National Tape Measure Day is a holiday that’s dedicated to one of the most fundamental pieces of equipment that a handyman or carpenter can have in their toolbox. This important piece of equipment is a tape measure—a tool that allows people to measure materials for construction, maintenance, and DIY projects. It’s a holiday that’s observed annually on July 14th and is one in which participants can not only celebrate this handy tool but maybe even buy themselves a new one.
The History of the Tape Measure
Tape measure surprisingly owes their existence to a 19th-century fad in Britain. During the early 1800s, some women in Britain wore hoop skirts that were made with flat metal that was fashioned into a circle. These hoop skirts increased the silhouettes of the women and gave them a bell shape that was cooler and allowed them to move more freely than conventional skirts. However, as is the case with just about any fad, they left the scene almost as soon as they had entered it.
The flat pieces of metal that were used for the skirts were then fashioned into a spring tape measure by British metalworker James Chesterman. In 1829, he patented a spring tape measure that had marked measurements on its flat metal blade. He sold them for $17 in the U.S at the time, which when adjusted for inflation would be $300 today! Fortunately, a new tape measure, or at least the first patent for a new tape measure, was issued in 1868 to Alvin J. Fellows of New Haven, Connecticut. This tape measure was significantly cheaper.