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Babe Stapler comparison wm

The early history of the modern office supply era, and especially paper fastening machines, was founded by such people as George McGill, Eli Hotchkiss, and Morris Abrams.  These, and others like them, have laid the foundations for much of the office equipment in use even today.  While many of these businessmen may no longer be remembered they were giants in their day.  However, even amongst these giants there is one man who stands out.

Jack Linsky was a World War I veteran who had previously served in Europe.  Prior to his stint in the military he worked his way up in the stationery field.  After his discharge he decided to go back to Germany to find a firm that produced a superior stapler that he could then distribute in the U.S.  He eventually contracted with Skrebba Werks to produce what would be known in the U.S. as the “Babe”.

1928 St Louis Globe Democrat Ad wm sm

1928 newspaper ad

In 1925, and only 28 years old, Linsky founded Parrot Speed Fastener and in 1928 introduced the Babe to the U.S. and Canada.  The Babe had some clear advantages to other staplers available at the time but it didn’t take long for competitors to start copying it.  He tried to get Skrebba to improve on the Babe but couldn’t convince them to do so.  Not being one to give up so easily he decided to do it himself and in 1934 Parrot Speed Fastener released an updated version of the stapler.  After only a few years you no longer see the Babe being sold, but that wasn’t the end of the line.  In 1937 Speed Fastener released the revolutionary Swingline models 3, 4, and the Tot.  And thus began Swingline’s future dominance of the stapler industry.

1933 Sioux City Journal Ad wm sm

1933 newspaper ad

The Babe stapler had two distinct versions:

Babe Stapler v1 wm sm

Version 1

  • weighs 10.7 ounces empty
  • measures 4.06″ inches long by 4.25″ inches high by 2.4″ inches wide
  • capable of permanent and pin stapling
  • made of steel and zinc alloy with chrome plate
  • available 1928-1933
  • manufactured by Skrebba Werks in Germany

Babe Stapler v2 wm sm

Version 2

  • weighs 11 ounces empty
  • measures 4.375 inches long by 3.625 inches high by 1.75 inches wide
  • capable of permanent clinch only
  • made of steel and zinc alloy with chrome plate
  • available 1934-1936
  • manufactured by Parrot Speed Fastener in the U.S.
1935 Akron Beacon Journal Ad wm sm

1935 newspaper ad

The Babe uses a proprietary size staple that is slightly smaller than standard.  The crown size for a standard staple is 0.50 inches while Babe staples have a crown of 0.46 inches.  The staples came in rows of 100 and were rated to fasten up to 40 pieces of paper at a time, although that seems a bit optimistic considering the size of the staple and stapler.

babe staples wm sm

staples

Made entirely of steel and zinc this stapler is well-made and very tough.  If you find one in the wild it is almost guaranteed to work – if you can find staples.  Fixing a jam in the first version is usually as simple as unscrewing the front plate while conversely it is extremely difficult to clear a jam in the second version as there is no way to access the stapling mechanism.

The Babe stapler isn’t particularly well-known but is nevertheless important as it marks the birth of the company eventually called Swingline.  It is an uncommon fastener to find in either version but with some diligent searching and patience you’ll be able to get one.

babe stapler box v2 wm sm

Patent and Other Information:

  • Patent 2096573 Stapling Machine (filed 01/27/1934, granted 10/19/1937)

Notes:

  1. Buxton & Skinner, (1928, October 2), advertisement. St Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, page 6
  2. Perkins Bros Co, (1930, January 10), advertisement. Sioux City Journal, page 12
  3. Buxton & Skinner, (1932, July 20), advertisement. St Louis Post-Dispatch, page 8A
  4. Perkins Bros Co, (1933, April 2), advertisement, Sioux City Journal, page 4-A
  5. The M. O’Neil Co, (1935, January 9), advertisement, Akron Beacon Journal, page 12
  6. McClurg’s Catalog, (1936), Chicago, IL, page 180
  7. Arelo Sederburg, (1965, September 18), Swingline Boss Fastens Onto Money Formula, Los Angeles Times, page 8
  8. Editors, (1966, February 27), Stapler’s Success May Spell Doom of Paste Pots, Bridgeport Post, page C-6
  9. Joe Baker, (1966, March 10), Ingenuity Made Stapler Business, Daily Sun, page D-8

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