I liked the idea of telling the story of mundane objects: in this case, the paper clip, the staple, and the push pin. Where did they come from? Who invented them? I was given a choice: just the facts, or make it all up. So naturally I made it all up. I had a blast with this assignment and I am grateful for the folks who run the Early Office Museum. In short, if Crate & Barrel or Williams-Sonoma ever decided to branch out into office supplies, I would like to think the packaging would look something like this.
I liked the idea of a fancy company which brought to mind old-school images of factories and smokestacks... all for the production of something as simple as a staple.
 
NPAA stands for "National Paper Aggregation Administration." It's not a real agency; I took inspiration from the ADA logo on your toothbrush and, while I'm certainly no fan of bureaucracy, I like the idea of a government agency tasked with monitoring... office supplies.

Excerpted from my fictional history (complete with mangled French and a Marx Brothers reference):
 
The early age of office supplies, specifically paper aggregation technology, was a tumultuous one indeed. The very first “le papier c’lippe” was invented in France in the mid-18th century. Unfortunately its success was short-lived after a routine Customs inspection revealed that the clips slowly disintegrated after prolonged exposure to oxygen—a design flaw of the highest order.
 
This led a group of clerical workers to meet in Washington DC to establish the U.S. Officium, a compendium of standards relating to government office procedures, specifically procurement of paper aggregating supplies. President Lincoln appointed Geoffrey T. Spaulding as the first Secretary of Clerks (not to be confused with the Clerk of the Secretaries). Spaulding would soon find himself serving in the Bureau of Offices. This organization was later reorganized into the National Paper Aggregation Administration after President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Milton Act in June, 1906. The Administration still exists today, under the Department of Commerce. It’s responsible for promoting uniformity of all paper aggregating standards and any laws and regulations pertaining thereto.
Each part of the paper clip, push pin, and staple has a name and a definition, which are explained in the enclosed booklets.
As you can see above, the names are fictional. Sidwich and Murgatroyd are references to Preston Sturges' 1941 film The Lady Eve, while Stappël... well, I thought it'd be funny if the staple were actually named after someone. The law firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe was an old joke when my grandparents were kids.
 
I also decided to feature portraits of the creators on the packaging. They're friends of mine Photoshopped on to other bodies (Presidents Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, respectively)... or, as seen below, blended into a painting (of early computer pioneer Ada Lovelace).
Each tin includes a booklet with a short bio and a guide to technical terms. The terms come from Star Trek (notably the TNG episode "Rascals" in which a character makes up "fake" technobabble)... and a fictional device known as the "Turboencabulator," an inside joke among engineers in the mid-20th century.
The bottom label on the tin. I created the "Made in the USA" logo and the phone number is a reference to a Wilson Pickett song.