The Strange History of Clothespins

From one patented shape to the next, they had a good run.

This story appears in the March 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Between 1852 and 1887 the U.S. patent office issued over 100 patents for clothespins. These tools for attaching laundry to a line began losing their value after 1938—when the first electric dryer went on sale.