What Is the History of the Three-Ring Binder?

by Chad Buleen; Updated September 26, 2017

The 3-ring binder is something that can be seen in schools and offices around the world. This binder is helpful because it gives students and those in offices the ability to organize and store whatever papers and documents they may have. The 3-ring binder is useful because not only does it keep papers organized, but it also helps keep papers protected from dirt or grime.

Early History

The loose-leaf paper patent was filed in 1854. As time went by, people realized that even though it was convenient to have loose-leaf paper, it was sometimes difficult to organize it. They saw that when they purchased paper already in notebooks, they did not need to worry about filing papers. In 1854, patents were filed for both the 2-ring and 3-ring binders by Henry T. Sisson of Providence, Rhode Island. Sisson recognized the need to be able to protect pages, although he was not yet exactly sure how to fix the problem. Sisson spent the next few years perfecting his design.

Time Frame

Even though the patent for the 2- and 3-ring binders was filed in the mid-1850s, it would take until 1899 for a binder to be available for purchase. The Chicago Binder and File Company was one of the 1st companies to offer a binder for sale. Companies first sold 2-ring binders but eventually found that 3-ring binders did a better job of holding papers in place.

Identification

The first 3-ring binders were covered with a heavy cardboard-like binding. This differs from many binders today, which are made of plastic. The metal parts that opened to allow people to place paper into the binder were made of cold rolled steel. The metal was also nickel-plated and highly polished.

Size

The 3-ring binder has not changed much in size in its 100+ years of existence. The size of a binder depends on the size of the paper it is designed to hold. Most 3-ring binders are about 12 inches tall and about 10 inches wide, when closed. This size has stayed the same because the size of loose-leaf paper has always been somewhere around 8.5-by-11 inches.

Considerations

The amount of paper that a person wants to place inside a 3-ring binder has always depended on the size of the rings inside the binder. A 3-ring binder has been created with several different sizes of rings. The smallest rings in 3-ring binders are about 1/2 inch, while the largest ring binders are 3 inches in diameter.

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