History of Corrugated Boxes
The Cardboard Box Unapreciated yet Indespensable
105 AD China: The fascinating history of corrugated boxes starts in Ancient China where the paper was invented around 100 BC during the Han dynasty.
However, it wasn’t until 105 AD that the likes of a paper-making industry was established by a government official named Cai Lun.The resourceful Chinaman started producing paper with the help of a groundbreaking concoction of chopped mulberry bark, hemp rags, and water.
Cai Lun’s paper production method of flattening the unusual mixture, removing the excess water, and letting it dry in the sun proved to be a great success and quickly spread throughout China.
1817: The first documented instance a cardboard box being used was in 1817 for a German board game called “The Game of Besieging,” a popular war strategy game.
The British industrialist Sir Malcolm Thornhill was the first person to produce commercial boxes from single cardboard sheets.
However, the look and feel of Thornhill’s boxes had little in common with the unmistakable and painfully familiar design of the corrugated cardboard boxes of today.
1856: The corrugated paper was patented in England in 1856, and the patent was awarded to the British inventors Edward Allen and Edward Healey.
Interestingly, the corrugated paper of that time was only used as a lining material for tall hats. They wanted a material that could act as a linear and keep the shape of the hat while providing warmth
1871: In December of 1871, Albert Jones was awarded a patent in the United States for “improvement in the paper for packing.” In the patent, he describes a new way of packing that provides easier transportation and prevents the breakage of bottles and vials.
The New Yorker used the corrugated board to wrap glass bottles for safe shipping.
A few years after this, the cardboard box that we know and love finally, quite literally, took shape.
1874: The history of cardboard boxes continues with the actual invention of corrugated cardboard as we know it today.
In 1874, a man by the name of Oliver Long took the next logical step and improved the corrugated board design by adding liner sheets on both sides of the cardboard.
His brilliant idea took the crush resistance and stacking strength of the cardboard boxes of that time to another level – the newly-designed packing boxes could hold heavier loads without breaking and allowed to be safely stacked much higher.
The first machine for producing large quantities of corrugated cardboard was built in 1874 by G. Smyth.
1890: In 1890, Robert Gair (a printer and a paper bag maker from Brooklyn)invented the pre-cut cardboard by sheer accident.
One day, a metal ruler that was used to crease the bags in his factory malfunctioned and consequently cut the bags instead of crease them.
The “unfortunate” accident that seemingly destroyed 20,000 seed bags made the Brooklynite realize that by cutting and creasing the cardboard material, he could make prefabricated cartons with flat pieces that folded into convenient packing boxes.
By 1895, corrugated cardboard boxes jumped shores and began being produced in America for the first time.