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If you needed to bind a group of papers together today you would likely either use a clip of some kind (e.g. a paper clip or maybe a binder clip) or you would staple them together.  It’s unlikely you would consider any other method.  However, in the early 20th century your choices were much more diverse.  You might consider a dot of glue/mucilage on each page, a rubber band, a brass McGill paper fastener, a stapler, a paper clip of some kind, needle and thread, an eyelet, or maybe a metal pin.  All of these methods were used and it was mostly personal preference or office policy that determined which a person would use.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most used methods for fastening papers was with a pin.  You would simply fold or pinch the papers a bit and push a pin through them.  The most frequently used type of pin was a common pin but wedge, or bank, pins were just as popular.

from a 1929 office supply catalog

There were a number of machines introduced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to cater to individuals and offices that still used pins. One of the earliest was the Pin Stapling Tool, first advertised in 1896, which took a common pin, cut off the ends, bent it into a staple shape, and then inserted the newly-created staple into the papers.  At the turn of the century a very similar machine, the Century Stapling Machine, performed a very similar function.  However, these machines (and others like them) essentially took pins and turned them into staples.  In 1926 a machine was introduced that took wedge pins and essentially just automated the process of inserting them into papers.  This new machine was the Pinzit.

Measuring 7″ L x 2.375″ W x 5.5″ H and weighing 1 lb 14 ounces this is a substantial machine.  It was nickel-plated and made of steel and another non-ferrous metal, probably aluminum.  It had a felt-covered bottom that kept it from marking furniture.  It used glued-together wedge pins in strips of 25 that were loaded into a magazine which, according to ads, could hold 75 pins.  I have been able to load 100 pins in the machines I have though.  While the Pinzit was envisioned mainly as a paper fastener as evidenced by the patent, it seems to have been used just as much in the clothing industry.  This is likely why it was successful enough to keep being manufactured for as long as it was.

1939 newspaper ad

The Pinzit was first advertised in 1926 and the last known reference is an ad from 1939.  It was offered for $8.50 in 1929. In 2017 dollars that equates to $122.

Pinzit box version 1 (courtesy of Curtis Scaglione)

Pinzit box version 2 front

Pinzit box version 2 reverse

Pinzit box version 3

Much about the Pinzit and about the manufacturers of the Pinzit is unknown.  If you look at the figures above showing various boxes you’ll note that each references a different company.  The following companies are shown:

  • Pinzit Sales Corporation
  • Pinzit Company Inc. 1927, 1930
  • Universal Pin Corporation 1944
  • Universal Pin Company 1927, 1938-1939, 1954

I’ve listed after each company name a year in which I have found a specific third-party reference.  My opinion about these companies is that the Pinzit Company, Pinzit Sales Corp., and any other company name with Pinzit (for example there was a Pinzit Company of New England) was simply a sales organization while Universal Pin Co or Universal Pin Corp were the manufacturers.  It is my further opinion that the Pinzit was first manufactured by the Universal Pin Company which then sometime in the early 1940’s became Universal Pin Corporation and then reverted back to Universal Pin Company sometime after World War 2.  Again, this is speculation but reasonable given the information available.

a group of Pinzit pins and a lone pin for comparison

Samples of Pinzit boxes

pinzit_pin_box_v_1_fp wm sm


photo courtesy of Curtis Scaglione

photo courtesy of Curtis Scaglione

Patent and Other Information:


  1. Editors (1926), J.F. Ryan & Co., American Stationer and Office Manager, page 69
  2. Pinzit Company of New England (1927, June), Employment, Hartford Daily Courant, page 22
  3. Curtis Inc. Office Supply Catalog (1929, March), St. Paul, MN, pages 67 & 90
  4. Universal Pin Co (1939, February), Business Opportunities, Chicago Tribune, part 5 page 11
  5. Universal Pin Corp (1944, November), Help Wanted, Male, Brooklyn Eagle, page 20
  6. Universal Pin Co (1954, November), Employment – Female, Brooklyn Eagle Sun, page 36

Special Thanks:

To Curtis Scaglione for sharing photos of items in his collection.

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