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Corrugated Cartons: A brief History

Today we take for granted the fact that one can simply run to a grocery store, or a hardware store to pick up a couple of boxes for moving. We can order dozens of custom made corrugated cartons for low prices and our shipping boxes rarely cost more than a couple of dollars. This sense of ease for shipping has not always been a reality.

Before the 1850’s, it was necessary to package anything that was to be shipped anywhere into hand crafted wooden crates. These crates cost a lot to build and were not necessarily custom to the items that you were shipping. Being in crates that did not protect them from shipping hazards damaged many items.

The corrugated cartons that we are now familiar with got their start in New York City when Albert Jones patented them. Although originally used in England to protect hats inside of hatboxes, they were first used for shipping bottles and lanterns in 1871. In 1890, corrugated cardboard got a boost from Robert Gair, who discovered that by adding two sheets of flat board on either side of the fluted center paper, the strength of the box increased.

This discovery allowed for corrugated cartons to become the benchmark for shipping containers and lead to an enormous boom in shipping across the globe. We might even go as far as to say that the invention of corrugated cartons revolutionized the world of enterprise for North America, the United Kingdom and the globe.

Today, we are able to make boxes using machines that are capable of cranking out cardboard at a rate of over 500 lineal feet per minute. We can add logo designs, create large volume boxes and transport large and small items without so much as a second thought.

The technology required to create a corrugated cardboard box doesn’t seem like something that would be complicated, folding paper and gluing it between two flat sheets of board. The invention took thousands of years to master, but when it was finally a reality it became a massive catalyst for the world of commerce.

Today, through the use of corrugated cartons, many businesses are able to safely ship a wide number of products in a safe, secure and cost effective manner. Cardboard is also recyclable, making it a great option for companies that are currently “green” or in the process of going “green”.


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