One of the most intriguing office tools ever made, the Ideal Clipless Paper Fastener is a study in contrasts. Made and sold in Japan but marked in English. It has a steel cutting mechanism but the case is made of wood. There is almost no information available about the Ideal Fastener except for a very limited amount of Japanese sources and I’ve never found an English source of information. It was mass-produced but there are enough differences between individual fasteners to show that each one was worked-on by human hands. With a little bit of work, and some luck, you can find this item in Japan and in England (where I’ve purchased several of these) but they are extremely rare and difficult to find anywhere else on earth.
The Ideal Clipless Paper Fastener is what is known as a stapleless stapler. It uses the Bump fastening method which was patented in the U.S. in 1911. The Ideal measures 4.75″ H x 3.125″ W x 1.875″ L and weighs 6.5 ounces. It was manufactured and sold in Japan but also exported to England. As noted above, the case is made of stained wood with the fastening mechanism made of polished steel. From unsubstantiated sources I understand the wood is Japanese Boxwood, but I cannot verify that at this time. The markings on the front and reverse are done in black paint
The two patents listed on the reverse side of the fastener are Japanese patents. They were granted in March and September 1918 respectively. The patents were granted to two different men. The letters CK on the reverse of the fastener seem to be the initials of the two patent holders. If the design of a C superimposed over the K is a trademark as indicated, it would imply that the two patent holders went into business together to manufacture the Ideal Fastener. I’ve been unable to determine fully the names of the patent holders, but the K seems to refer to a Mr. Kuroda who was the author of the later patent.
The Ideal fastener was sold alongside the Clipless Stand Machine (available 1911-1923) and Bump Fasteners in Japan. The latest patent number on the Ideal is from September 1918. Furthermore, there was also an all-steel model of the Ideal Clipless Paper Fastener being sold in 1922. While the available evidence is both sparse and largely circumstantial, I believe the Ideal Clipless Paper Fastener would have been sold from 1919 until about 1923. Furthermore, with the availability of an all-steel model in 1922 it is likely that this newer model would have been introduced as the replacement for the wooden-cased version giving me further reason to believe that this would not have been sold after 1923.
To all my friends and regular readers from Japan; do you have one of the all-metal Ideal Clipless Paper Fasteners? Do you have the model of the Hotchkiss No 1 stapler that was available only in Japan in the 1920’s (see Hotchkiss No 1 Stapler for more info and a picture near the end of the post)? I’m looking for each of these for my collection and would be most grateful if you are willing to sell or trade for these items.
- 1009644 Bump Fastening Method
- Bunshodo Corporation catalog (1922, July), Tokyo, Japan page 45
- Taimichi, (2011), Taisho and Showa Era Stapleless Stapler. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/tai_michi/11216048.html&usg=ALkJrhgdGdkNEjL5h6sEWrJN_4Y9utB2Jg
- Asuka Saeki, (2011), Number 23 Stapleless Stapler Instrument. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://maboroshi-ch.com/maboblog/saeki/2011/04/no23.html
Special thanks to my friend and colleague Shubo Yin. Her generous donation of time and effort in translating items from Japanese into English was instrumental in my research of this item. I wish I had the words to properly express my gratitude, but for now will just say “thank you”. Further thanks and appreciation go to another friend and colleague, Adrienne Medina. Adrienne tapped into her network and was able to find a friend of hers who was also willing to do a bit of Japanese translation. She was also the person who first informed me of Shubo’s language skills. I’m really very fortunate to know such people. Again, thank you both.
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