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Barbed wire is a commonly used product in agriculture, transportation and other industries.

The unique design and composition make this wire construction sturdy – and sometimes harmless to the touch.


And on this day in history, November 24, 1874, the first commercially successful barbed wire was patented by Joseph Farwell Glidden.

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Gliddon was an American farmer originally from Charleston, New Hampshire.

According to Britannica, after growing up in Clarendon, New York and finishing school, he returned to his father’s farm to work.

Years later, he landed in De Kalb, Illinois and received He has a farm of his own.

After seeing a sample of barbed wire at the De Kalb Count Fair in 1873, Glidden decided to make some improvements of his own to the product – and eventually applied for a US patent.

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But he was not alone.

According to the Encyclopedia Online, two other men also applied for barbed wire patents with their own variations: lumberman Jacob Hash and merchant Isaac Leonard Ellwood.

However, Gliddon was the one who was awarded the patent.

Barbed wire, in 1874 by Joseph F.  Patent drawing for Glidden Improvement.

The original patent on barbed wire was filed in the United States in 1867, but Glidden obtained the patent for a new and improved form in 1874, according to Britannica.

Barbed wire typically consists of two long strands of wire that are twisted together to form a cable.

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Wire comes in many varieties depending on its use.

According to the Home Depot website regarding store-bought barbed wire, “Barbed wire will discourage unwanted entry and is adaptable to a variety of containment needs.”

Glidden's barbed wire became widely popular - and continues to be used across the country today.

“It can also be used with chain link or other fencing barriers for an added layer of security.”

Shortly after receiving the patent, Glidden also developed a machine to help him create new and improved barbed wire.

Glidden then hired Isaac L. Elwood to join him in forming a fencing company: De Kalb’s Barb Fence Company.

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The two worked together to create a product that served as a way to protect the livestock on their land.

The option of installing a wooden fence was always there; However, this was costly for landowners with hundreds of thousands of acres.

Barbed wire is commonly used as fencing for livestock in farms.

Barbed wire, however, was cheaper and easier to install.

According to the Encyclopedia Online, just a year after forming the fencing company, Glidden sold his half of the business to the Washburn & Moen Manufacturing Company of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Glidden is believed to have received over $60,000 plus lifetime royalties on the patent.

According to Britannica, just 15 years after the construction of barbed wire, fencing transformed land once open across the western United States.