I'm the Co-founder and CEO of The Grommet. We launch undiscovered consumer products. It's also the birthplace of Citizen Commerce. I write about design, cultural anthropology, and start-ups, mostly.

How long has this newfangled safety pin been around?

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Just curious.  Since when has this newfangled safety pin been in existence?  I first noticed one in early December, on a sweater made in Italy.  I chalked it up as a new European gizmo.  But then last week I saw one pinned onto a piece of American apparel at the mall.

They’re really elegant for holding clothing tags.  The lack of a “loop-dee-loo” at the bottom keeps the string free and clear. And I like the form.  It’s the Absolut bottle of fasteners.

Beyond that, we can all appreciate any device that prevents the use of that annoying plastic tag holder.   The type the store staff shoots into the fabric seam with a gun.  You get home and cut it off (lately they are made thinner and breakable, I’ve noticed, which is an improvement over searching for scissors.)   Invariably, one end goes flying and stays forever resident in your bathroom tile grout.  The other end burrows into a garment  seam and repeatedly irritates your skin.

To give a sense of scale...that is a normal mechanical pencil next to it.

To give a sense of scale...that is a normal mechanical pencil next to it.

But…back to this new safety pin design.  I usually notice new little objects of good utility.  Especially humble ones.  Really wonder if “everyone” else already knows these safety pins, and how long they’ve been around.

14 Responses to “How long has this newfangled safety pin been around?”

  1. Joanne

    Hmmm…..looks like I am the only one willing to ponder this question with you. This looks vaguely familiar. I think that I purchased something similar to this….a curtain ring…or was it a shower ring? That’s the problem with me ….I never remember those finer details, it’s a good thing I spend alot of time with you. But I do like the form, function and obvious utility of this.

    Reply
  2. Beth

    Yeah, it looks just like a shower curtain ring to me too. Interesting to know it’s much smaller though. I like it.

    Reply
  3. julespieri

    Beth–funny that both you and Joanne caught that shower curtain ring similarity. Since I knew how small it was, I never made that association. Anyway, I put up a photo to show the scale.

    Reply
  4. Debbie

    Hi! Reading your blog and enjoying it! Um, this looks just like a stitch holder you use for knitting (if you knit – I do and use ones similar). It very well might be since you first noticed it on a sweater…..

    Deb Fries
    Pod Design

    Reply
  5. julespieri

    Deb–Oooo so cool you might have i.d.’d this contraption’s origins. I guess you are the winner of this mythical competition.

    Reply
  6. Victor K

    Hi Jules,
    Been reading your blog…interesting.

    This may shock you guys but my parents used these gizmos 40+ years ago in South America to keep holed invoices together or loose parts like o-rings, washers, GROMMETS, etc. Serious.

    Take care.

    Reply
    • julespieri

      Hi Victor…I have to admit it just did not look American to me the first time I saw it. So we know at least that much now. A GROMMET holder in South America. Even better!

      Thanks for chiming in Victor.

      Reply
      • Victor K

        Hi again Jules,

        We used to have a big Italian/Portuguese community there so European is a good possibility…or, it could have been Japanese since my parents used to import from there and these contraptions were used to hold small objects that would be a pain to keep organized/separated in a box.

        I see you also keep ‘banker’s hours’…HA!

        Fantastic work you and your team does…congrats!!!

  7. julespieri

    Victor,
    That sounds like a really rich childhood environment. Mine, in terms of products, was pretty much whatever Kmart and Sears decided to sell. Blue collar and Detroit. But I learned to make a lot of things in that environment–great home ec and wood shop classes, and lots of people in my neighborhood who knew how to make things.

    I long for banker’s hours… After this 24-7 labor of love I am going to be a letter carrier.

    Reply
  8. Victor K

    Hi Jules,
    My parents escaped Russian communism during the war and ended up in Venezuela. Dad was a great mechanic and that allowed them to open an auto parts retail store. In those days (late 50’s) they did not even have parts catalogs so mechanics showed up at the counter with a car part (sometimes in pieces) and the sales staff would match it by length, thickness, width, circumference, looks plus some lucky guessing. We had one caliper and it was my friend.

    My toys was an inexhaustible supply of used auto parts (carburetors, universal joints, gaskets, etc.) which I dissected until I found out how/why they work/exist. One that stomped me for a long time was how to get all the balls back into a ball bearing. In the early 60’s we moved to Toronto due to safety/unrest in Venezuela and there I was introduced to wood/metal shop where I immediately excelled. I found my ‘home’.

    I can easily picture you in wood shop teaching some boys how to do it right. In my last year of grade school in Toronto, Mom did not allow me (since we were going back to Venezuela at the end of that school year) to spend the money to buy the wood for a canoe my teacher had already approved for me to build in his shop…that would have been cool!!! Thanks for prompting some good childhood memories.

    BTW, in a few weeks, my son’s school has the Great American Teach-In Day. I will be presenting to my son’s fourth grade class all the great Grommets that are kid-related (the Aquapod, the Yucycle, the Vurtego, etc.) and will again challenge them, as the best toy experts, to invent one of their own. I will obviously tell them that the Pumponator was invented by a girl of their age.

    At last year’s Teach-In I teased them that they, as toy experts having spent hundreds of hours playing with their Legos…that they let an adult (my friend Jon Capriola) beat them to invent the Laser Pegs. With them, we discussed the thought process that must have gone through Jon’s mind while inventing the product…they really enjoyed that! Toy manufacturers should be involving grade schools (private or Montessori-types since public schools are too political) and include them all in some kind of profit sharing if the toy becomes a success.

    [I hope you do not mind me copying and pasting the product story, info and pictures into a handout I will give each kid for them to remember the story behind the product and how they can have their own story behind something they invent. I will be giving proper credit to DG and maybe drive some traffic/sales from the parents.]

    Your K-Mart and Sears has now been replaced by Wal-Mart (plus thousands others) who force-feed us what they “think” we want to buy. It is THIS mightier-than-thou attitude that will propel Daily Grommet to astronomical success with you business model. I am sure most of us can visually walk the whole toy department of any of these mega stores in our mind and can predict the next toy category/action figure. Nothing really changes. It is this market void brought on by their arrogance that will ‘fuel’ DG.

    PS You would never make it as a mail carrier since your creative mind will be working 24/7 and you will be delivering my neighbor’s mail to my door…HA!

    Reply
  9. julespieri

    Victor

    Your life should be a blog! What a wonderful (and I am sure hardworking and at times very frightening) entrepreneurial journey your life has been, starting at childhood. Did you submit Laser Pegs to us? So cool you are friends with Jon.

    I am rushing to an event or I would go do the research to see how Laser Pegs came our way.

    And by all means, please use the Grommets and their creators as the basis for your talk. Thanks for sharing what we do, too. You are doing a wonderful thing by going to the Teach-in. Don’t forget the recent Grommet, the Perplexus. My 19 year old (that I am visiting at college this weekend) says it is the best thing we have done. He has it on his desk and he is working his way through the 100 steps. Things that take this kind of patience (like puzzles) are not usually his thing so I know this toy is virtually for everyone….

    Reply
  10. Victor K

    Jules,
    Jon was the one who sent me your link when his product was featured. He’s got an incredible product.

    Enjoy your son and weekend.

    Talk later.

    Reply

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