Thursday, November 12, 2009

See That Clip?

By E. Jackson-Forsberg, Desk Supplies Desk

In the pre-digital age of Darwin D. Martin (1865-1935), the everyday was awash in paper - newspapers (remember those?), letters and documents of all kinds. With all this "treeware" piling up, the paper clip was an essential tool to keep it organized. To this end, Darwin Martin seemed to be on a quest to find the perfect paper clip - or perhaps the perfect tool kit of clips for various jobs, large and small. His papers, reassembled at the University at Buffalo Archives, feature a collection of clip samples (no less than forty) and related advertisements and correspondence: an impromptu exhibit ready for the OCD Museum.

Martin's paper clip collection presents an interesting survey of a number of clip styles that are extinct or rarely seen today: the Staples version of Darwin's theory of natural selection. Some, including the "Eureka" clip, "invented for Bankers, Lawyers, Students and Business Men," were elegant brass constructions with a decidedly Victorian bent (no pun intended). Others show the evolution of the object as the mundane exemplar of "form follows function," resembling the common, lozenge-shaped "Gem" clip of today. Martin's collection is affixed to index cards and other paper ephemera, providing an accidental illustration of which would rust over time, and which would not stain one's documents.

Perhaps Martin thought that finding the ultimate source for quality (and cost effective) paper fasteners would revolutionize the Larkin Company's filing just as his application of the index card filing system had revolutionized their client records. In such a light, this quirky collection is not so trivial. Antiquated? Yes. Dry? Sure. But not trivial.

Now, if you happen to print out this post, please affix it to your other Wright-related documents using a fine Clipiola Italian paper clip, the official paperclip of the Weekly Wright-up.

Click HERE for a fascinating online (paperless) survey of historic paper clips from the Early Office Museum!

1 comment:

Stonecat said...

Speaking of Martin > Larkin > Elbert Hubbard; OK bad segue maybe (haha), but I see the PBS Elbert Hubbard documentary is premiering this Monday night on WNED Buffalo/Toronto. There's bound to be some mention of Wright in it somewhere, but if not who cares, should still be a treat. Check out the trailer: