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Office Stationery: A History – How the Pritt Stick Came To Be

It is something that takes up so much of teaching and work environments, whether you’re in a primary school, accountants office or doctor’s waiting room, there are writing implements, filing tools and papers all around.

The term, ‘Stationery’, originally referred to all products that was sold by a ‘stationer’. A stationer referred to a person whose book shop was fixed to a permanent spot, typically near a university.

Of course, stationery has long been around and the personalised use of writing materials has always been recognised as good social etiquette, particularly since the Victorian era.

The stationery industry is continually at risk thanks to the increasing popularity of electronic media, as it still remains connected to the more traditional form of paper and written communications. 

Interestingly, there are lots of common day stationery objects that were invented long before you might first think, so here is our round-up of quirky facts about stationery that is now so commonplace.

5 Facts about the Pritt Stick and Other Pieces of Stationery

1. Made a mistake? Use breadcrumbs! Before the invention of the rubber, people used breadcrumbs or the crust of bread to erase pencil marks. By mistake, the inventor of the eraser picked up a rubber instead of the breadcrumbs and subsequently found this method worked a lot easier. [Source: Office Express]

2. Scissors are over 3500 years old! The first pair was invented in 1500BC in Ancient Egypt. Unlike modern versions of the cutting device, early forms of scissors were made from one piece of metal. Modern cross-bladed versions were invented much later in Ancient Rome (around 100AD). They didn’t become commonly used until the 1500s, in Europe. Originally, they would have been used by clothes makers and barbers. [Source: Enchanted Learning]

3. Oops, post-it notes were an accident! In the late 1960s, employees at 3M were trying to develop a super strong glue. They ended up with a really low tack adhesive that was ideal for using in memo notes and page markers as it leaves no residue. [Source: Ryman]

4. Lipstick? No, Pritt Stick! The infamous stick of glue was created by German company, Henkel in 1967, after the research team studied the “twist-up ease” and convenience of lipstick applicators. Since then, Pritt has become a globally recognised brand of adhesives, tapes, correction and fixing products.

5. Blu Tack is blue because of safety fears! When a lab researcher, Alan Holloway, was working for sealant manufacturer, Ralli Bondite, he inadvertently produced a produced a product that was useless as a sealant, but pliable and semi-elastic. It was demonstrated as a novelty to visiting executives from another sealant and adhesive manufacturer, as a means of wall mounting notices. The original formula for producing this product wasn’t secretive, but has since been developed by Bostik and officially named ‘Blu-Tack’. Interestingly, the product was originally white but when consumer research raised concerns that children might think it was confectionary, they coloured it blue. 

What is your favourite piece of office stationery?

If you have any fun facts about the crazy world of stationery or inventions, please share them with us at @TradePrintUK!