The first patent for a bent wire paper clip was awarded in 1867. It was intended primarily for attaching tickets to fabric. Samuel B. Fay received U.S. patent 64,088 on April 23, 1867. Although functional and practical, Fay's design along with the 50 other designs patented prior to 1899 are not considered reminiscent of the modern paperclip design known today. The most common type of wire paper clip still in use, the Gem paper clip, was never patented, but it was most likely in production in Britain already in the early 1870s by "The Gem Manufacturing Company". Definite proof that the modern type of paper clip was well known in 1899 at the latest, is the patent granted to William Middlebrook of Waterbury, Connecticut on April 27 of that year for a "Machine for making wire paper clips." Since then countless variations on the same theme have been patented. Some have pointed instead of rounded ends, some have the end of one loop bent slightly to make it easier to insert sheets of paper, and some have wires with undulations or barbs to get a better grip. In addition, purely aesthetic variants have been patented, clips with triangular or round shapes. It has been claimed, though apparently without evidence, that Herbert Spencer, the originator of the term “survival of the fittest’, invented the paper clip. Spencer claimed in his autobiography to have invented a "binding-pin" that was distributed by Ackermann & Company. This pin looked more like a modern cotter pin than a modern paper clip, but it was designed to hold sheets of paper together. It is approximately 15 cm unfolded.
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