‘The Perfection of the Paper Clip’7/1/2015
Stationery and history — this is sure to be a big hit for stationery aficionados. Those
various items you find on your desk every day, how did they come to be? And why did they come to be? Although the book starts out as advertised — the history of the paper clip — there are many more stories to be read on all the various items we use every day.
Author James Ward is an Englishman, so there are items in the book that have unfamiliar names and overall uses. The “pencil box,” so ubiquitous to the English school child, is more familiar to the American student as a Trapper, although the analogy is not exact. The first mathematical school set for English children carried a protractor, compass, set square, ruler, pencil and eraser.
Ward discusses paper, pen (from quill to gel pens of today), erasers, glue and all of the other items found on your desk. He delves into the history of each item, many of which were not surprisingly developed in European countries.
Especially interesting was the story of pens and ink. Their development had to parallel each other to meet the requirements of the new technology being developed. Treated separately, the history of the modern day highlighter included the development of fluorescent/phosphorescent inks. During World War II, phosphorescent paint was significant in the Pacific theater, where fighters needed to land on small decks in the dark.
All of these normal items have interesting histories behind them. Ward has done well at developing their stories in a very readable volume. CV
Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.