Barnums Bar Bending Ringling Clipperwhip - 1870 Germany
A chance free ticket given to our explorer Charles in 1889 gave him the
opportunity to meet the showman of the decade Phineas T.Barnum as he bought his
‘Greatest Show on Earth’ over from New York and straight to Olympia in London.
Charles was more interested in one of Barnums ‘acts’ though, the only tame
captive Clipperwhip, a curious animal that balances strength and dexterity into
one complete unit. Now P.T.Barnums top
of the bill crowd pleaser, the ‘Greatest Animal on Earth’
The only previous example was a fleeting glimpse that
Charles managed to get in 1858 whilst in Germany on a hunt for the Peppered
Pork Pie Pig. The Clipperwhip moved at lightening speed after being disturbed
as it ate horse chestnuts and skilfully weaved its way through the trees
completely unhindered by it’s duality, an ability that made it incredibly hard
to sneak upon.
Charles had no drawing facilities to hand so he improvised and used a small
metal cleaning brush from his shaving kit which he bent in an approximate
representation of the Clipperwhips distinctive curly shape. When he returned to
camp he made a sketch from memory and using the curly metal shape as reference.
Once he had finished sketching he inadvertently pushed the papers in between
the metal curl and found to his amazement the papers held together with this
A failure to patent his accidental finding led to the
paperclip being taken into common usage by the 1870’s after unscrupulous
companions copied his metal clip by the thousands.
Charles, upon meeting Barnums Clipperwhip, was amazed to
find that it was the very Clipperwhip that gave him the slip all those years
ago, with it’s fantastic memory and superior strength it was not only able to
describe exactly what he wore that day but also bent him a new bit of metal in
the shape of the now common paperclip.
The Clipperwhip bent metal bar is now one of the most prized possessions at the
National Museum of Antiquities along with Charles original bit of curly metal.