Starting in about 1949 Wilson-Jones expanded into the business of selling staplers. Most of their staplers ended up being rather basic and plain, but two of them stand out. These are the T-100 Aluminum Stapler and the T-230 Buddy Jr. When the T-100 was introduced in 1949 there was nothing else quite like it on the market. However, as time went on the newer models introduced by Wilson-Jones were unremarkable in almost every way. One of the few bright spots in all this dreariness though was the Buddy Jr.
The Buddy Jr essentially was Wilson-Jones’s answer to the Swingline Tot 50. At 2.813″ L x .75″ W x 1.25″ H and weighing 2 ounces empty it is about the same size and weight as the Tot 50. It uses the same size #10 staples and holds the same amount of staples in it’s magazine. The Buddy Jr did improve on the Tot 50 in several areas. It was made out of 100% steel which made it much more durable and able to tackle much tougher jobs that would ruin a Tot 50. Secondly it has the built in staple remover cleverly integrated into the base. The T-230 was available in red and blue.
There was also a second model of the Buddy Jr, the T-220. This was their “desktop” version of the stapler. The difference between this and the T-230 was only in the base. The T-220 base was designed to mimic the base of a full-size desk stapler, only in miniature. The T-220 weighs 3 ounces empty and measures 2.75″ L x .875″ W x 1.438″ H. The only color combination I’ve seen for this model is a red body with black base.
Herbert W. Marano was the designer behind all of the Wilson-Jones staplers. He was granted at least 23 different design patents all assigned to this one company between 1950 and 1960. Beyond the prolific number of design patents he was granted during the 1950’s not much is known about him.
Within a couple of years of the Buddy Jr stapler being introduced there were several industry items to note:
- Swingline acquires Ace Fastener in 1957
- Swingline makes initial offer to purchase outstanding Wilson Jones common stock in 1958
- Wilson-Jones merges with Swingline in 1963
The above mergers become important when determining the history of the Buddy Jr.
There were two design patents granted for the Buddy Jr, one for each model. Both patent applications were submitted in April 1954 and granted in February 1955. The first known advertisement for the Buddy Jr was in 1955. I’ve never seen a Buddy Jr stamped on the bottom with “pat pend” so I’m confident that both models of the Buddy Jr were introduced in 1955. By 1966 all advertising references to the Buddy Jr are now of the “Ace Buddy Jr”. The last known advertisement for the Ace Buddy Jr was in 1975 giving the Buddy Jr about a 20 year run.
Now, the model T-220 always had the words “Tatum Buddy Jr” stamped into its side. However, the model T-230 had both “Tatum Buddy Jr” and just “Buddy Jr” stamped into its side at different times. I can find no information as to which time period Wilson-Jones would have used “Tatum Buddy Jr” but my opinion is that it would have been used when the model T-230s were introduced. I would guess that no later than when Swingline acquired Wilson-Jones in 1963 that the word “Tatum” was dropped and simply “Buddy Jr” was used. On the model T-230 when the word “Tatum” was removed from the side inscription the model number was also altered to the model 230. In other words they removed the “T” part of the designation.
The Buddy Jr. model 230 was licensed for production in other countries. In at least England and Canada a licensed version of the Buddy Jr. called the Imperial was available. The earliest known advertisement I could find for the Imperial was in 1958 and the latest was in 1967. However, I would not be surprised to find out that it was available for a longer time.
Pictured above in figure 6 are the bottoms of the bases for each of the Buddy Jr. variants that were produced over the years. These variants are:
a. Wilson-Jones model 230 with the words “Buddy Jr” inscribed on the sides
b. Wilson-Jones model T-220 desktop stapler with the words “Tatum Buddy Jr” inscribed
c. Wilson-Jones model T-230 stapler with the words “Tatum Buddy Jr” inscribed
d. The Imperial stapler with the word “Imperial” inscribed
e. The Ace model 230 with the words “Buddy Jr” inscribed.
The Buddy Jr was a high-quality miniature stapler that could stand up to a lot of abuse. However, its days were likely numbered after the merger with Swingline and my opinion is that if the US government hadn’t gone after Swingline for acting like a monopoly and forcing them to split-off Ace then we may have never seen the Buddy Jr again after 1963. That being said, the force of history even back then was towards making staplers cheaper and one way to do that was using plastic. Without a doubt the Tot 50 would have been less expensive to produce than the all steel Buddy Jr. It wouldn’t have taken too many years before the Buddy Jr would have been too expensive to produce when compared to it’s competition and it would probably have lost the tiny staplers war eventually regardless.
Patent and Other Information:
- Weaver’s (1955, December), advertisement, The Sheboygan Press, page 17
- News Office Supply (1956, October), advertisement, The Bryan Daily Eagle, page 3
- Editors (1959, June), Easy Way to Fix Screens, Chicago Daily Tribune, page 2S
- Cunningham (1962, August), advertisement, The Chilliwack Progress, page 8
- Shoppers’ City (1966, August), advertisement, The Minneapolis Star, page 6B
- Cunningham (1967, August), advertisement, The Chilliwack Progress, page 5
- Ames Stationers (1975, January), advertisement, Ames Daily Tribune, page 28
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