duty, and dependable as death and taxes. If that’s all the Aceliner [note 1] had going for it you wouldn’t be surprised by its success. However, add in the unique styling and thoughtful ergonomics and what you end up with is one of the best looking, best built staplers ever made.

1941 Geyer's Topics 1941 June page 41 wm sm

1941 magazine ad

There were a total of four plus versions of the Aceliner manufactured. The first three versions all have the same specifics. Each weighs 1 pound 4 ounces and measures 7.75 inches long by 1.7 inches wide by 2.7 inches in height. They are made with all steel parts which according to literature was “triple-chromed”. There are also two rubber feet and a plastic handle. The handle was made of a plastic known as catalin as was the decorative plastic disc inside the push-rod head [note 2].

The 502 was advertised, and the bottom of the stapler states this as well, as needing Ace no 2025 or 20253 staples. However, the no 2025/20253 staple is exactly the same size as a standard-size staple so standard staples will work just fine. The magazine will hold a full strip of 210 staples. There is also a sliding anvil that will allow you to change between permanent and pin clinches. And of course you can use the Aceliner as a tacker by rotating the base 180 degrees.

1958 Lancaster_Eagle_Gazette_ad wm sm

1958 newspaper ad

1968 Latrobe Bulletin ad wm sm

1968 newspaper ad

One of the questions that often comes up in regards to the Aceliner is how to load it. The Aceliner is a rear-loading machine. To load, simply pull very slightly up and then out on the rear push-rod head. The head is the part on the rear that is a chrome round ring surrounding a colored plastic disc. Pull the rod all the way to the end and then swing it upwards. You can then insert your staples. Very easy once you do it once or twice. There is a button on each side of the body that when depressed allows you to lift the handle as you would with a standard stapler. However, you cannot load staples this way. It just won’t work. The purpose of this feature is to allow access to the inside in order to clear jams or fix any issues that come up with the internal mechanism.

1975 Stevens_Point_Journal_ad wm sm

1975 newspaper ad

1981 The_Palm_Beach_Post_ad wm sm

1981 newspaper ad

The Aceliner was advertised starting in 1941 through at least 1992. These were still being manufactured in 2001 and into the 2000’s but there is very little information about this.  In total there were four plus known versions of the Aceliner. You can determine which version you have by using the following information:

  • Version 1 (1941 – 1961) rounded smooth top, front of body is blank, has three patents listed on bottom of base plus “OTHERS PEND”

Aceliner v1 comparison wm sm

  • Version 2 (1962 – 1971) rounded smooth top, “ACE” etched into front body, has four patents listed on bottom of base plus “OTHERS PEND”

Aceliner v2 comparrison wm sm

  • Version 3 (1971 – 1992) scalloped top with rectangular inset with aceliner logo wm in script molded into it. “ACE” etched into front body.  Along with this, later models of this version will state “USE ONLY ACE NO. 20253 STAPLES”.

Aceliner v3 comparison wm sm

  • Version 4 (approximately 2000’s) same styling as v3 but weighs slightly less at about 1 pound

I’ve also composed the following chart showing which handle colors are known to have been available in which years [note 3].

color chart

Chart Notes:

a) the color names used in 1941 were how they were originally listed by Ace. By 1945 all colors were identified by one word descriptions.

b) year gaps simply signify that I could find no advertisements, catalog listings, official Ace literature, etc. that mentioned available colors.

c) color gaps signify only that no reference could be found to that color in any literature, etc. for that year. In other words, it’s not only possible, but likely, that in 1949 you could purchase an Aceliner with a mahogany, green, or black handle. But nothing official has yet been seen to corroborate this. However, you probably wouldn’t have seen a grey handled Aceliner until 1961.

1992 Telegraph_Forum_ad wm sm

1992 newspaper ad

Aceliner Box v1 wm sm

circa 1941 box

Aceliner Box 1970s wm sm

box from 1974-1981

Aceliner Box of Staples 1940s wm sm

box of Aceliner 2025 staples from 1940’s

Aceliner Box of Staples 1960s noprice wm sm

box of Aceliner 2025 staples from 1960’s

Patent and Other Information:

Notes:

  1. The correct spelling for the no 502 is “Aceliner” not “Ace Liner”. This two-word version probably came about due to the inscription on the bottom of the staplers. ACE was placed above LINER but that was simply due to space limitations.
  2. Even back in the earlier 20th century there were different types of plastic. It’s something of a pet peeve of mine when someone says that old plastic is “bakelite” simply because its old. It seldom is. You especially see this on online auction sites.  It has pretty much the same standing meaning-wise as words such as “rare”, “antique”, “vintage”, and “art deco”.  All these terms along with “bakelite” are essentially meaningless on auction sites.
  3. This chart was compiled using advertisements from periodicals, newspapers, office supply catalog listings, government records, and from official Ace Fastener Corp. marketing materials.
  4. Ace Fastener Corp., (1941, June), advertisement. Geyer’s Topics, page 41
  5. Utility Supply Co Catalog (1945), Chicago, IL, page 383
  6. Paulin’s Inc., (1958, March 28), advertisement. The Latrobe Bulletin, page 9
  7. Ace Fastener Corp. (1962), Ace Staple Selector [brochure], Chicago, IL, Ace Fastener Corp.
  8. Ace Fastener Corp. (1963), Ace World’s Finest Stapling Machines and Staples… [brochure], Chicago, IL, Ace Fastener Corp.
  9. Turner Office Equipment, (1968, February 29), advertisement. The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, page 17
  10. Shirley Office Supply Catalog (1975), Pennsauken, NJ, page 199
  11. Emmons, (1975, July 16), advertisement. Stevens Point Daily Journal, page 18
  12. Halsey & Griffith, (1981, January 27), advertisement. The Palm Beach Post, page A5
  13. Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service, (1982, October 12), Appendix A Price List ACE. The Federal Register, page 1067 (45994)
  14. Beaver Office Products, (1992, December 3), advertisement. The Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum, page 8

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  2. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 2 – NEVA-CLOG
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Bostitch Model B8HC Heavy Duty Vintage-Style Stapler

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bostitch b8hc right side wm sm

Bostitch has recently introduced a stapler form factor that went extinct in the 1980’s.  And this thing looks fantastic!  This style of fastener was first seen in the 1930’s as a reflection of the art deco styled automobiles that took hold of the popular imagination of the time.  Suddenly everything was streamlined, including your stapler.  And now you have a new opportunity to add something stylish and retro-modern to your desk.

This is actually quite refreshing to see as there is nothing else quite like it on the market.  Sure, I’ve seen others release vintage style staplers but they are usually just offering the same product in different colors.  There are some novelty staplers out there but there is a limited market for staplers that look like shoes or skulls.  This stapler is the literal embodiment of the saying “everything old is new again”.

bostitch b8hc left side wm sm

left side

The B8HC weighs one pound empty and measures 7.25 inches long by 2.128 inches wide by 4.25 inches high.  It uses Bostitch B8 PowerCrown staples and holds 210 in the magazine.  As a heavy-duty stapler it is rated to fasten up to 50 sheets of paper.  The B8HC is made almost entirely of steel except for the plastic magazine latch and the rubber base and plunger handle cover.  You can get this stapler in any color you want so long as its black.

This is a front-loading fastener which may be a bit confusing if you haven’t seen it before.  But all you need to do is push the magazine release and the magazine will pop right out.  Place your staples inside and push the magazine back in.  That’s it!

The PowerCrown staples come in two different leg lengths, 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch.  The 1/4 inch staples will allow you to fasten about 30 pages but you’ll need the 3/8 for larger stacks of paper.

Bostitch PowerCrown B8 Staples wm sm

Bostitch B8 PowerCrown staples

I performed some testing loaded with the 1/4 inch PowerCrown staples.  The stapling mechanism works smoothly and with authority.  The ears (the chromed part on the rear connecting the base to the body) might get in the way when tacking as they don’t allow you to place the fastener flat against the wall.  That being said the angle is only 10 degrees so for the vast majority of your tacking needs it will likely be fine.  I was able to fasten 30 sheets of paper with the 1/4 inch staples, but just barely.  That is not a negative criticism as most desk staplers will max out at 20.  I’m confident it will easily fasten 50 pages with the longer leg staples.

staple comparison wm sm

staple comparison

I do have one or two concerns.  For one, while the plunger handle is steel it is attached to a comparatively thin plunger column and I fear that over time it might not stand up to regular use as a heavy-duty stapler.  I can see the possibility of hitting the handle off center (maybe the extreme front or extreme rear) and bending or even snapping the handle off.  If you use it more as a standard desktop stapler I think it will stand up fine.  But I’ve managed offices for a number of decades and can tell you that heavy-duty staplers are generally not treated gently at all.

The second isn’t a concern so much as being a bit picky.  But the plunger handle is flat.  I would have expected this to have some contour or roundness to it much like the fasteners in this style had back in the day.  It would have been both more ergonomic and more in keeping with the art deco styling.

If Bostitch keeps this model in its stable of fasteners (and they should as it’s a winner) I hope that they will consider adding an all-chrome model and maybe some colored-body models on the idea of the 1960’s era Ace Scouts.  A copper colored/plated version of this stapler would be sharp!  And for crying out loud raise the price a buck or two and correct the plunger!

bostitch b8hc diagram wm sm

diagram

You can find the B8HC Heavy Duty Vintage Style fastener for sale on the Bostitch website at https://bostitchoffice.com/vintage-style-stapler-black.html.  It is really a great price and a great stapler which will fill all your standard and heavy duty stapling needs.  You can find all of their other great offerings by going to https://bostitchoffice.com/products/office-supplies.html.

bostitch b8hc in package wm sm

Bostitch B8HC Stapler in packaging

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Bostitch Model B5 Stapler

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To modern eyes, the Bostitch B5 stapler doesn’t seem all that special.  The black crackle enamel, the geometric design with the closest thing to a curve being some 45 degree angles; it’s almost Brutalist in its design aesthetic (although technically Modernist). It looks the part of a strictly industrial tool, like an evolutionary forebear to more modern staplers.  But what it really represented when introduced was the future of staplers.

And that is exactly what the B5 is, the design and mechanical antecedent to which all modern staplers are ultimately based on.  But while the design is one thing, there is another aspect that sets the B5 above all previously manufactured staplers.  Do you see it?  No?  The B5 staple carrier, push assembly, push spring, and the staples themselves are all 100% internal to the stapler.

The internalizing of the mechanics may not seem important, but previous fasteners such as your Acme No 2, your Parrot Speed Fastener Babe, your Hotchkiss 1A, your Arrow A44, your Markwell RX-45, and yes, even your Boston Wire Stitcher model B1 (see note 1) were all open to the elements and all the issues that comes with that.  Oops!  Spilled a little coffee on your stapler?  You may have ruined it and when you try to clean it out the parts will likely rust and become forever sticky.  Leave your stapler on your desktop?  Well, it won’t be long until dust and other pollutants collect on the mechanisms and start affecting the operation of your stapler.  And if there are smokers around (remember, this is the early 20th century) you can be sure that the nicotine will act as a glue for dust and other detritus that will gum up your stapler.  There is a reason why most every ribbon spring you see today on these older staplers have spots of rust, even if they’ve been well taken care of for their entire existence.

model B5B

Many staplers of the era were well-built but the Bostitch B5 fastener took it up a notch.  Cast iron has a tendency to get brittle and is heavy but the B5 is made from steel.  There were other staplers on the market made with steel parts also, but the B5 was made from 100% steel (note 2) and it was a high-quality, thicker than usual steel.  It measures 2.2 inches wide by 7 inches long by 3.25 inches high and weighs 1.5 pounds.   That puts it at about the size and weight of a modern all-metal stapler.  It has a 4.25 inch throat which is actually deeper than most modern staplers.

The B5 is a front-loading stapler which can hold 210 standard-size staples.  You simply open the “gate” on the front by pulling it upwards and outwards then it will swing open.  Push in the staples and close the “gate” and you are ready to staple.  The anvil on the B5 only allowed for permanent clinching although a variant was available very early on that had an adjustable anvil with two settings.  There is a button on the bottom of the body that when pushed unlocks the body and allows you to rotate the base 180 degrees so that it can be used as a tacker.

The Bostitch B5 fastener only ever came in two colors:  black crackle and grey crackle.  While the black crackle finish was available during the entire manufacturing run of this stapler the earliest reference I can find to the grey crackle finish is 1963.  However, it is entirely possible that this finish was available in the 1950’s but not any earlier.

newspaper advertisement from 1935

The first known advertisement was in 1935 and the latest mention was from a Bostitch pamphlet released in 1986.  It is possible that the B5 was available two to three years after this time period but is unlikely to have been available much before 1935.  Towards the 1980’s Bostitch wasn’t making much effort marketing this stapler and it was no longer widely available from office suppliers so it is difficult to determine when production of the B5 ceased.

newspaper advertisement from 1939

Bostitch was first established in 1896 as the Boston Wire Stitcher Company just outside of Boston, Massachusetts and is still in business today in nearby Rhode Island.  The word Bostitch is a portmanteau of “Boston” and “Stitcher” and was used so extensively and was so well-known that in 1948 the company decided to rename itself.

