While staplers have been around since the 19th century, it wasn’t until the early-to-mid 20th century that purpose-made staple removers first appeared. The most common type of staple remover by far is the “jaw” style (see Jac Zagoory Designs T-Rex Skull Staple Remover for an example). This also happens to be one of the oldest designs as well as the most common. However, there have certainly been a number of alternate designs.
One of the more successful of these alternate designs is the Swingline Staple X Tractor. Weighing 1 ounce and measuring 1.75″ L x 1.75″ W x .75″ H, it is light and small. The staple extracting parts are steel while the body is a high-quality plastic. As with all Swingline products this was a well-made item meant to be used regularly.
The Staple X Tractor was patented on March 17, 1953 under U.S. patent number 2631816. This patent was applied for on June 14, 1948. The Staple X Tractor trademark was filed on February 12, 1949, registered on January 15, 1952, and renewed on January 15, 1972. The trademark expired on November 3, 1992.
The earliest reference I can find showing this for sale is in February 1950. The latest is 1964. The black X Tractor above is marked on the bottom with the patent number, however, the green one at the top of the post is marked PATS. PEND. This leads me to believe that the Staple X Tractor was available from about 1948 to at least 1964. With the trademark having been renewed in 1972 it is likely that the Staple X Tractor was available at least until the 1970’s.
Using the Staple X Tractor takes a bit of practice before you’re able to remove a staple without damaging the paper but it certainly isn’t difficult to use. With just a few practice runs you’ll be an expert. Personally, I like using the X Tractor-type removers more than the “jaws” type as I find them neater and more efficient in use.
The Staple X Tractor was sold in four colors; red, green, blue, and grey. There was also a special “executive style” X Tractor available in black and gold.
While Swingline no longer manufactures the X Tractor this type of remover is still being made by Max of Japan and is easily available both online and in some retail stores.
- US Patent 2631816
- Editors, the Trademark File, Trademark Swingline Staple X Tractor. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from http://www.tmfile.com
- Commercial Stationers and Office Outfitters Catalog (1955), Chicago, IL page 308
- McDonald, Stingel & Bush Office Supply Catalog (1964), Saginaw, MI page 354
Visit me at http://www.facebook.com/americanstationer. Let’s talk nerdy about office supplies and equipment