As with many famous inventions it seems, the Post-it note came about, not just accidentally, but also as the opposite of the desired outcome – a super adhesive – that Dr. Spencer Silver was hoping for.
Post-it notes are recognisable as those small yellow papers synonymous with busy office desks, desktop screens and now laptop screens – although some now using the electronic format. The iconic colour of the popular little yellow notes also came about by complete fluke. Art Fry, also a 3M employee at the time, used the glue as an adhesive for his bookmark, after noticing the usefulness he developed his idea using yellow scrap paper from a neighbouring lab because it was the only paper they had.
It was initially launched under the name ‘Press ’n Peel’ which didn’t stick. It was re-marketed the following year as ‘Post-its’ and by the 1980s went global.
We can always rely on the creative nature of people to make something out of boring, old, everyday items and after some time the world brought life to the Post-it note. It found its way into popular culture through art exhibitions, graphic journals and even protests! One of the classic examples is “The Yellow Stickee Diary of a Mad Secretary” by Rosa Maria Arenas where some 2000 drawings were collected over a decade and made into a journal.
As we can expect, being 2019 and all, there are now over 25 variations of the Post-it note which vary by colour, size, adhesive strength and even different shapes.
A single Post-it was sold for £640 that was done by R. B. Kitaj. At a scale of 3×5” that is quite an expensive piece of art relative to its size.