Scotch tape

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by Benzadmiral, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

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    I'm revising a story for an online contest. It opens in August of 1941 in New Mexico, and concludes just after the war ends.

    I know what we call "Scotch" tape was invented around 1930. Did people call it that in the early Forties? I'd have thought "cellophane tape" would have been the common phrase.
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The official name as of 1940 was SCOTCH Cellulose TAPE (capitalized like that, with "Cellulose" in a thin cursive face), so the company was clearly emphasising SCOTCH TAPE as a name by that time. The idea of "scotch tape" as a genericized term was underway by that point, but the tape itself wasn't as ubiquitous as it would become after the war. Gummed tape -- thin paper with a lick-and-stick adhesive back like on a stamp -- was cheaper and more commonly used.

    The familiar Scotch red-plaid motif in Scotch Tape advertising didn't come along until the product started to get heavily marketed around 1945.
     
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  3. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

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    We called it "scotch tape" regardless of
    the brand.
    A camera was referred to as the "kodak".
     
  4. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Let us not forget that the original reason that the word "Scotch" was attached to this product was because, unlike moistened gummed tape, this adhesive could (sometimes) be lifted up and reused... an economical, money-saving feature. It was "Scotch" because of the pervasive stereotype that all Scottish people were penny pinchers.

    In those days, when ethnic and racial stereotypes were the commonly accepted shorthand for vaudeville/radio/movie entertainment (not the stuff of defamation lawsuits and social media outrage): all Jews were greedy and plotting, all Italians were boisterous opera buffa characters, all African-Americans were shiftless and lazy, etc.,... and Scots were cheap.

    (Example: The 1936 Warner Bros. cartoon "The Blow Out", where Porky Pig is collecting pennies to buy himself an ice cream soda... and in one gag, before he can pick up a coin he spies on the sidewalk, a Scotty dog wearing a kilt runs from the end of the block in a flash and beats him too it.)

    I was told this by my father, who grew up in Manhattan in the twenties and personally recalled when Scotch tape became available. "The new tape was a great advance because unlike glued-paper tape, it could be removed and used again. It was called 'Scotch' because it saved you money, and everybody knew that Scottish people always wanted to avoid spending."
     
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  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "I boought a box o' pins hyeerrr marrrked a thoosand-foor-a-nickel. And when I got hoom an' cooounted the pins they was twoo shorrrrt. I wants me two pinnns er mah moooney back!" -- my favorite Scottish dialect bit from radio. I perform variations of it at work all the time, in reference to complaining customers who think they got shorted on their popcorn, and the kids don't know what I'm talking about.

    Another variation of the Scotch tape origin is that 3M skimped on the adhesive used on an early version of the tape, and an industrial user excoriated the tape salesman, telling him to "Go back to yer Scotch bosses an' tell 'em to put more stickum on the tape!"

    Down into the 80s, Scotch motifs were common on various discount/store brand cut-rate product labels. Scotch Maid, Bonnie Maid, Scotch Buy, etc. It was a rare newspaper supermarket sale flyer that didn't have a Sandy MacTavish caricature holding a little plaid coin purse and winking at the reader.
     
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  6. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    And don't forget the Studebaker Scotsman, a car so cheap they painted the hubcaps!

    Studebaker Scotsman.jpg

    Back on topic: Somewhere I've seen a wartime ad for Scotch Tape with a lady repairing an umbrella and lamenting that they were using all the tape to seal blood cartons for the front.
     
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  7. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

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    So, Lizzie, it sounds like I could have my character refer to either "Scotch tape" or "gummed tape." Of course the story is intended for a modern audience, so I suspect that the former might work better, while still avoiding an anachronism.
     
  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep. Some people called gummed tape "sticky paper" if that's worth anything, but the term might be impenetrable to modern folk.
     
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  9. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Yup, in my mind Scotch Tape is as generic as Kleenex.
    Btw, welcome back Benz. I was starting to wonder (either that or I’ve just been looking at the wrong threads.) Hope all is well.
     