A brief history of some important dates in the Bostitch story:

  • 1896 – Boston Wire Stitcher Company formed in Arlington, Massachusetts
  • 1904 – production moved to East Greenwich, Rhode Island
  • 1920 – October 26 “BOSTITCH” trademark registered – first use of the term listed as November 1919
  • 1930 – Bostitch Sales Company formed and located in East Greenwich, Rhode Island
  • 1948 – Boston Wire Stitcher Company officially changes name to Bostitch
  • 1957 – Bostitch headquarters moved to East Greenwich, Rhode Island
  • 1966 – Textron acquires Bostitch
  • 1986 – Stanley acquires Bostitch from Textron

newspaper advertisement from 1969

As the style of the B5 stapler did not change over the years, it can be difficult to date one.  Look for the following tells:

  • The earliest B5’s had an anvil that was as wide as the base (see figure 1), by 1940 it was reduced to the smaller size seen in the pictures here.
  • Look on the bottom of the base, if it has “Boston Wire Stitcher Co” inscribed it will have been manufactured between 1935 and 1948 (see figure 2). If it states “Bostitch” then it will have been 1948 or later (see figure 3).
  • Towards the end of production Bostitch stopped inscribing patent numbers on the bottom of the base.
  • Earlier produced models through at least the 1950’s had two screws in the rear of the base holding on the two rubber feet on the bottom. Later models did not have these screws attached from the top to the rubber feet.
  • Earlier produced models used crackle paint on all surfaces except for the bottom of the base. The base bottom was painted in a smooth enamel.  Later manufactured models used crackle paint on all surfaces including the base bottom.
  • Around the 1940’s on the top of the base the words TRADE MARK BOSTITCH REG U.S. PAT. OFF. were painted in high-contrast yellow paint.

figure 1: the anvil for the initial version of the B5 highlighted in yellow

figure 2

figure 3

There were a number of variant models of the B5 available that were released over the years:

  • B5
  • B5B
  • B5D
  • B5J
  • B5T (tacker)
  • B5P (plier type)
  • B5-12 (long reach with 12 inch throat)
  • B5-18 (long reach with 18 inch throat)

The B5 was also used in the Model 4 electromagnetic stapler and in the Model B5E3J Bostomatic electric stapler.

page from 1955 office supply catalog illustrating different model B5’s

The Bostitch B5 is an excellent stapler and were made for so long that they tend to be easy to find.  As they also use standard size modern staples if you can find one in good condition they will make an excellent addition to your vintage office setup.

Patent and Other Information:

Notes:

  1. I’ll qualify this statement by saying that most pre 1930 magazine stapling machines were not fully enclosed. I’d say all pre 1930 magazine stapling machines but despite an exhaustive review of models it is possible there is one that had a fully enclosed mechanism and staple guide that I missed.  Unlikely, but possible.
  2. Again, to be pedantic the Bostitch B5 fastener had a plastic strike cap and rubber feet. These parts of course aren’t steel – but they’re also not necessary for the operation of the stapler.
  3. “A Legacy Brand History”, Bostitch, Stanley Black & Decker Inc., https://bostitchoffice.com/history/
  4. Bostitch Sales Co, (1935, October 6), advertisement. The San Francisco Examiner, page 22
  5. The Weatherford News, (1939, July 27), advertisement. The Weatherford News, page 5
  6. Utility Supply Co Catalog (1940), Chicago, IL, page 328
  7. Utility Supply Co Catalog (1945), Chicago, IL, page 389
  8. Utility Supply Co Catalog (1950), Chicago, IL, page 373
  9. Standard Stationery Supply Co Catalog (1955), Chicago, IL, page 311
  10. L. Moylan Co, (1960, March 22), advertisement. Guam Daily News, page 3
  11. McDonald, Stingel & Bush Office Supply Co Catalog (1964), Saginaw, MI, page 360
  12. Associated Press (1966, August 3), $64 Million Set In Stock Trade, Newport Daily News, page 24
  13. Whitehorse Star, (1969, January 20), advertisement. The Whitehorse Star, page 14
  14. Shirley Office Supply Co Catalog (1975), Pennsauken, NJ, page 202
  15. Brogan, Jan (1985, August 30), Textron Plans to Sell Bostitch, 2 Other Units in Debt-Cutting Move, The Providence Journal, page A-11
  16. Bostitch Sales Co (1986 circa), advertising brochure, Fasten It Better and Faster with Bostitch Staplers and Staples

