Binder clip

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Binder clip.

A binder clip, less commonly known as a paper clamp or foldover clip or bobby clip or clasp, is a simple device for binding sheets of paper together. It leaves the paper intact and can be removed quickly and easily, unlike the staple. The term foldback clip is used in the United Kingdom to describe this invention (not to be confused with a Bulldog clip, an older device with the same function, which is stronger and has rigid rather than folding handles). It is also sometimes referred to as a "handbag clip" because, when not in use, its clip can be folded up to look like a handbag. This feature is used to hold the papers in place even better.

Characteristics and methods of use[edit]

The handles can be folded down once the clip has been attached, and can also be removed for a semi-permanent binding.
An assortment of binder clips, with an AA battery for scale

A binder clip is a strip of spring steel bent into the shape of an isosceles triangle with loops at the apex. Tension along the base of the triangle forces the two sides closed, and the loops prevent the sharp steel edges from cutting into the paper. The loops also serve to hold two pieces of stiff wire, which are used as handles and allow the clip to be opened. The two slots cut in each loop are shaped so that the wire handles can be folded down once the clip has been attached, and the spring force of the wire holds them down on the surface of the paper. This holds the clip relatively flat, for easier stacking of paper. One handle can also be folded down while the other remains up to allow the stack of papers to be hung up. The handles can also be removed altogether by squeezing them sideways and pulling them out, allowing for more permanent binding. As compared to a paper clip, the binder clip is able to bind sheets of paper more securely, and is also resistant to rust.

There are several sizes of binder clips, ranging from a base size of 5 millimetres (0.2 in) to 50 mm (1.97 in). The sheet steel portion is customarily black oxide coated, but a variety of decorative painted color schemes are also available. The sheet steel portion is occasionally made of stainless steel, the more typical spring steel can also be finished in nickel, silver or gold. The handles are normally nickel-plated.


The binder clip is in common use in the modern office. It can hold a few to many sheets of paper, and is usually used in place of the paper clip for large volumes of paper. Various practical (and sometimes whimsical) alternative uses have been proposed. These include holding pieces of quilt together, creating a "beer pyramid" in a refrigerator with wire shelves, serving as a bookmark, a cheap alternative to a money clip or preventing computer cables from slipping behind desks.[1] Smaller sized clips have been commonly used as "quick fix" fitting and sizing solutions in the fashion industry.

In 1966, test pilot Joseph F. Cotton used the shiny metal portion of such a clip to short-circuit an electrical circuit panel to force the landing gear of the XB-70 bomber on a flight.[citation needed]

The object is such a common sight in offices that, in late 2020, when restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic were lowered and people started returning to their offices, some missed and enjoyed the feeling of using a binder clip, after months without doing so.[2] At around the same time, healthcare workers in at least one medical center used extra large binder clips as a cheap way to secure a plastic curtain between workers and patients infected with the airborne virus.[3]


The binder clip was invented in 1910 by Washington, D.C. resident Louis E. Baltzley, who ultimately was granted U.S. Patent 1,139,627 for his invention.[4] At that time, the method of binding sheets of paper together was to punch holes in them and sew them together, making it tedious to remove a single sheet of paper.

Louis Baltzley invented the binder clip to help his father, Edwin Baltzley, a writer and inventor, hold his manuscripts together easily. While the original design has since been changed five times, the basic mechanism has remained the same.[4]

Baltzey initially produced his invention through the L.E.B. Manufacturing Company.[4] These earliest binder clips are stamped "L.E.B." on one side of the sheet steel. Manufacturing rights were later licensed to other companies.



  1. ^ Purdy, Kevin. "Binder Clips as Cable Catchers Redux". Lifehacker. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  2. ^ Chen, Te-Ping (7 December 2020). "Some Office Workers Return and Find Joy in Their Cubicles: 'Ooh, a Binder Clip!'". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 29 January 2022.
  3. ^ Hill, Eric; Crockett, Christopher; Circh, Ryan W.; Lansville, Frank; Stahel, Philip F. (13 May 2020). "Introducing the "Corona Curtain": an innovative technique to prevent airborne COVID-19 exposure during emergent intubations". Patient Safety in Surgery. 14 (1): 22. doi:10.1186/s13037-020-00247-5. ISSN 1754-9493. PMC 7220616. PMID 32431756.
  4. ^ a b c Hales, Linda (20 May 2006). "A Big Clip Job? Think Washington". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 January 2016.