  10. Ticklishchap

    Ticklishchap One Too Many

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    Was it called the Scotsman because of the cheapskate image? (I have Scottish and Scots-Irish heritage and so I’m allowed to say that!)

    It looks curiously like a Soviet era model.
     
  11. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    Yes, exactly. Just like the joke about the shortest books in the library including "A History of Scots-Irish Charity." Same reason penny-pinching Uncle Scrooge is portrayed with a Scottish accent, I suspect.
     
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  12. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    And of course, Monty Python leaned into this discredited trope brilliantly with their great Scottish poet... all of whose poems are requests for loans!

     
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  13. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Scrooge *McDuck* indeed.

    Uncle Scrooge did come by his dialect legitmately -- he was voiced by Scottish-British-Canadian-American comedian Alan Young (yes, the same guy from "Mr. Ed"), who was well known in the radio era as a specialist in that particular accent.

    We used to have a convenience store over in the next town called "McDuck's," complete with a big cutout logo of Uncle Scrooge on the front of the building to advertise its low gas prices. It was there for almost 30 years, and the Disney people never caught wind of it. Hoot mon.
     
  14. martinsantos

    martinsantos Practically Family

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    Here "Scotch tape" was produced since 40s by Durex (maybe a subsidiary of 3M). The name "fita adesiva Scotch" started to appear in early 50s adds. But everyone since then - today, too - call it Durex. This made some trouble to a preservatives manufacturer with the same name.

    Funny enough "Scotch tape" was for a while the name for 1/4" magnetic audio tape.

    As far as I know Durex for gummed tape is used too is several other places.
     
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  15. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Scotch brand recording tape was a very high quality product for a long time, until they started to cheap it out in the mid-70s. I've recently been working on transferring a number of recordings on Scotch #229 tape from that era, and it's developed enough of a case of sticky-shed syndrome that I have to polish my machine's heads and guides with silicone solution to get the tape thru.

    On the other hand, Scotch brand recording tape from the mid-50s runs with no problems at all other than the usual acetate brittleness from age.
     
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  16. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    I've got three boxes of 7-inch tape reels (mostly Scotch #212), from the days when reel-to-reel tapes were my main collecting medium, which started in 1973, my freshman year in college. I haven't had a working deck in 20 years, and I'm sure these tapes would be in terrible, perhaps unplayable, condition. But I can't just throw them away... even though what I long considered their most essential, special material - dozens of hours of live Grateful Dead recordings - has now been rendered obsolete since nearly every show the Dead ever played is now available free to stream from archive.org!

    Still, I can't throw them away!
     
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  17. martinsantos

    martinsantos Practically Family

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    The tapes I have here are almost all Ampex and Scotch, plus a few Gevaert and Basf. Scotch are very good except the 2400 feet. But these are the newer, maybe mid-80s. The older tapes can be played with no worries. The trouble comes with few Ampex and ALL Maxell: they are no able to stay regular over the heads. Never saved a single Maxell reel, ever those 7-inch, 1200 feet.

     
  18. galopede

    galopede One of the Regulars

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    Don't ask for Durex in the UK expecting Scotch tape, or Sellotape as we call it here.

    Durex is the trade name of the London Rubber Company, Britain's main manufacturer of condoms!

    Gareth
     
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  19. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed Familiar Face

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    This has to be one of the best and most fun (and educational) threads I've come across here! all of you are amazing! I have a whale tail tape dispenser with the usual SCOTCH Cellophane Tape labels on it and have been looking over the variety of scotch cellophane tins available for some time now and this thread was great to back me up in my search for the perfect one! thanks!
     
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  20. Ticklishchap

    Ticklishchap One Too Many

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    I also heard some years ago about a poor chap who was writing a ‘cultural history of Australia’. He was constantly being told: ‘that’s going to be a short book’! Extremely unfair, as we all know. ...
     
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