Saturday, November 4, 2017

20th Century Torture Devices

There are times when a particular interest about an object crops up and I feel the need to stop what I'm doing and look into the motivation or design of it for my own personal edification.

Fortunately this happens when I'm by my lonesome, more often than not, which is the best time for this curiosity to raise its head. Because when it happens with another party or party present, well ... you can imagine how it might be annoying. Chalk it up as one of my (many, many) personal quirks.

Such a situation came about while I was taking down Halloween decorations earlier in the week. I have this nifty Disney Haunted Mansion poster that goes up every October. It's colorful, printed on heavy, quality stock and is a perfect accouterment for the holiday. Well, it goes up on the wall with thumb tacks, something I personally hate but which works perfectly without damaging it. (One of these days I'm going to get the thing properly framed and behind glass instead of stored in its protective tube.)

But it's the thumb tacks I hate. Because the little buggers are often difficult to work with. Going up, no problem. Align the poster, position the thumb tack just outside the range of the edge so as not to pierce the stock and push. << VOILA! >> Less than a dozen tacks later the poster in place. No muss, no fuss. 

It's the taking down part that's the pain in the back of my front. This particular day, just prior to commencing the poster's removal, I got to thinking about thumb tacks. You see, they're difficult for me to remove. I have to get my nail in between the tack and the wall in order to extract them. Repeating this process over and over and over again tends to irritate the skin beneath my nails. And then I walk around the rest of the day with sensitive fingertips, often wincing whenever I have to use my hands. And that's when I stopped and looked up the history of thumb tacks.

It was Edwin Moore who invented the "push-pin" in 1900 to attach various items to a wall or board for display. The pin was specifically intended to be inserted by hand without the assistance of tools. Push pins! I love push pins! Because they have a little raised gripper used for applying and removing the pin easily! And you don't need to pry your fingernails into the thing to remove it! But that would change ...

So much more convenient to use overall ...
... but not as aesthetically pleasing ...

The bastardization (some might say "improvement") of Moore's invention was morphed a few years later by a German clockmaker, Johann Kirsten, who took the pin and made it a flat-headed tack used to hold drawings. It's Mr. Johann Kirsten I'd like to go back in time and meet and have a word or two with about his modifications of Moore's original push-pin. You'd think - as a clockmaker who is constantly working with his hands on delicate items - it would be important to protect one's hands and fingers in light of the profession that employs you. 

But ... maybe I'm being too sensitive, too much of a big baby about the situation. Maybe, just maybe, this is one of those "Suck it up, Buttercup" moments I need to come to grips with instead. Because thumb tacks are pretty handy when it comes right down to it.

Regardless, I still don't like a particular German clockmaker very much ...

.......... Ruprecht ( It's either STOP using thumb tacks or stop putting up my poster )

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain! Thumb tacks can be a royal pain (literally). I have a trick that might help you in the future, though. You know those little wire twist ties that are used to keep your bread fresh, close produce bags, and seal up trash bags? Use one of those instead of trying to use your nails. Just wrap it around the thumb tack until the wire goes beneath, then pull up. Viola! It's painless and goes by fairly quickly. You could probably also substitute a thicker thread or fishing line, just be careful not to hurt your hands pulling on it.