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#207 :: Anthropomorphic Stapler

September 4, 2004

Squatting on its cast-iron haunches, its steel tail coiled with ready staples, this artifact of turn-of-the-last-century industrial design awaits a punch on the head. It is about eight inches long, and five high. Though it looks like a prop from an Edward Gorey book, its origins are a complete mystery, lost in that fathomless bog of pre-digital cultural ephemera where even Google cannot tread. My parents received it as a gift decades ago from a dear family friend, the late novelist and Pulitzer-winning historian Paul Horgan, who found it in the house he moved into in Middletown, CT. Horgan always reckoned it was American in manufacture, but nothing else is known. It works – something I determined at about age 9, almost breaking my hand and earning a good scolding in the process. The chain of bent-metal staples used to be a good inch and a half longer.

Filed under: Artifact | Comments (7)

7 Comments

  1. Patrick Fitzgerald September 9, 2004 @ 2:55 am

    Very cool, but I thought “anthropomorphic” meant “humanlike”… this stapler looks more “animallike” to me.

  2. mack September 9, 2004 @ 3:02 am

    Hmm – I stand corrected. Although perhaps it’s a centaur with hands folded behind back …

  3. Morgan September 9, 2004 @ 3:04 am

    That would be “zoomorphic” stapler, not “anthropomorphic,” ‘anthro-‘ meaning ‘human’ and ‘zoo-‘ meaning animal.

  4. mack September 9, 2004 @ 3:07 am

    THAT’S the word. I just spent five minutes stumbling around dictionary.com and thesaurus.com looking for it. Thanks!

  5. milovoo September 9, 2004 @ 3:08 am

    I believe it would be biomorphic, and the only context I have ever heard that word is in describing art nouveau design, so it seems about right.

  6. Morgan September 9, 2004 @ 3:40 am

    Either way, it’s pretty and I want one.

  7. Eric Siry September 10, 2004 @ 12:41 pm

    How do the staples advance, I wonder?


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