From Hoop Skirts to Handy Famm- The History of the Tape Measure

From Hoop Skirts to Handy Famm- The History of the Tape Measure

If you're a DIY champ, a Handy Famm enthusiast, a contractor, a teacher, or anyone else who is rocking a toolbox, you've probably got a trusty tape measure in there. Let's take a trip down memory lane of tape measures and see how they evolved into the fantastic tools we know today.

Hoop Skirts and the $300 Tape Measure Adventure

Back in the early 1800s, hoop skirts were all the rage in Britain. Imagine giant skirts with flat metal hoops creating those fabulous silhouettes! As fashion trends changed, hoop skirts exited stage left. However, a clever metalworker named James Chesterman saw potential in the flat metal used for these skirts. In 1829, he patented a spring tape measure that rocked marked measurements. Encased in a donut-shaped leather case, this nifty tool was portable and practical.

Chesterman brought his invention to the United States, where it sold for a whopping $17, equivalent to about $300 in today's dollars! With a tool that costs a small fortune, it's no wonder inventors kept innovating.

Tape Measure 2.0 Takes the Stage

Fast forward to 1868 in New Haven, Connecticut – Alvin J. Fellows stepped up the tape measure game. He patented a new version with a "spring-click" feature, allowing the tape to lock in place when extended. If you've ever used a modern tape measure, you know how handy this feature is for marking increments during construction. Yet, the carpenter's folding wooden ruler remained the go-to tool due to its affordable price of just $.60.

But don’t worry, the tape measure's time to shine was on the horizon. By the 1940s, prices dropped, and people started recognizing the convenience, accuracy, and usability of tape measures. And that, with a few steps in between, brings us to the birth of Handy Famm!

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