Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Safety Pin Day

By Nurse Diane

Several years ago my husband and I were down on the coast visiting my grandmother.  While we were there, my grandfather's sister passed away.  I do not remember much of her, she was not around when we made our visits when I was growing up.  Since we were in town, I felt like we should stop by the funeral home and pay our respects.  We were leaving for home, and the funeral was not going to be till the following day.  The funeral home allowed me to go ahead and sign the condolence book, so I left my name and email address on the book.  A few weeks later I got an email from a strange address, and normally I don’t open them, but the subject mentioned my great aunt.  It was from her daughter, which would make her my second cousin?  I had never met her, or even heard about her, so we began an email correspondence.  She lived in Maine.  One day she sent me a picture of her children, and imagines my surprise when I saw her son's picture.  His face was covered with tattoos, his hair was dyed an unusual shade of orange, and there was a huge safety pin stuck through his face.

While I can't be positive, I'm pretty sure that when Walter Hunt invented the safety pin in 1849, sticking it through your face, or any other body part was not part of his original plan.  Walter Hunt, a mechanic, owed a friend $15.00.  He was thinking of a way to pay him back, and so he decided to invent something.  Prior to the safety pin, buttons were used to fasten things together, so the pin was a great success, and a patent was given on April 10, 1849.  Walter sold his patent for about $400.00, paid his friend back, and kept the other $385.00   Little did he know his little invention would make millions of dollars for the W. R. Grace and Company.

One of the more popular uses for the safety pin was for baby diapers.  They would hold the diaper in place without sticking the baby.  I tried to find what was used to keep diapers in place before the safety pin, however, I couldn't find that answer.  I am assuming they were just folded and tucked into place, or maybe tied?  With the invention of disposable diapers in the late 1940's made the use of the safety pin nearly obsolete.

These days, in addition to poking them through your skin, they are used in making crafts and jewelry, you can still use them if a button accidently pops off or a zipper breaks.  Today is National Safety Pin Day, so think about Walter Hunt, and his ingenious idea invented to pay back a friend.

(All images from Google) 

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