 

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Parrot Speed Fastener Corp. No. 3 Speed Fastener

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Starting in the late 1930’s a new design aesthetic in stapling machines begins to be seen in the U.S.  Influenced by the then decades old art deco movement you begin to find fasteners featuring a convex sweeping body design.  By 1941 there were a number of staplers sharing this style including:

But one of the first to feature this new style was the Swingline No 3 Speed Fastener.  First available in 1937 the No 3 (and its larger sibling the No 4) was an instant success.  But its success wasn’t simply based on looks.  The No 3 introduced a revolutionary new mechanism.  When you opened the top of the stapler the block was automatically moved to the rear by a spring so that you simply laid in the staples and then closed the top.  Sound familiar?  This is how every desktop stapler made today works.  But it was first introduced with the No 3.

The No 3 Swingline Speed Fastener measures 6 inches long by 2 inches wide by 4 inches high, has a 2.25 inch throat and weighs 1 pound empty.  It is comprised of a steel body, plastic plunger handle mounted on a steel platform, and a zinc alloy base.  It holds 105 standard size staples and is an easy to find stapler so this is a good choice for those looking for a practical vintage stapler to use for your vintage desk setup.

1938 Office Supply Catalog

The No 3 was first available in 1937 and they were sold in office supply catalogs at least until 1969.  The now ubiquitous model 747 was introduced by Swingline in 1970 and quickly became its flagship offering.  It is unlikely the No 3 was available after 1969.  However, it should be noted that its sibling, the No 4, was available as late as 1982.

DATING CLUES:

There are two main ways to determine the timeframe of manufacture of your No 3.  The first is color:

  • 1930’s chrome and black crackle
  • 1940’s black crackle
  • 1950’s grey crackle
  • 1960’s jade, topaz, and grey all in smooth enamel

It should be noted that using color for dating isn’t exact but it does get you “in the ballpark”.

The second way to determine age is to look on the bottom of the base and see which company manufactured it:

  • The Parrot Speed Fastener Corp begins in 1925 (but the No 3 wasn’t introduced until 1937)
  • In 1939 the Parrot Speed Fastener Co changes names to Speed Fastener
  • In 1956 Speed Fastener changes names once again to Swingline

The No 3 was produced prior to the patents being granted so you can find fasteners that show “PAT PENDG” on the bottom of the base which dates it to between 1937 and 1938.  Otherwise, the patent numbers on the bottom mean it was manufactured after 1938.

There was also a model 3C introduced during the war and available during the early to mid 1940’s.  This model was all steel and had a wood base that was usually painted black.  This model was only around during this time.

Use of the above should allow you to get within a 10 year period of manufacture of your stapler.

1942 Montgomery Ward catalog

Note the lack of any brand markings in the Montgomery Ward catalog illustration above.  This is indeed a No 3 but sold by Montgomery Ward as Ward’s Stapling Machine.  It is unknown if Montgomery Ward used Swingline packaging or if they used Ward-specific packaging for this stapler.

1945 newspaper ad

1961 magazine ad

1963 newspaper ad

the earliest version of a Swingline 3 box

To load the model 3 with staples, simply push the butterfly locking latch forward and the body will pop open.  Place your staples in the magazine and close the body.  That’s it!

swingline no 3 open wm sm

swingline no 3 latch wm sm

close up of the butterfly locking latch and wing

Patent and Other Information:

Notes:

  1. Grand & Toy Catalog, Inc. (1938), Toronto, Ont, Canada, page 76
  2. Montgomery Ward Catalog (1942), Chicago, IL page 725
  3. Commercial Printers Ltd, (1945, March 31), advertisement. The Leader-Post, page 10
  4. Goldsmith Bros Stationery Catalog (1953), New York, NY, page 86
  5. Swingline Inc (1961, June). advertisement. Modern Stationer & Office Equipment Dealer, page 33
  6. McCloy’s, (1963, January 2), advertisement. The Pittsburgh Press, page 13
  7. Perry Office Supply Catalog (1963), Syracuse, NY, page 47
  8. Arrow Office Supply Co Catalog (1969), Chicago, IL page 187

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