An Old-Time Compo-Staples Connection

Around Westport, “Staples” means one thing: our high school.

Everyone knows the name. Some folks (though not enough) know that the namesake is Horace Staples. In 1884, at the age of 80 — after making a fortune in lumber, shipping, farming, banking, and a silk and axe factory — he “put up” a school.

Horace Staples. However, this story is not about him.

Horace Staples. However, this story is not about him.

But this isn’t a story about Horace Staples. It’s about what the rest of the world thinks of when they hear “staples”: the tiny wire thingies that fasten sheets of paper together.

The other day, Mark Kramer was cleaning out his late father’s Minuteman Hill house. Sid died in December, a month short of his 100th birthday. A noted publisher and literary agent, he’d lived in Westport for much of his adult life. There was a lot of stuff around.

Mark spotted an old stapler — one he’d used at Staples, before graduating in 1961. Curious, he went online to learn more about it.

He did not find that device. But he stumbled on a whole web world of stapler aficionados.

Including this, from Tom Crandall on the Antique Outings website:

OK I will admit it. I just love staplers from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  There is something special about them that just warms my heart. The Compo Stapler was manufactured by the Compo Manufacturing Company located in Westport Connecticut. The patent  dates back to 1923 and was invented by Richard J. Holt-Hausen….

The Compo Stapler.

The Compo Stapler.

The patent was for a Staple Machine, which at the time, was what some staplers were referred to as. I couldn’t find much information on how long the Compo Manufacturing Company existed for or how long the Compo stapler was produced.

The Compo Stapler was sold as a non clogging paper stapler. It accepted No 1 staples, but they suggested using the Combo No 1 staples to increase sales no doubt. It was touted as a stapler that could also unbend staples. They even made a rubber cushion that would fit on top of the plunger. They had a motto “It Never Foils In the Clinches.”

There you have it. Everything you never even knew you needed to know about Westport’s connection to staples.

But if you know more — like where the Compo Manufacturing Company was located — hit “comments.” Westport — and stapler fans everywhere — want to know.

9 responses to “An Old-Time Compo-Staples Connection

  1. Seth Schacter

    Here is some info I found on the internet when I picked up my “Compo Stapler”. Mine is full of a lot of rust and certainly does not look as shiny as Dan’s image shows. I wasn’t able to find out where in Westport the company was located.

    The Compo Stapler was manufactured by the Compo Manufacturing Company located in Westport Connecticut. The patent dates back to 1923 and was invented by Richard J. Holt-Hausen. The US patent office has the inventor listed as “BICHABD J. HOLZHAXTSEN.

    Richard submitted the patent (1441683) on December 14th, 1921 and it was approved on January 9th, 1923. The patent was for a Staple Machine, which at the time, was what some staplers were referred to as. I couldn’t find much information on how long the Compo Manufacturing Company existed for or how long the Compo stapler was produced.

    The Compo Stapler was sold as a non clogging paper stapler. It accepted No 1 staples, but they suggested using the Combo No 1 staples to increase sales no doubt. It was touted as a stapler that could also unbend staples. They even made a rubber cushion that would fit on top of the plunger. They had a motto “It Never Foils In the Clinches.”

  2. That’s a beautiful machine. Looks like it might be suitable for home defense as well. Richard J. Holtz-Hausen lived with his wife Mary on King Street in ’23. He’s listed in the directory that year as treasurer of Compo Corp. The company itself was somewhere on State Street in Westport.

    • Seth Schacter

      Thanks Morley — great to have a little more info on Richard and the company location on State Street.

  3. Paul Greenberg

    I have two of them that I purchased from eBay years ago. And, yes Morley, the body casting is substantial in mass!

    An advertisement I have for the stapler gives an address as “Compo Sales Company, 149 Church Street, New York”. No doubt a subsidiary of Compo Manufacturing Company.

  4. Nick Thiemann

    My son Clark has always felt thqt the town has missed a chance to make some money by selling the naming rights to our high school football “stadioum” to our to the office superstore.

  5. Morley Boyd

    Just took a stroll thru the current Ebay offerings for vintage staplers. Unfortunately no Compos! But what an amazing and, in many cases, poetic inventory of human ingenuity. I can see why people collect these and, if you live on Compo North, Compo South, Compo Parkway, etc I regret to report your life (or at least your desk) is not complete without one of these little guys. For the millionth time Dan, thanks for deepening our knowledge of all things Westport.

  6. Paul Greenberg

    On close inspection, one of my staplers still had a few of the funky looking staples inside and on that particular one, the bar under “Compo” was inscribed: “Pat. Jan 9, 23 – Others Pend.”

    and they are cute little machines.

  7. Here’s some information we gleaned from Westport Library resources.

    According to the 1923-1924 Westport and Saugatuck City Directory, the Compo Manufacturing Corp was located on “State.” The “pres and manager” was “George J Grossman.” Mr. Grossman lived on “Morningside Drive.” (pages: p.48, 61, 116) We only find this one reference to the Compo Manufacturing Corp in the city directories. We checked with the Office of the Secretary of State. There was no record for “Compo Manufacturing Corp.”

    George Grossman is listed in the city directories in Westport for many years. The listing in the 1925-1926 City Directory includes the “Westport Mfg Co 1 State West.” (p.68)

    – Susan Luchars, Sylvia Savage, and Margie Freilich-Den, Reference Department, Westport Library

    • This is great — thanks! “State Street” was the old name for the Post Road — I think it changed in the 1960s, or maybe early ’70s.