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Welcome to Beautiful, Dependable, Traditional-Style Clothespins

By: Herrick Kimball
Updated: 25 March 2024

A Classic American Clothespin.

A Classic American

My Story... 

Classic American Clothespins is a small, home-based  business with a big mission. My family and I are bringing the manufacture of high-quality, spring-and-wood clothespins back to America. Our goal is not to be an enormous, centralized clothespin manufacturing company, but to re-introduce a well-made, useful clothespin and encourage the small-scale, decentralized production of these clothespins by entrepreneurial woodworkers all across the nation. 

Here is the story of how and why I have come to develop Classic American clothespins, and what makes these clothespins so special....

The Rise & Fall 
Of The American Clothespin

In 1887, Solon E. Moore, from the state of Vermont, was granted a patent for a new clothespin design (Click Here to see the patent drawing). It consisted of two "wooden levers" held together with a "coiled fulcrum" spring. Out of some 146 other clothespin patents granted between 1852 and 1887, Moore's alone has stood the test of time.

So it was that the quintessential clothespin was born in America. And for many generations, numerous American manufacturers produced many millions of hardwood clothespins with strong, dependable springs. 

However, 100+ years later (2002), with the closing of the Penley Clothespin Company in West Paris, Maine, only the National Clothespin Company, of Montpelier, Vermont, remained. Then, five years later, National shut their operation down. In the end, American clothespin manufacturers were driven out of business by a flood of cheap, Chinese-made clothespins.

Imported Clothespins 
Are Junk
Imported clothespins have weak springs and come apart easily. 

Imported clothespins are cheap in price and cheap in quality. Anyone who hangs clothes with them knows it. The wood is soft and weak. The springs are wimpy. Such clothespins are discouraging to use because they don't hold clothes on the line dependably, and they break easily. Plastic clothespins are hardly any better. They degrade and eventually break when subjected to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

My Vision To Start 
A New American Clothespin Company
Classic American clothespin prototypes in 2012

In the spring of 2012, my wife complained to me about the poor quality of a package of imported clothespins she had recently purchased. It wasn't the first time I had heard the complaint. But it was the first time I really paid attention. What got my attention was when she said that I should make a better clothespin. 

I guess she figured that if I can invent a Whizbang chicken plucking machine, and a Whizbang wheel hoe, a Whizbang cider press, and other down-to-earth tools, then I ought to be able to make a decent clothespin. I was intrigued with the idea.

After a little research, I came to the conclusion that there was universal dissatisfaction with cheap, imported clothespins. I figured somebody should bring the manufacture of quality clothespins back to America, and that somebody would be me. Why not?

I found an American spring manufacturer who would work with me on the project. I purchased 50,000 heavy-gauge, tight-coil, custom-made stainless steel clothespin springs. Then I spent the rest of 2012 working on a clothespin design—a new Classic American clothespin design.

In the fall of 2013, nearly a year and a half after deciding to bring quality wood-and-wire clothespins back to America, I  made the very first Classic American clothespins. Those clothespins (approximately 12,000 of them) sold out remarkably fast, and the customer feedback was remarkably positive.

Here's What Makes 
Classic American Clothespins So Special

Classic American clothespins conform to the tried-and-true, traditional style pins first developed by Solon Moore back in 1887. But, it so happens that my Classic American clothespins are also an improvement over the old clothespins...

A Better Spring

The heart of a great clothespin—a clothespin that will dependably hold clothes on the line—is a quality spring. In the picture above you can see the spring on a cheap, imported clothespin (left) as compared to a Classic American clothespin. The Classic American spring is a heavier gauge of wire. Note also the skimpy coils on the imported clothespin, as opposed to the fully-wound spring on the Classic American.

The heavy wire gauge on my clothespins is the same as that of a particularly good old clothespin that once belonged to my mother. But instead of using a spring made with standard steel, I opted to have my Classic American clothespin springs made of stainless steel. As far as I can determine, stainless steel has never before been used to make a traditional-style clothespin. 

Stainless steel springs are, as you might imagine, more expensive to make, but I wanted a spring that would never rust.

Select American Hardwood

Traditional clothespin wood is either birch, beech or maple. Such hardwoods are durable, have a uniform light-colored grain, and do not bleed tannin stains onto clothing. I have no idea what kind of wood is used to make the cheap imported clothespins. It is Asian mystery wood. 

Classic American clothespins are made of ash lumber. Ash is a North American hardwood with high strength and excellent weathering qualities. Ash is commonly used for tool handles. It is a beautiful wood with a distinct grain, and the color varies from white to very dark.  It does not bleed tannins.

I chose ash because of its ideal physical properties, but also because it has such a distinct grain, which darkens to a lovely patina with the passage of time.  As a result, Classic American clothespins are simply beautiful—each has its own natural grain "identity." These clothespins have character like no other clothespin I've ever seen.

Grip Grooves & Overall Comfort 
click the picture to see an enlarged view

The picture above shows a dark-grained Classic American clothespin flanked by two old clothespins that have, over the years, developed the lovely dark patina that comes only with age (and care—those clothespins weren't left outdoors when not in use). The picture serves to show three distinct differences between the Classic American clothespin and the typical old-style pins.

First, take note of the "grip-grooves" in the Classic American pin. When you grasp a clothespin with grip grooves, your grip is more sure. It's a practical feature, as well as an aesthetic one.

Another difference with the Classic American is that the gripping ends of the pin are further apart than on the old-style clothespins. This extra distance makes it easier to grasp and operate the clothespin. You don't have to pinch-squeeze it with your fingertips to open it. You can, instead, grasp it between your fingers and palm to lever it open. This makes opening the clothespin easier for people who don't have a lot of fingertip strength.

And finally, you can see in the picture that the Classic American clothespin has more "bulk" to it. Total length of the pin is 3-1/2" (a bit more than usual) and there is a greater thickness to the wood. It is a substantial clothespin—but not awkwardly large. 

Classic American Clothespins
Aren't Cheap

As you can see, Classic American clothespins are not cheap in quality. On the contrary, they are the highest quality wooden clothespin I know of. But they also aren't cheap when it comes to cost. At $2.50 each (plus a flat shipping price of $8), my clothespins are downright pricey. 

I make no apology for the price because I know very well how much care and effort goes into making these pins. Besides that, I know my clothespins hold laundry on the line better than any wood-and-wire clothespin ever made. And I know that, with proper care, they will last more than one lifetime... 

These Are

In the final analysis, Classic American clothespins are made to be used, and to be cherished for their simple and dependable usefulness. They are thoughtfully designed, and carefully crafted to last a lifetime. I think old Solon E. Moore would approve.

I hope you'll try some of my clothespins, and then let me know what you think of them.

Herrick Kimball
Moravia, N.Y.