One of my (many) weaknesses is extraordinary ordinary things, be they novel or antique. This binder clip has the dubious distinction of being my favorite individual binder clip. I’m sure that those who are more academically obsessed than I would know and share details of the invention of these, or their use or production or waxing or waning popularity–Wikipedia’s entry on them offers little beyond some other monikers (banker’s, bulldog, foldover, bovine (??)) and an decent basic description I’d feel comfortable but not excited to share with incoming alien overlords.
I have binder clips all around my home. I’ve got a bunch of ~1/2-3/4″ ones in a large salt cellar in the kitchen where I use them daily for closing food bags (local frozen vegetables for the win in Minnesota winters!). I use them in the bathroom as I roll down tubes of toothpaste. I have one clipped on a spare bus pass and use the loop to keep it hanging by my door. I’ve used them to create mini-presses, hangers, or hold things together for repair. A handful of large ones held up a wool blanket over a drafty window during last year’s particularly cold winter. I’ve used them to try out hem lengths on curtains and hang rotating art pieces. Chances are a careful examination of my home and its contents would reveal ACCO and other brand binder clips keeping my life together in ways I’ve forgotten.
But this one is special. Firstly, it’s got a lovely sheen, just off black, iridescent with blue/green undertones (and difficult to capture in photos). Understated, well-made, and classy, the manifestation of a Platonic ideal of a binder clip. Secondly, it’s got its standardized size on it (No. 100) along with a translation for the plebes who might encounter it (large) in a lovely sans serif font. Thirdly, the brand is IDL and it declares itself “Made in England.” I have no brand or regional loyalties in my binder clips, but I do have biases towards novelty and objects that are also reminders of changing geographies. ACCO’s Made in China/Taiwan binder clips dominate the modern plain-black-binder-clip market (according to my anecdata) and coming across “Made in England” on a mundane manufactured office product certainly makes me do a double-take and reflect on globalization, supply lines, and a fascinatingly complex world. So for its (current) novelty and subtle beauty, this particular clip has been retired from nameless clipping duty and waits on reserve for those special tasks that require a 2″ clip with a 1″ capacity and a desire to impress and astound. Until then, it’s clipped to the edge of my desk for easy admiration.