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Greenfield Automatic Fastener Wire wm sm

In 1894 The Greenfield Automatic Fastener Company released the Greenfield Automatic Fastener.  While seemingly a new and revolutionary idea, this could probably be best attributed as being evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  In the mid to late 19th century most stapling machines worked by only loading and using one pre-formed staple at a time.  What Greenfield has done is take technology used by the publishing industry and converted it to a small, usable form.  

Wire stitching was used by book binders, et al, and consisted of large, complicated machines, usually foot-driven.  Greenfield shrunk the mechanics and designed a desk sized machine that would fasten small stacks of paper with what is a modern staple.

Made of iron, steel, zinc, and with a wooden spool the Greenfield Fastener was both ingenious and simple, but most of all it was well-built and could stand up to the rigors of everyday use.  The one I have in my collection works fine after 128 years!  With the spool the fastener weighs 2 pounds and measures 5 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 5 inches high.

Staple Size Samples

A full spool for the Greenfield Fastener could make 1,200 staples using 25 gauge steel wire and would have been an incredible bargain.  The staples it made were very close in size to a modern standard staple with a crown size of  0.42 inches compared to the 0.50 inches of a modern staple.  The one odd thing with this was that it made staples in a vertical position as opposed to the horizontal as most do and have historically done.

1894 Hartford Courant Ad wm sm
1894 newspaper ad

Edwin Greenfield applied for, and was granted, a patent for this device in 1894.  It was being marketed while the patent was being granted and was discussed in many various industry publications.  It was also well-advertised in this year.  However, 1894 is the only year that this was manufactured and distributed as in 1895 Jones Manufacturing Company became the successor to the Greenfield Automatic Fastener Company.  In 1895 Jones Manufacturing would release the Greenfield Automatic Pin-Fastener based on this same technology.

Edwin Greenfield wm
Edwin T. Greenfield

As this fastener didn’t use pre-formed staples, but instead formed them from strands of steel wire, the mechanics were a bit more involved than with your usual stapler.  If you look at figure 1, you can immediately see the difference. 

Greenfield Automatic Fastener Wire Up wm sm
figure 1

Figure 2 below shows the stapling mechanism up close.  The way it works is that when you depress the plunger handle several things happen simultaneously:

  1. The plungers (in red) move downward cutting the wire on both ends
  2. The plunger push the wire over the staple forming mandrel making a staple
  3. While the plunger is moving downward the mandrel is being moved into the enclosure so that the staple can then be pushed through the paper and onto the anvil
  4. the staple ends strike the anvil and are clinched inward – and your papers are stapled!
Greenfield Automatic Fastener Wire Up Closeup wm sm
figure 2:  stapling mechanism shown artificially colored for clarity

The wire is fed via a ratcheting system where you lift the body about 95 degrees.  This feeds another strip of wire.  There is a groove on the bottom of each piece of the plunger and on top of the mandrel to keep the wire straight.

Pages from Hardware Dealers Magazine 1894 October wm sm
1894 magazine article

It’s unfortunate that this fastener only had one year of availability as it could potentially have become the primary way to fasten documents as opposed to strip or magazine staplers.  It was well-built, could make upwards of 1,200 staples without reloading, used inexpensive wire spools, and was relatively easy to load.  If you’ve ever tried to load the wire on Bates Models A through D staplers you know how important that is.

Patent and Other Information:

  • Patent 520734 Book-Stapling Machine (filed 01/02/1894, granted 05/29/1894)

Notes:

  1. Editors, (1894, May), The Greenfield Automatic Fastener, The Electrical Age, Page 226
  2. Editors, (1894, June), Automatic Fastener, The American Stationer, Page 1222
  3. Plimpton Manufacturing Co, (1894, June 11), advertisement, The Hartford Daily Courant, page 10
  4. Editors, (1894, June), The Greenfield Automatic Fastener, The Iron Age, Page 1257
  5. Editors, (1894, June), The Greenfield Automatic Fastener, The Manufacturer and Builder, Page 138
  6. Editors, (1894, July), A New Automatic Fastener, The Inland Printer, Page 372
  7. Scrantom, Westmore & Co, (1894, October 23), advertisement, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, page 9
  8. Editors, (1894, October), Automatic Fastener or Binder, The Hardware Dealer, Page 229

 

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  1. STAPLERS, STAPLING MACHINES, & PAPER FASTENERS VOL 1 – E.H. HOTCHKISS COMPANY OFFICE AND INDUSTRIAL STAPLING MACHINES
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