Still on The Hunt for The Perfect Clothespin

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A gimme sunny day [*uh oh, skies are very dark all of a sudden] to hang sheets and kitchen dish towels out on the line but alas, those darn cheap clothespins are a pain – they break, they rot, they don’t keep their spring.

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My grandmother and mother used the classic wooden clothespin without a spring that they kept in a bag on the line.

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That kind didn’t work for me – things kept falling off the line. Forget plastic ones – they are the worst. So I Googled Best Wooden Clothespin and found Herrick Kimball of Moravia, N.Y. He hand-makes what his website calls The Classic American Clothespin.

American Clothespins #6
Photo courtesy of Classic American Clothespins

Mr. Kimball outlines the history of the clothespin – and it’s pretty fascinating – an American idea through and through. I didn’t know..

In 1887, Solon E. Moore, from the state of Vermont, was granted a patent for a new clothespin design (Click Here to see the patent drawing). It consisted of two “wooden levers” held together with a “coiled fulcrum” spring. Out of some 146 other clothespin patents granted between 1852 and 1887, Moore’s alone has stood the test of time.So it was that the quintessential clothespin was born in America. And for many generations, numerous American manufacturers produced many millions of hardwood clothespins with strong, dependable springs. However, 100+ years later (2002), with the closing of the Penly Clothespin Company in West Paris, Maine, only the National Clothespin Company, of Montpelier, Vermont, remained. Then, five years later, National shut their operation down. In the end, American clothespin manufacturers were driven out of business by a flood of cheap, Chinese-made clothespins.

In the spring of 2012, my wife complained to me about the poor quality of a package of imported clothespins she had recently purchased. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the complaint. But it was the first time I really paid attention. What got my attention was when she said that I should make a better clothespin.

I guess she figured that if I can invent a Whizbang chicken plucking machine, and a garden wheel hoe, and a cider press, and other down-to-earth tools, then I ought to be able to make a decent clothespin. I was intrigued with the idea.

After a little research, I came to the conclusion that there was universal dissatisfaction with cheap, imported clothespins. I figured somebody should bring the manufacture of quality clothespins back to America, and that somebody would be me. Why not?

I found an American spring manufacturer who would work with me on the project. I purchased 50,000 heavy-gauge, tight-coil, custom-made stainless steel clothespin springs. Then I spent the rest of 2012 working on a clothespin design—a new Classic American clothespin design.

In the fall of 2013, nearly a year and a half after deciding to bring quality wood-and-wire clothespins back to America, I made the very first Classic American clothespins. Those clothespins (approximately 12,000 of them) sold out remarkably fast, and the customer feedback was remarkably positive.

Alas, Kimball’s clothespins are in such demand, so popular, looks like the waitlist is pretty substantial. I’m impressed Kimball feels he can get through the wait list this year. he must have Santa’s elves helping.

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As all good things, the clothespins aren’t cheap but from the reviews, they are well worth the price and who doesn’t love the fact Kimball is making these in America!! I’m going to become Waitlist #416!

classic american pins on the line
Photo courtesy of Classic American Clothespins
These finished clothespins are treated with one coat of linseed oil finish. They are beautiful, and they are ready to use
Price Per Clothespin: $2.00 (plus a flat rate shipping charge of $7)

 

8 thoughts on “Still on The Hunt for The Perfect Clothespin

  1. Line dried linens. Crispy sheets and rough towels. What could be better except to have a fool-proof way to keep then on the clothesline. It’s been a while since I’ve hung laundry outside but I do happen to have a very old bag of very old clothespins around here somewhere. We keep stuff out of fear we might find a use for an obsolete item and will regret losing it. That and a hope the stuff will become truly valuable sometime during our lifetime.

    1. “We keep stuff out of fear we might find a use for an obsolete item and will regret losing”.

      Are you related to Mr. EOS???? 😀

      I don’t hang bath towels out for the very reason you stated- they end up too rough. Thunder overhead now but I’m not going to bring things in. They’ll just get a second wash, compliments of Ma Nature.

      1. Thrift and pride in thrift is a Yankee trademark. That’s how we can tell folks from ‘away’. They have new stuff. They move to historic towns for the ambiance and then tear down classic homes and build new ones.
        When old Yankees die, they leave their stuff to their kids who hold on to it because, well, because that’s what Yankees do. Eventually the stuff ends up at the ’boutique’ at the dump, the historical society or an ‘estate sale’ to be held by new owners who keep the stuff indefinitely. See a pattern here?
        Sometimes the stuff is actually worth keeping- but not very often.

        1. In all seriousness, Mr. EOS is a staunch supporter of all you said – he remembers as a child fixing farm fencing with what pieces of wood they could find in the barn, he always made what had to be fixed, there was always a pile of good stuff. He lives his entire life with this principle, which made tearing down the old garage to build the new carriage house a much bigger project than he was emotionally prepared for. There were decisions to make about what to keep and what had to be taken away. I’m far less of a keeper, a bone of contention between us on occasion. The kids are interested in many of the truly historic items (only through from Mr. EOS’s side since my family came on a much later boat!!) but an equal number of things will, as you said, end up at an estate sale with no bidders.

    1. Ha. GMTA. I suggested the very same idea to her (not that exact holder though) and she scoffed at the thought. One thing to know about my mother, she doesn’t know the word No, nor does she stop doing things just because of some silly broken wrist. I asked her if it was painful holding the cards and she said Yes. I asked if it was hard to sort her hand and she said Yes. Soooooo, I figured she’d also say Yes when I asked if buying a card holder would make sense. I’ll never learn.
      By The Way, bridge is a fabulous game. I played it growing up and through college and even played some duplicate tournaments. It’s great for the brain cells.

      1. I figured as much. You don’t get to be 97 by letting the young ‘uns boss you around (even if they might have a good idea from time to time).

        My parents played bridge, but, I never picked it up. I always thought I could learn myself with one of these they had around the house:

        But, never happened (too much going on outside).

        1. WE HAD ONE OF THOSE TOO!!!! Wow, that’s a throwback and it isn’t even Thursday.
          The other thing we had that was cool was an auto shuffler. Brown metal. I can’t remember how it worked- it wasn’t battery or electric operated but it was cool. My parents had custom felt card table cloths. Cute scorepads. Coasters. I suspect all that is stored in some box in my mother’s attic. At least I hope it’s all there. Gorgeous retro stuff.

          Found it – this – it was a hand crank – I think ours was brown but looking at this, it might be it.

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