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A spindle (or colloquially, a spike) is an upright spike used to hold papers waiting for processing. "Spindling" or "spiking" was the act of spearing a paper document onto the spike.
Spindling accumulated paperwork in a way that would not permit it to be blown about by the summer breeze common prior to the advent of air conditioning. When the spindle was full, a string would be put through the holes to bundle the papers together, and the bundle would be shipped to the archives.
Many spindles come with a plastic safety cap to prevent injury. Many early spindles have bases that are quite decorative. Another colloquialism arising from the use of this device was "spiking", which meant a de facto killing of a controversial newspaper article.
A prohibition against "spindling" a document comprised the middle of three barred practices in the famous post–World War II injunction printed on punched card documents to be processed by computer, "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate".
- Steven Lubar: "'Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate': A Cultural History of the Punch Card". Journal of American Culture (1991)
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