The Twirlit Paper Drill is a hollow steel drill with a sharp cutting edge operated by a simple thumb screw type bar under tremendous leverage and mounted on a solid cast iron base.
The average paper hole punch uses a lever mechanism to move one or more solid punches through paper. While fast and efficient it is limited to generally 20 to 50 sheets of paper at a time. And the more pieces of paper to be punched the more effort is required to punch it.
The beauty of the Twirlit is the hollow drill at the end of a screw operated by “twirling” the chrome plated bar. This design means you don’t have to apply constant pressure, the screw mechanism does that. The hollow drill mechanism means that the pressure from compressing the papers while drilling is released making the drilling easier than with a solid punch. The Twirlit has a half inch mouth and you can fill that to capacity with paper and you will be able to punch a hole through every single piece. To put that in perspective, a half inch of paper would convert to roughly 100 pieces of glossy 20 lb copier paper.
For any of you out there who regularly work with paper files, you can immediately see the downside of the thumb screw mechanism which is it must be twirled. If you have a small job or many small jobs throughout a day then this mechanism will be both tiring and inefficient. It’s strength is for really tough jobs of punching a hole in very difficult, tough materials or in a large stack of papers.
In 1930 Mitchell Binder Co (later Mitchell Corp.) of Hagerstown, Maryland releases the Twirlit Paper Drill. The Twirlit was manufactured by four different companies over its lifetime but always it was made in Hagerstown. The four companies were:
- Mitchell Corp.
- Duvinage Corp.
- Saber Sales Co.
- Reisner Inc.
The history of ownership, as best I can determine, is as follows:
- 1930 Mitchell introduces the Twirlit
- 1953 Duvinage purchased Twirlit division from Mitchell
- 1971 Duvinage still producing the Twirlit
- Sometime between late 1972 and 1974 W.H. Reisner Mfg Co changes names to Reisner, Inc.
- 1975 Twirlit made by Saber Sales available in office supply catalogs
- Sometime after 1975 it is believed that Reisner Inc began producing the Twirlit
- 1996 Reisner closed its Hagerstown, Maryland plant and moved operations to Erie, Pennsylvania, meaning this was the last possible year of manufacture for the Twirlit
All-in-all, we know that the Twirlit was manufactured for at least 45 years and very likely longer. It’s interesting to note that there is no evidence that the Twirlit was ever patented or that a patent was applied for.
The Twirlit Junior measures 4.188″ W x 3.125″ L x 2.5″ H and weighs 22 ounces. It is made from iron, steel, and probably zinc and has rubber feet.
The earliest iteration of the single hole punch Twirlit made was the Model 100 series. This model was sold at least through 1937. As you can see in the picture above it is essentially the same as the junior but with some minor style differences and an olive green color. The materials used and the general measurements are almost the same. There were four models of the Series 100 and they differed by hole punch size.
- 108 – 1/4 inch hole
- 109 – 9/32 inch hole
- 111 – 11/32 inch hole
- 113 – 13/32 inch hole
The bottom of the base on the Series 100 will not have the exact model number embossed or printed but will simply have a “100” as shown in the picture below.
The Twirlit Junior also came in four models and like the Series 100 were differentiated by punch size:
- 401 – 1/4 inch hole
- 402 – 9/32 inch hole
- 403 – 11/32 inch hole
- 404 – 13/32 inch hole
Unlike the Series 100, the Junior will have the model number either inscribed or painted on the bottom of the base.
- Horder’s Inc. (1930 circa), advertising brochure, Twirlit
- Editors (1953, September 14), Mitchell Corp. Doing Contract Machine Work, The Daily Mail, page 7
- Editors (1957, January 19), Duvinage Leads Field In Spiral Stairs Production, The Morning Herald, page 13
- Perry Office Supply Catalog (1963), Syracuse, NY, page 58
- Wosco Catalog (1963), Greensburg, PA, page 12
- Arrow Office Supply Catalog (1969), Chicago, IL, page 196
- Peggy Costion and Sandra McKee (1971, January 20), Economic Slowdown Hits Local Business, The Daily Mail, page 12
- Duvinage Corp. (1971, October 28), advertisement, The Herald-Mail, page 20
- Editors (1974, February 18), Reisner, Inc Expands to Two Divisions, The Daily Mail, page 2
- Shirley Office Supply Catalog (1975), Pennsauken, NJ, page 206
- Dave Cottingham (1976, December 11), Main Street, The Daily Mail, Second Section
- Editors (1996, May 30), Organ-making Plant in Hagerstown will Close Tomorrow, The Sun, page 2c
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