One of the criteria you can use to measure success is if something stands the test of time. The Ace Aceliner model 502 was made for over 50 years with almost no changes. I think that qualifies as being very, very successful.
If you have one of these fasteners the reasons for its longevity become readily apparent. Solidly built, surprisingly heavy-duty, and dependable as death and taxes. If that’s all the Aceliner [note 1] had going for it you wouldn’t be surprised by its success. However, add in the unique styling and thoughtful ergonomics and what you end up with is one of the best looking, best built staplers ever made.
There were a total of four plus versions of the Aceliner manufactured. The first versions all have the same specifics. Each weighs 1 pound 4 ounces and measures 7.75 inches long by 1.7 inches wide by 2.7 inches in height. They are made with all steel parts which according to literature was “triple-chromed”. There are also two rubber feet and a plastic handle. The handle was made of a plastic known as catalin as was the decorative plastic disc inside the push-rod head [note 2].
The 502 was advertised, and the bottom of the stapler states this as well, as needing Ace no 2025 or 20253 staples. However, the no 2025/20253 staple is exactly the same size as a standard-size staple so standard staples will work just fine. The magazine will hold a full strip of 210 staples. There is also a sliding anvil that will allow you to change between permanent and pin clinches. And of course you can use the Aceliner as a tacker by rotating the base 180 degrees.
One of the questions that often comes up in regards to the Aceliner is how to load it. The Aceliner is a rear-loading machine. To load, simply pull very slightly up and then out on the rear push-rod head. The head is the part on the rear that is a chrome round ring surrounding a colored plastic disc. Pull the rod all the way to the end and then swing it upwards. You can then insert your staples. Very easy once you do it once or twice. There is a button on each side of the body that when depressed allows you to lift the handle as you would with a standard stapler. However, you cannot load staples this way. The purpose of this feature is to allow access to the inside in order to clear jams or fix any issues that come up with the internal mechanism.
The Aceliner was advertised starting in 1941 through at least 1992. These were still being manufactured in 2001 and into the 2000’s but there is very little information about this. In total there were four plus known versions of the Aceliner. You can determine which version you have by using the following information:
- Version 1 (1941 – 1961) rounded smooth top, front of body is blank, has three patents listed on bottom of base plus “OTHERS PEND”
- Version 2 (1962 – 1971) rounded smooth top, “ACE” etched into front body, has four patents listed on bottom of base plus “OTHERS PEND”
- Version 3 (1971 – 1992) scalloped top with rectangular inset with in script molded into it. “ACE” etched into front body. Along with this, later models of this version will state “USE ONLY ACE NO. 20253 STAPLES”.
- Version 4 (approximately 2000’s) same styling as v3 but weighs slightly less at about 1 pound
I’ve also composed the following chart showing which handle colors are known to have been available in which years [note 3].
a) the color names used in 1941 were how they were originally listed by Ace. By 1945 all colors were identified by one word descriptions.
b) year gaps simply signify that I could find no advertisements, catalog listings, official Ace literature, etc. that mentioned available colors.
c) color gaps signify only that no reference could be found to that color in any literature, etc. for that year. In other words, it’s not only possible, but likely, that in 1949 you could purchase an Aceliner with a mahogany, green, or black handle. But nothing official has yet been seen to corroborate this. However, you probably wouldn’t have seen a grey handled Aceliner until 1961.
UPDATE: In August 2021 I published my newest book Staplers, Stapling Machines, & Paper Fasteners Volume 3: Ace Fastener. In this book you’ll find a greatly updated write-up on the history of the model 502 Aceliner which includes info on all TEN versions of this stapler!
Patent and Other Information:
- Aceliner Stapler Instruction Sheet
- Patent 2059020 Stapling Device (filed 01/15/32, granted 10/27/36)
- Patent 2066157 Stapling Machine (filed 01/28/33, granted 12/29/36)
- Patent 2107169 Stapling Machine Core (filed 08/27/34, granted 02/01/38)
- Patent 2271926 Riser for Stapling Machines (filed 07/01/40, granted 02/03/42)
- Patent 2832959 Stapling Device (filed 08/25/55, granted 05/06/58)
- Design Patent 127378 Stapling Machine (filed 03/26/41, granted 05/20/41)
- The correct spelling for the no 502 is “Aceliner” not “Ace Liner”. This two-word version probably came about due to the inscription on the bottom of the staplers. ACE was placed above LINER but that was simply due to space limitations.
- Even back in the earlier 20th century there were different types of plastic. It’s something of a pet peeve of mine when someone says that old plastic is “bakelite” simply because its old. It seldom is. You especially see this on online auction sites. It has pretty much the same standing meaning-wise as words such as “rare”, “antique”, “vintage”, and “art deco”. All these terms along with “bakelite” are essentially meaningless on auction sites.
- This chart was compiled using advertisements from periodicals, newspapers, office supply catalog listings, government records, and from official Ace Fastener Corp. marketing materials.
- Ace Fastener Corp., (1941, June), advertisement. Geyer’s Topics, page 41
- Utility Supply Co Catalog (1945), Chicago, IL, page 383
- Paulin’s Inc., (1958, March 28), advertisement. The Latrobe Bulletin, page 9
- Ace Fastener Corp. (1962), Ace Staple Selector [brochure], Chicago, IL, Ace Fastener Corp.
- Ace Fastener Corp. (1963), Ace World’s Finest Stapling Machines and Staples… [brochure], Chicago, IL, Ace Fastener Corp.
- Turner Office Equipment, (1968, February 29), advertisement. The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, page 17
- Shirley Office Supply Catalog (1975), Pennsauken, NJ, page 199
- Emmons, (1975, July 16), advertisement. Stevens Point Daily Journal, page 18
- Halsey & Griffith, (1981, January 27), advertisement. The Palm Beach Post, page A5
- Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service, (1982, October 12), Appendix A Price List ACE. The Federal Register, page 1067 (45994)
- Beaver Office Products, (1992, December 3), advertisement. The Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum, page 8
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