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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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