From across the Atlantic in London, England, comes today’s item; the Karbonax Bynd-Blot Clipless Paper Fastener and Signature Blotter, or “the B-B”. Although saddled with one of the most awkward product names in memory it was nevertheless a quality item that deserved more success than it received.
Introduced approximately 91 years ago in England by Karbonax Ltd., the B-B was a high-quality multi-function device that was advertised as less expensive than other items available at the time that performed similar functions. It was marketed as a paper fastener, blotter, and paper weight. The fastener portion used the Bump method for fastening so it did not require supplies for that function. As a blotter, you would need blotter paper.
Made of punched pieces of pressed steel this would have been relatively easy to manufacture so it’s claim of being cheaper than any other paper fasteners was likely true. The B-B weighs 8 ounces and measures 3.75″L x 2.125″W x 2.25″ H. It was not particularly large or heavy but it’s built in such a way as to give it a feeling of heft and durability.
The earliest reference I can find in regards to Karbonax Ltd is in October 1919. It is my opinion that the company was formed either in this year or a bit before. Karbonax Ltd. made a number of different office items ranging from hole punches and rulers to note pads and pencil sharpeners. According to the London Gazette Karbonax was out of business by December 1925; not a particularly long run. The B-B was introduced in January 1922. There is no direct evidence of this item being manufactured by other companies so I am confident that this item was made from 1922 to 1925.
It is not unusual for companies to use basic office supplies as a branded give-away for clients. Many companies have done this in the past and one of the most popular items to do this with is staplers and paper fasteners. I had never heard of the B-B being used as an advertising give-away but as you can see from my photo they certainly were. The one in the main photo above was given away by Dunlop Tyres.
The B-B was also sold under the name of “The Puck”. I have no additional information regarding this version of the B-B but I would assume that this was also manufactured by Karbonax Ltd. Perhaps this was rebranded and sold under this name in another English-speaking country. If that’s the case then it would likely have been another commonwealth country, but again that’s opinion. It could also be that Karbonax Ltd realized what an awful name the Bynd-Blot was and this was an effort to breathe new life into their product.
I’ve recently come across a Bynd-Blot that does not have the Karbonax company information listed on the forward part of the base. Instead, it is marked as follows:MADE IN ENGLAND PAT. NO 138044 D. HARPER & CO LTD HOLLOWAY, LONDON. N7 PATENTED ABROAD
D. Harper & Co. was around at the same time as Karbonax and for a good deal longer. And while they sold many stationery items they seemed to be mainly a reseller of these kinds of items. I can find no information on if this was manufactured by D. Harper & Co, perhaps after the demise of Karbonax; or if this was just sold by D. Harper & Co and they had their company information engraved on the front of the base. I can find no evidence either way at this time but I’ll keep looking. It should be noted though that the general rarity of the B-B implies that they were no longer made after 1925.
As an aside I’ve mentioned in other posts about being careful with old iron as it turns brittle with age, and how you should think twice about using some of these older items, and other general warnings. Usually, with a steel item like this you can keep using it. However, with the B-B one of the ways they kept the cost down was to re-engineer the fastening mechanism to use a very small metal spring which resets the tucking arm after each use. The following two pictures will illustrate what I mean:
When I first tested the Harper B-B it seemed to work fine, although it felt a bit off. When I tried it a second time it didn’t. It took me a few moments to track down the issue. I mention this as something to be generally aware of when purchasing any type of old equipment. A lot of these items were actually quite mechanically complicated despite their rather ordinary appearance. So, my advice is this; if you are thinking of purchasing any of these older items and if they have a lot of moving parts, check it at least twice before making your decision. A lot of devices from this era were over-engineered and will work at least once despite being broken or missing parts.
- The London Gazette. Karbonax Limited. London: HMSO, 25 December 1925
- Editors (1922, January). New Clipless Paper Fastener and Blotter. Typewriter Topics the International Office Equipment Magazine, page 132