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Exploring the History of Barbed Wire

Metal inventions have played a fundamental role in shaping the modern world that we live in today. This week, we look at the history of one of the simplest, yet most influential metal inventions of the 19th century, barbed wire.

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  1. The modern barbed wire design was first patented by Joseph Glidden in 1873. Legend has it that Glidden was coaxed into the idea by his wife Lucinda, who wanted a way to enclose their garden. The patented design was nicknamed ‘The Winner’, for a year after it’s creation.

 

  1. Barbed wire quickly became a popular way of defining land rights in the American West, as prior to it’s invention it was hard to contain cattle and enforce land ownership. Historians often single out barbed wire as the ‘invention that tamed the West’.

 

  1. However, barbed wire got rid of ‘the law of the open range’ in the West where cattle could roam free and access food and water, and cowboys could drive them to larger cities for sale and export. This caused tension between cattlemen and farmers and resulted in cattlemen forming fence cutting gangs.

 

  1. The invention of barbed wire also played a key role in the extinction of the buffalo population, as it reduced their access to grazing land. This in turn disrupted the Native American way of life that involved following the seasonal migration of the buffalo.

 

  1. Some nicknames for barbed wire include ‘the devil’s rope’, ‘bob wire’ or ‘bobbed wire’.

 

  1. In the early days of telephone technology, barbed wire fences were used as telephone wires in rural areas. In 1907, 18,000 independent telephone cooperatives were serving a million and a half people in rural areas around America through barbed wire telephone connections.

 

  1. Barbed wire was first used in a military context during the Spanish-American War by both the Spanish and President Roosevelt’s volunteer cavalry as a defensive tactic. It wasn’t until World War I that barbed wire was used as a weapon in trench warfare.

 

Metal Men Recycling offer cash for scrap metal in Melbourne and accept all different types and grades of scrap, including barbed wire. To learn more about our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 03 5941 6677.