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Updated by Denise Hunt on Jul 03, 2017
Headline for Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Office Stationery
Denise Hunt Denise Hunt
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Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Office Stationery

Many of us work in an office environment and are surrounded by basic office stationery such as pens, pencils and erasers on a daily basis. Understandably, we don’t give much thought to these items, at least until the stationery storage cupboard starts to look a little empty. However, these facts about seemingly mundane office stationery will get you thinking.


Ballpoint pens first became popular during World War II

The ballpoint pen as we know it was first patented in 1938 by László József Bíró, who created a pen that used faster drying ink than he was used to with fountain pens. He got the idea from noticing that the inks used in newspaper printing presses dry quickly, leaving the paper free of smudges. However, the popularity of Biro ballpoint pens really took off in 1943 when it was adopted by the RAF due to their resistance to leakage at high altitude.


The pencil is the oldest writing instrument

The origins of the pencil as we know it date back to the 16th century. Graphite deposits thought to have originated them were discovered in the north of England. Today, huge numbers of traditional pencils are still used on a daily basis in offices throughout the world.


The post-it note was an accident

Offices throughout the world keep a stock of highly useful post-it notes and many people swear by them for remembering appointments or jotting down numbers or messages.

The invention of the post-it note actually came by accident. In 1968, Spencer Silver, who was an employee of 3M, was trying to create a very strong adhesive. However, his efforts failed as all he could invent was a very weak adhesive that could be removed without leaving any residue behind. It’s this accidental creation that was then used to create post-it notes.

The colour of post-it notes was also an accident. The first post-it notes were yellow simply because there was yellow paper in the lab for the first post-it experiment.


The world’s first stapler was created for King Louis XIV

As far as history can tell us, the first stapler was created for Louis XIV of France in the 18th century and each staple was inscribed with the insignia of the royal court – a long way off the cheap and cheerful staplers and staples that we are used to.


Yellow is the most important highlighter colour

Fluorescent highlighter pen ink is available in a few colours (yellow, pink, orange, red, green, purple and blue), but yellow and pink pens account for about 85% of all highlighter sales. Yellow could be argued to be the most important highlighter colour as it’s on the middle spectrum of visible light and is best suited for people who are colour blind.


Your average office worker handles roughly 10,000 sheets of paper a year

It’s been estimated that the average tree is capable of producing 80,000 sheets of paper. This is enough paper to sustain around eight office workers a year, so the average office worker handles roughly 10,000.


Bread used to be used as an eraser

Stale breadcrumbs or crusts used to be used for erasing mistakes made in pencil. It’s believed that the inventor of the rubber eraser accidentally picked up a piece of rubber instead of the bread and then found that it could easily rub away pencil markings.


Paper clips helped to fight the Nazis in World War II

Paper clips helped to fight the Nazis in World War II

In the second world war, Norway was invaded by the Nazis and was controlled by Germany between June 1940 until May 1945. During this time, Norwegian resistance fighters attached a paper clip to their lapels as a subtle sign that they were fighting against Hitler’s troops.

If you are in need of an online office stationery supplier, you can visit or call 0800 298 57 42. Discount Office UK have over 17 years of experience in providing a single source solution for all the office products a business needs to run smoothly.

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