Did you ever use a tape measure as a child to measure your height or perhaps to measure around corners for a project?
On July 14th, we celebrate National Tape Measure Day, recognizing the importance of this essential tool in numerous industries like construction, carpentry, sewing, and many others. This special day honours the invention and longstanding significance of the tape measure, which can be traced back several centuries. From using body parts such as the foot or the cubit, to using ropes, there is no doubt that the tape measure has revolutionized the measurements methods.
Back in the early 1800s, women wore hoop skirts which required an undergarment made out of flat metal to maintain the shape of the skirt, creating bell-shaped silhouettes. As fashion evolved and the hoop skirts faded away, there was a surplus of flat wire.
In 1829 James Chesterman, a steelmaker in the fashion industry, decided to put marks on the flat metal, creating measurements. This was the first spring tape measure. It came in a leather case for easy transport and use, making it more compact and lighter than other measurement products used at the time. This new product was sold for $17 in the United States – equivalent to about $300 today.
As years passed, the tape measure underwent further development. In 1868, Alvin J. Fellows obtained a patent for a tape measure featuring a spring click mechanism, allowing the tape to be securely locked into place at any desired distance when extended. Even with this new feature, the tape measure struggled to gain acceptance in the construction industry. At the time, the carpenter’s folding wooden ruler was the most popular measuring device due to its low price, making it the preferred tool.
However, it was during the 1940s that the tape measure made its way among construction workers. As the cost of the tape measure decreased, people began to adopt and embrace the tape measure, recognizing its usability and convenience.
Since then, the tape measure continued to evolve with advancements in technology and materials. Today, tape measures are typically made of durable materials such as fiberglass or metal and come in various lengths and designs to suit different purposes.
National Tape Measure Day serves as a reminder of the importance of accurate measurements in a wide range of industries. It recognizes the ingenuity of those who contributed to the development of this essential tool and celebrates its impact on construction, crafting, and countless other applications.