National Tape Measure Day Date in the current year: July 14, 2024

National Tape Measure Day National Tape Measure Day is a fun holiday celebrated annually on July 14. It commemorates the day in 1868 when Alvin J. Fellows was granted a patent for a spring-click tape measure.

A tape measure, also known as measuring tape, is a flexible ruler that can be made of cloth, plastic, fiber glass or metal. It is a common measuring tool that allows to measure great lengths or distances and at the same takes up little space. Since tape measures are flexible, they permit to measure around corners or curves.

The history of modern tape measures dates back to the first half of the 19th century. The first patent for a steel tape measure was patented by James Chesterman, an English metalworker. He produced flat wires that were used to make hoop cages for skirts. As hoop skirts temporarily went out of fashion, Chesterman decided to find a new application for flat wires and invented a spring tape measure. However, Chesterman’s invention didn’t become widespread because it was too bulky and expensive ($17 or about $300 in today’s money).

The “second birth” of the tape measure occurred in the 1860s. The first patent for a long tape measure in the United States was issued to William H. Paine. However, his tape measure was rather impractical: it had no markings and could only be used to measure a distance equal to the total length of the tape.

The first patent for a spring return pocket tape measure was granted to William H. Bangs in 1864, but it was Alvin J. Fellows’s design that became the basis for the tape measure we all know today. His version of the tape measure, patented on July 14, 1868, had a mechanism locking the tape into place when extended. This design was further improved by several inventors.

The tape measure design that has become standard for modern pocket tape measures was created by Hiram A. Farrad in the 1920s. However, it took a few more decades for tape measures to become truly popular, at least within the construction industry, because carpenter’s folding rulers were much cheaper. Tape measures became truly affordable around the 1940s.

Modern tape measures can be made of different materials and have different lengths and scales (metric, imperial or dual). Their design can be adapted to specific uses or trades. For example, measuring tapes for sewing are usually made of plastic or fiberglass, whereas measuring tapes for construction or carpentry are typically made of metal and have a hook to make measuring easier. Tape measures used in surveying are even divided into classes depending on their material and accuracy.

The origin of National Tape Measure Day is unclear, but it is great that someone came up with the idea to celebrate this useful tool. You can observe the holiday by buying a new tape measure for your toolbox, giving someone a tape measure as a gift, learning interesting facts about the history of the tape measure and sharing them with others, and spreading the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtags #NationalTapeMeasureDay and #TapeMeasureDay.

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National Tape Measure Day, unofficial holidays, observances in the US, tape measure, measuring tape