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Presto Personal Punches all wm sm

Over the past century there have been a number of single hole punch designs that have been marketed to the public, but few enjoyed the success that the Presto 51-S Personal Paper Punch had.

Perhaps the main reason for this is its compact design.  At .75″ W x  .75″ L x 1″ H it was perhaps the most compact single hole punch ever made.  And it only weighed half an ounce.  Combine that with its all-steel construction and you have a tiny, indestructible, easily carried and stored hole-making machine!  Also, while these were sold individually they were also a part of different sets.  One of these sets included a Presto model 30 mini-stapler and another, a special Presto Desk Kit, came with a Presto DeLuxe stapler.

1936 Globe Gazette Presto Punch Ad wm sm

1936 newspaper advertisement

Over its lifetime there were three distinct versions of the Presto Personal Punch.  Each weighed half an ounce but the measurements for versions 1 and 2 were .75″ W x .875″ L x .875″ H.  So they were ever so slightly longer and taller than the final version.

Presto Personal Punch v1 wm sm

version 1

This is the earliest version of the Personal Punch.  Introduced in 1936 this sold for an average of 10 cents until about 1946. Note the flat punch cap design.

Presto Personal Punch v2 wm sm

version 2

It isn’t known when this version was introduced, but likely in the mid-to-late 1940’s.  However, the only real change between versions 1 and 2 is the punch cap design.  There was a price spike across the board starting in 1947 where the average cost shot up 50% and these sold for 15 cents apiece.  It is possible that this design change coincides with the cost hike.

Presto Personal Punch v3 wm sm

version 3

The earliest known advertisement of this version is from 1952.  At the same time this version was introduced there was another price increase and the average cost per unit climbs to 20 cents.

1942 Chain Store Age Presto Ad wm sm

1942 industry magazine advertisement

1947 Emporia Gazette Presto Ad wm sm

1947 newspaper advertisement

In 1958 the patent for this hole punch was filed and in 1963 it was granted.  This then brings up the odd occurrence of the dating of this punch when inscribed with “PAT PEND”.  In one of the only times this has happened, when you see a punch inscribed with “PAT PEND” it means you have one of the newest manufactured punches, not oldest, since for the first 27 years it was sold without a patent having been granted.

Presto Personal Punch v3 back2 wm sm

version 3A

This version would have been available from approximately 1952 until 1958.

Presto Personal Punch v3 back1 wm sm

version 3B

This version would have been available from approximately 1958, after the patent had been filed, until about 1965, after which no advertisements of any kind could be found for it.  It is likely that while sold in 1964 and 1965 these were inventory closeouts.  During this time the Personal Punch average cost was 25 cents.

1952 Missouri Herald Presto Ad wm sm

1952 newspaper advertisement

All of these punches were chrome-plated.  However, it isn’t unusual to find these with the plating worn off.  It also isn’t unusual to find them with some rust. Don’t let that stop you from picking one of these up though if you come across one.  The all steel construction coupled with a very strong design means that you can clean these up no matter how rusty, maybe add a drop or two of oil, and they will still work.

1964 Ogden Standard Examiner Presto Ad wm sm

1964 newspaper advertisement

Patent and Other Information:


  1. The Merkel Co. (1936, August 20), advertisement, Mason City Globe-Gazette, page 12
  2. Gibbs Peoples Service Stores (1937, September 3), advertisement, Wilkes-Barre Record, page 8
  3. Grand and Toy Catalog (1938), Toronto, Canada, page 124
  4. Utility Supply Co. Catalog (1940), Chicago, IL, page 316
  5. Metal Specialties Manufacturing Co. (1941, August), advertisement, Chain Store Age, page 28
  6. Utility Supply Co. Catalog (1945), Chicago, IL, page 375
  7. Eckdall & McCarty (1947, March 17), advertisement, Emporia Daily Gazette, page 8
  8. Herald Printing Co. (1952, October 31), advertisement, The Missouri Herald, page 22
  9. Thrifty Cut Rate Stores (1960, September 7), advertisement, Long Beach CA Independent, page A-4
  10. Wosco Inc. Catalog (1963), Greensburg, PA, page 9
  11. Wangsgard’s Green Spot Drug Center (1964, August 27), advertisement, Ogden Standard-Examiner, page 7D

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