Imagine a world without cardboard boxes. Difficult, right? Cardboard boxes may not be a particularly hot topic of conversation, but they are an indispensable part of our everyday lives. And yet, most people know very little about them – which is a shame, because the history of cardboard boxes is actually quite interesting. Don’t believe us? Here’s proof!
Behold, the cardboard box
1817, England. Sir Malcolm Thornhill
wakes up one morning with a luminous idea to produce boxes made from single sheets of cardboard. The cardboard box was born. It wasn’t corrugated yet, but that didn’t make it any less popular in the years that followed. Around 1840, silk manufacturers
started using cardboard boxes to transport moths and eggs from Japan to Europe. In the 1850s, cardboard boxes finally went mainstream when the Kellog Company
started using it as packaging for their cereals.
And then there was corrugated paper
Edward C. Healy and Edward E. Allen, both Englishmen, patented corrugated paper in 1856, but it was merely used as hat lining
. In 1871, New Yorker Albert L. Jones patented single-sided
corrugated board and the packaging industry started using it to wrap bottles and glass lanterns.
A fortunate accident
In 1890, a Brooklyn printer and paper bag manufacturer called Robert Gair accidentally invented the precut box when he was printing paper bags and a metal ruler – which he used to crease bags -suddenly shifted, cutting the bags. Gair put two and two together and realized he could make precut paperboard boxes
by cutting and creasing paperboard in one operation. In 1895 he applied his idea to corrugated cardboard and introduced the first corrugated cardboard box
to the world. The world welcomed Gair’s corrugated cardboard boxes with open arms and it didn’t take long until wooden crates and boxes all over the world were being replaced with cardboard boxes.
Thinking outside the box
Fun to know: in 2004, US architect Peter Melbourne took the cardboard box to a whole new level when he designed and built a house
made entirely from cardboard boxes – and yes, you can actually live in it