A-Z from Euroffice, we love office life…
….and pride ourselves on being the office supplies experts, with this in mind, we’ve come up with a handy product guide. The A – Z of Office Supplies. A gift from Euroffice to your office, to help you find out more about what we have to offer. Each week we’ll feature a selection of our favourite products along with some quirky facts about each of them and of course, all the information you’ll need to purchase your own. I wonder if anyone will get the full A-Z collection 🙂 … This week we shine the spotlight on N-R…
N is for…
- Ever heard of ‘trickle-down economics’? American economist Arthur Laffer came up with the basis for the theory while at a meeting – and sketched his idea down on a cocktail napkin.
- We all know that ply refers to a number of sheets (well, layers) of paper, but did you know that it comes from the latin ‘plicare’ to fold? You do now.
- Harold James Nicholson, a senior CIA official convicted of working for Russia, still managed to leak secrets while in prison. How? He passed them to his son in scrunched up napkins.
- The longest cigar in the world was 268′ long and was made by Cuban Jose Castelar Cueto in Havana in 2011. To put it another way, you’d need about 429 of these signs to tell Jose not to smoke.
- These days, people use a smoke break to get away from work, but if you were a fur trader in 18th Century America, you might take a puff as part of the job. Tobacco was used in trade rituals that involved speeches, pipe ceremonies and exchanging gifts.
- In 1975, the US and Soviet space agencies collaborated on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first spaceflight between the countries. As part of the easing up in relations, punters could buy commemorative cigarettes made from Russian and American tobacco.
O is for…
- PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride and, you guessed it, that’s the same vinyl that we mean when we talk about records. I’m not sure you should put this mat on a turntable, though.
- Was the Baharestan carpet the world’s fanciest chair mat? Made for a Persian palace’s audience hall, it was up to 450′ long, 90′ wide & woven from silk, gold & jewels. It was cut up and divided as spoils when Arabs captured the palace in 673 AD.
- PVC has some gruesome uses too. A corrupt dental surgeon in America paid off funeral homes to steal bits from bodies. If they took bones, they replaced them with plastic pipes so relatives couldn’t tell the difference.
- In the early 90s, the US Department of Energy looked into designing warning signs for nuclear waste sites. The catch? They were to last for 10,000 years, so had to transcend language and cultural context.
- How do you know a safety sign in Telford means the same thing in Tokyo? If it’s ISO accredited. The International Organization for Standardization develops rules that define industrial standards globally.
- If you were a driver in the inter-war years and were worried about bad weather or getting lost, you’d keep an eye out for safety signs put up by the AA. The company even marked the edges of roads with reflective posts.
P is for…
- Paper plates aren’t the first form of disposable dinnerware in the western world. In mediaeval England, plates were made of hardened stale bread. Called trenchers, they became infected with mould and worms. Unsurprisingly, they moved on to wooden trenchers.
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not! ran a competition to find the strangest item someone could send through the US post without packaging. The winner: Michele Cassidy, who posted a McDonald’s meal: burger, fries and apple pie glued to a paper plate.
- Roy Lichtenstein, the founder of Pop Art, created a screenprint on a white paper plate. Called Untitled and done in 1969, this is one of his many works that feature everyday objects.
- Have you heard that some insects use pencils? Male moths and butterflies use hair pencils, little strands that pop out from the abdomen, that release pheromones to attract and tranquilise females. That’s… really creepy.
- We all know that modern pencils use graphite, not lead. But did you know graphite was used to decorate pottery in the Balkans and Central Europe in the middle Neolithic period? That’s about 7,000 BC.
- After natural rubber, AKA caoutchouc, was discovered, it was 300 years before anybody in the West thought of something to do with it. That’s when, in 1767, Englishman Joseph Priestly realised it could rub out pencil marks.
- The Ghanian Ashanti kingdom in the 16th century used Adaka Kesie (the Big Box) and Apim Adaka (the Box of Thousand) for the monarch’s current and petty cash accounts. The first box held gold dust collected as revenue; payments made from the second one from were recorded in cowrie shells.
- Parliamentary records for 1832 show the government spent £1824 (£150,000 in today’s money) on keeping official records. Payments include petty cash, bookbinding, stationery and postage bills.
- The Native American Nez Perce people used to paint their art on buffalo hide. After white settlers killed all the buffalo, the Nez Perce started using the traders’ cashbooks as canvases instead.
Q is for…
- The first depiction of a projector might have come from Johannes de Fontana (d.1455), who drew a picture of a small lantern that threw an image of the devil onto a wall. Cheery fellow, then.
- The first ever screen kiss was shown on an Edison Vitascope projector (marketed, but not invented, by Thomas Edison). It was 1896 and the awkward smoochers were John C. Rice and May Irwin.
- For the cheekiest use of a projector, we need to look to FHM magazine. In a 1999 PR stunt, it projected an enormous nude of Gail Porter, a former kids’ TV presenter, onto the Houses of Parliament. It was a full moon that night.
R is for…
- In April 2014, a group of office buildings in San Francisco used Post-it notes in their windows for a bit of fun and games. They created amusing messages, admitted to having a hangover and even played collective Hangman.
- Scientists at a university in Kiel, Germany, have discovered that frogs’ tongues have an adhesive that helps them trap their prey without tearing their tongues. It’s like the stickiness of Post-its, which can be peeled without damage.
- Art Fry, one of the two men behind the invention of the Post-it note, has a personalised car number plate. You guessed it: it says POSTIT. (The company makes more than 50 billion notes each year.)
- Rufus Drumknott, one of the characters in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, has a passion for stationery. His mission in life is to design a better kind of ring binder.
- Howard Carter, the archaeologist who found the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1923, used a ring binder to file his records: ‘Notes, Diary, and Articles, Referring to the Theban Royal Necropolis and the Tomb of Tutankhamen’ (sic).
- Henry T Sisson of Rhode Island filed patents for two-ring and three-ring binders in 1854, as a way of solving the problem of filing loose sheets of paper. They were popularly called ‘common sense binders’, highlighting their practical use.
Check out the full A-Z of Office Supplies by Euroffice: