If you look into the early history of companies that manufactured staplers, you’ll see that there are a number of them that are still in business. Companies such as Bostitch, Swingline (originally a product name of Parrot Speed Fastener Corp.), Arrow and Acme to name a few. But there is another company that can be added to this list, the Ace Fastener Company, and it is this company that’s in the spotlight today
The Ace Fastener Company has been manufacturing stapling machines since 1931. In its history the company has released over 50 different stapler models. However, about half those models are simply modified versions of the other half (such as the long-reach version of the Pilot or the Heavy Duty Ace Clipper). Also, the office/home use staplers that are still available today from Ace Fastener are the same designs that were released back in the 1930’s and 40’s with almost no changes of any kind. This is an incredible testament to enduring design and their high-quality instruments that have kept them in business for so long.
One of the earliest introduced models, although one that is no longer being manufactured, is the Ace Scout Model 202 stapling machine. The Scout was their smaller standard office-use stapler model. There were two basic versions of this model during its run (see note 1).
The first version model 202 was introduced in 1938 and was available until at least 1940. It weighs 12 ounces and measures 4.6875″ L x 1.875″ W x 3.125″ H. It was constructed of chrome-plated steel and is easily identified by its concave backplate.
The second version model 202 was a redesign of the original model 202 and featured a convex backplate. It weighs 10 ounces and measures 4.9375″ L x 1.9375″ W x 3.125″ H. It was constructed of steel and aluminum. In the following picture the aluminum parts can be easily identified by their red color (base and backplate). Note that this model is slightly larger and lighter than the previous version. It was introduced in 1941 and was available at least until 1975. While originally only available in chrome, by 1960 you could purchase these in chrome, copper, red, blue, and green. These colored versions were available with both “ACE” inscribed on the front and with a blank front.
Dating a second version model 202 can be difficult. One clue is to look on the front plate just under the plunger. If the word ACE is imprinted in the square then it was made around 1964 (see above illustration). This is the earliest year I have found of the imprint on the Scout. I’m unsure how long the word ACE was imprinted but my opinion would be that it was until it was no longer being sold in 1975. If the stapler is not imprinted in this way it is likely to be manufactured pre-1964.
Also, from approximately 1943 to 1946 the Ace Fastener Company produced what they called victory staplers. These were their regular models (402 and 202) but with the base made of wood and all steel parts (no aluminum, chromium, or other rationed metals). You’ll also see these referred to as the “Wartime Standard” models. These models had the “V” designation after their model number imprinted on the stapler. Above is an Ace Scout model 202V made during this time.
There are five patents credited to the Ace Scout 202 (see Patent Information below). The first patent, 2033018, was granted in 1936. The fifth, 2107169, was granted in 1938. All models of the Ace Scout model 202 were imprinted with these patent numbers. These patents, however, are actually the patents for not only the Scout, but their other models as well. The fact is, all of these staplers are essentially the same. The only real differences between them are size, staple capacity, stapling-reach, pusher spring mechanism type, and duty-type (i.e. heavy duty vs. light duty). The Scout was described as “A quality all metal stapler, inexpensive yet serviceable. Staples, pins, and tacks. Stapling reach 2 3/8″. Loads 105 No. 200 undulated Scout staples. Chrome finish”. (Ace Fastener Co (~1963), Ace World’s Finest Stapling Machines and Staples… [brochure], Chicago, IL, Ace Fastener Co)
The two men to be credited for these patents are William F. Weber and William G. Pankonin. By 1937 these men were the Vice President and Treasurer of Ace Fastener Corp. I have not been able to find much other information on these men but I do know that William Weber died of a heart attack on June 29, 1942 in Evanston, Illinois.
These staplers are tough as nails and if you find one it is likely to work as well now as on the day it came off the assembly line. Be aware though that the Ace Scout 202 does not use standard staples although they will fit just fine in the staple carrier. You must use the specially designed undulated staples. One of the most common issues found with Scouts is their being jammed by someone who tried to use it with standard staples. I have about a 60% success rate in unjamming Scouts messed-up in this way. If you are unaware, the way to unjam a Scout (or any stapler) is to first remove as many staples as possible from the carrier, then place some kind of solid bar (a screwdriver works well for this) between the carrier and the base and then, using a rubber mallet, hit the plunger very hard. This usually will free up a badly-jammed Scout by forcing out the jammed staple. When I’ve tried to unjam Scouts in the past I’ve been successful with three and ended up destroying two. That is how badly you can mess-up a stapler by using the wrong staples.
The method above will work with any kind of desk stapler, although the mallet would usually be considered a bit of overkill. However, with a scout the internal design for the undulated staples will cause jams that are much tougher than normal to correct.
The Ace Scout uses special undulated staples which are still made today and are easily available on the internet on sites such as ones named after South American rivers. You need to look for Ace Clipper 70001 undulated staples.
UPDATE: In August 2021 I published my newest book Staplers, Stapling Machines, & Paper Fasteners Volume 3: Ace Fastener. In this book you’ll find a greatly updated write-up on the history of the model 202 Scout which includes info on all versions of this stapler!
- US Patent 2033018 – granted 03/03/1936 – inventor William F. Weber
- US Patent 2059021 – granted 10/27/1936 – inventor William G. Pankonin
- US Patent 2066157 – granted 12/29/1936 – inventor William G. Pankonin
- US Patent 2103551 – granted 12/28/1937 – inventor William G. Pankonin
- US Patent 2107169 – granted 02/01/1938 – inventor William F. Weber
- I’ve seen at least two web sites state that there are three models of the Ace Scout. This is not accurate. This “third model” is simply either a first or second version 202 that is missing the protective back plate. All Scouts produced had either a concave or convex backplate.
- See also Great Wall Factory Model 81 Stapler
- Guthman Company (1938, October). advertisement. Popular Mechanics, page 146
- Ace Fastener Co (1941, April). advertisement. The Rotarian, page 68
- Editors (1943, June). For the Stationer. Geyer’s Topics, page 21
- Viquesney’s (1950, January). advertisement. Terre Haute Tribune, Rotograveure Section
- Utility Supply Company Catalog (1952), Chicago, IL page 92
- Commercial Stationers and Office Outfitters Catalog (1955), Chicago, IL page 310
- Ace Fastener Co (circa 1963), Ace World’s Finest Stapling Machines and Staples… [brochure], Chicago, IL, Ace Fastener Co
- McDonald, Stingel and Bush Office Supply Catalog (1964), Saginaw, MI page 349
- The Office Mart (1975, January). advertisement. El Paso Herald, page C2
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