The first known stapler was handmade in the 18th century in France for King Louis XV. Each staple was inscribed with the insignia of the royal court, as required. The growing uses of paper in the 19th century created a demand for an efficient paper fastener. On August 7, 1866, the Patent Novelty Mfg Co. patented the Novelty Paper Fastener. It loaded a single staple at a time, and was used to mainly bind papers or books—but also carpet, furniture, and boxes. The P.N. Mfg Co. made staples for the fastener in several sizes.
In 1866, Joan Barbour received U.S. patent no. 56,587 for a small, bendable brass paper fastener that was a precursor to the modern staple. In 1867, he received U.S. patent no. 67,665 for a press to insert the fastener into paper. He showed his invention at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and continued to work on these and other various paper fasteners through the 1880s. In 1868 a patent was also taken out for a stapler in England by . On February 18, 1879, C.H. Gould received patent nº 212,316 for the McGill Single-Stroke Staple Press. This device weighed over two and a half pounds and loaded a single 1/2 inch wide wire staple, which it could drive through several sheets of paper.
In the early 1900s, several devices were developed and patented that punched and folded papers to attach them to each other without a metallic clip. The Clipless Stand Machine (made in North Berwick) sold from 1909 into the 1920s. It cut a tongue in the paper that it folded back and tucked in. Bump’s New Model Paper Fastener used a similar cutting and weaving technology.