Thursday, November 4, 2010


The Zipper

Each day most people use some sort of clothing fastener as they go about their daily lives. Weather it is buttons, snaps, valcro or zippers. The country of Japan makes 90% of the world's zippers. The zipper required the ingenuity of several inventors.

Elias Howe, who invented the sewing machine, received a patent in 1851 for an "Automatic Continuous Clothing Closure". Perhaps because of the success of his sewing machine, he did not try seriously to market it and missed out on the recognition he might have received.

Forty-four years later, Whitcomb Judson, who invented the pneumatic street railway marketed a "Clasp Locker", a more complicated-hook-and eye shoe fastener. Colonel Lewis Walker, Whitcomb launched the Universal Fastener Company to market the new devise but short lived because it had little commercial success.

In 1849, Walter Hunt patented the device which is now known as the safety pin, he called it the "miracle fastener", since they were machine made they were inexpensive. The invention of snap fasteners have been attributed to German inventors Louis Hannart in 1863 and Herbert Bauer in 1885.

The design used today was invented in 1913 by a Swedish born scientist Gideon Sunback, it was the "Hook-less Fastener." and after more improvements patented in 1917.

Prehistoric culture fashioned straight pins of thorns to hold animal hides together. Egyptians used brooches, metal straight pins, buckles or clothes ties to secure their clothes. Romans used straight pins and clasps similar in design to modern safety pin to fasten their intricately draped clothing at the shoulder. Japanese kimonos were wrapped over the body and held in place with a sash known as an obi tied at the waist.

Buttons were originally used more as an ornament than as a fastening, the earliest known found in the Indus Valley, circa 2800-2600 BC. The Indus Valley is a Bronze Age civilization in the western part of India. Functional buttons were buttonholes for fastening clothes, appeared, first, in Germany in the 13th century, they soon became wide spread, as they became so popular in fastening clothes.

Just wanted my friends to know that the most simple clothing fastener has an interesting history. What would we do without the zipper, it is on so many articles we use every day. What would we do without zip lock bags!


dr.antony said...

Interesting.Things which appear simple are often not so.The truth is,when we use such simple things,we never realise the value and importance of such inventions. I remember the time they used buttons on the flies and how difficult it was.Every time we unzip the flies,we dont realise the easines of it.

Becky and Gary said...

My goodness Margaret, how very interesting. You always post the most wonderful and informative articles.

Gigi Ann said...

Interesting post today, Margaret... My favorite fastener today is still the safety pin, I never leave home without them. Also Duct tape will do in a pinch, if it is a hem that is hanging. I don't sew so well, so I am always thinking of ways to fix my boo, boo, without sewing. Iron on patches come in handy sometimes also. If the zipper breaks, I always have my handy safety pins handy, until I get home. Did I say I enjoyed the post today? Well, I did... ; )

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Love that term for the safety pin....miracle fastener! I wonder how many children were delayed in learning how to tie a bow because of velcro? Just a thought....xo Lynn
Margaret, hope you have been well. Haven't seen you in a while.

kavita said...

Very informative and interesting .I keep safety pins with me always .I am guilty of using stapler too in emergency.
Now a days i ask my tailor to use zipper instead of buttons/hooks in my daughter's frock as it is more convenient .

Linda said...

Very interesting - I had no idea that the country of Japan makes most of the zippers. I think the U.S. needs to start making them - we could use the business. My Dad is on a mission to buy only American made clothing - it's still out there - he's been ordering it.

Fascinating facts as always, Margaret! :)

Janet said...

Hi Margaret you always have interest post!!!

Merle said...

Hi Margaret ~Very interesting history of the
zips and other fasteners used over the years
Thank you for your sympathy on the loss of our friend, and for my fire experience. I
am fine now, but got a big shock at the time. Glad you liked the Banned from Coles
joke and the test results jokes. Glad you got a smile from the post. Take care, my
friend. Love, Merle.

Judy said...

It is amazing how many small things in our lives we take for granted and use every day. I don't think the Amish use zippers. At least the ones around here don't. They put buttons on everything. I don't know how we would get along without them. Great post. I learned something.

I married said...

Yes, the zipper has been a handy little invention. We use it in so many things. But I don't use the zip lock bags. I buy the twist ties one ( you get more for your money) and sandwich bags that fold over.

I agree with you when you left a comment at my blog, two men would definitely be one too many. LOL Have a great week-end.

Anonymous said...

My mother had a metal, round, box with a lid so full of buttons she had saved that the button box was the answer to many pieces of clothes I wore with a button missing. Like my 1st grade school picture. My overall strap on one side had a button but the other side was pinned. Until she could sew on a button. Long underwear had a flap in back that was buttoned. A long time in unbuttoning the flap was often the precursor to disaster. Mom cut them off and made a slit that seemed to spread apart about the same time my rear end hit the outhouse hole.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Hello Margaret, for all your continued support there is an award for you on my Christmas Shopping blog.


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Margaret,

Normally we don't think of the zipper although we use it every day.Only when it fails to work when we want to go out urgently we feel irritated and angry.

You have done a great research of this thing which we use daily.The information is fascinating.

Amazing how Japanese take advantage of every invention and manufacture things in large quantities very cheaply and flood the market.Now Chinese are coming out very vigorously in manufacturing and marketing world wide many things which we use every day.

Wish you a wonderful Sunday,

Denise said...

This is so fascinating Margaret. Such a wonderful post!

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