“Did some of the Victorian-time people use duct tape?”

Peter Rabbit, modeling the Best Necklace Ever.

After presenting me with a Victorian necklace crafted of the finest rainbow-splattered duct tape and yellow construction paper, The Five-Year-Old was naturally concerned about the authenticity of her work.

“Mommyo, did the Victorian-time people use duct tape?”

I didn’t know off-hand when duct tape was invented, but I was pretty sure that it happened well after Queen Victoria had bid this world a graceful adieu.

Sure enough, according to IdeaFinder, duct tape was invented by the Permacel Division of Johnson & Johnson in 1942. Its first use was a military application — waterproofing ammunition cases. It wasn’t long, however, before resourceful soldiers found all kinds of other uses for this versatile tape. Soldiers used their Army green “duck tape” to repair everything from guns to aircraft.

After the war, the housing contractors got wind of this miraculous stuff and immediately put it to work connecting heating and air conditioning ducts. Once the manufacturers changed their product’s name to duct tape and its color from Army Green to silver (to match the ducts), it was only a matter of time before home-owners got into the act, using the stuff for everything from inappropriate plumbing repairs to homemade wallets and did I mention jewelry?

The Five-Year-Old, sternly: “Mommyo, you have to have your necklace checked once a month for rips. Let me know if it breaks and I’ll tape it.”

Mommyo: “Thank you. It’s perfect with pjs.”

The Five-Year-Old, enthusiastically: “Oh, Mommyo, you can wear it anytime. Even outside!”

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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3 Responses to “Did some of the Victorian-time people use duct tape?”

  1. jkstamy08 says:

    That’s pretty funny, I love how duct tape is now in a million different colors! 🙂


  2. William says:

    I think that during the Victorian Era they called it “Ventilatative Adhesive Mitigator” or something long winded like that. It was very important first aid treatment whenever any of Queen Victoria’s pet ducks were in need of medical attention.


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