Tape Dispenser of the Month: 1940s 3M DD-1 Scotch Tape Dispenser

Yeah, it’s been awhile since I did a Stapler of the Month, so what business do I have posting a whole new category, especially one so bereft of popularity as “Tape Dispenser of the Month”? What could possibly have elevated such a humble object to the level of making me decide that I will probably end up having a lot of them?

Well, feast yer peepers:

It’s actually fairly small, but heavier than any other tape dispenser I’ve seen because it’s made of pure cast iron! The thing weighs as much as a brick and has a soft rubber foot all around the bottom edge, so it *stays put* when you pull a strip of tape off it. It’s in excellent shape, nice maroon crinkle paint (now I just need a Maroon SM-3 to match, hear my plea, O Thrift Gods!) and pristine label.

I could tell right off the bat that it was a 1940’s model, just from the general “feel” and the look of the waterslide label, but further research cinched it:

Further research suggests that this model was called the DD-1 (Desk Dispenser 1), made by 3M between about 1938 until it was replaced by the silver C-20 model around 1954. If so, the design was only patented 3 years after it was introduced.

The address and logotype on the waterslide label seems to suggest that this is a late-40’s model, so it’s really in fantastic shape for its age. Not too bad for a buck-fifty! (:

I have to confess, I have a few vintage tape dispensers, so it’s not like this comes out of nowhere. Hopefully, it won’t get as bad as my Stapler collection:

Okay, so I have staplers that match my typewriters. sue me :D

Updated: October 25, 2018 — 10:08 pm


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  1. I don’t recall ever seeing a cast iron tape holder other than the huge ones for packaging tape.

  2. Cool! I snagged a Bear brand tape dispenser a couple of years ago and yeah, it too weighs a tonne. I meant to do a post on it ages ago, but I plumb forgot. As much as I liked its post-War industrial steel look, I gave it a bright yellow paint-job to jazz it up a little. Did the trick.
    Nice one, Rev!

    1. Heh, I declare “Tape Dispenser Month” in the Typosphere – everyone post their favorite tape dispenser! :D

      1. This is one tangent I will pass on. The staplers have assumed control of my desk and refuse to cede territory to upstarts with minimal mechanical qualifications.

  3. Nice! A maroon cast-iron Everest Mod ST would go nicely, but that’d be asking too much of ye gods.

  4. Nice! You just don’t run across these very often.

  5. These big ol’ heavy tape dispensers are terrific when wrapping presents. Love your DD-1 and that maroon color! Usually you find them in mental-institution grey.

    1. Yeah, a lot of people on Facebook had the greenish-grey version. However, when I was researching I found a seller on Ebay who had an unknown number of the maroon ones NOS still in the box, so I can’t imagine it’s a rare color.

      Love your blog, BTW – when my research took me there, I got lost for hours :D

  6. Mr. Munk, any idea where I can find a replacement core for one of these? I love your blog, and thanks for posting the drawing of the DD-1!

    1. I’m pretty sure it’ll take any standard Scotch tape dispenser core. Hit a thrift store and pick up any ugly Scotch tape dispenser that has a core, and steal the core from it (:

      1. That could get ticklish! Yet the world swarms with trash, I agree. I’ll keep my eyes out for someone tossing out an ugly old dispenser, thanks for the suggestion.

    2. Check out Staples online. Theyvused to have these. Edges could be filed dowm if too long. Worth investigating

  7. I have one of these it was my grandmas. She wrote for the Lansing state journel and was the Stlouis mi historian for awhile. I want to use the
    Tape dispenser but it needs new teeth/ or tape cutter
    Not sure what it’s called. Do u have any idea where I could get one
    Please and thank you

    1. Should be the same size as the cutter for any other Scotch dispenser. Take a look and give it a try (:

    2. Try a piece of the “cutter” from a box of tinfoil, or a piece of a hacksaw blade.

  8. I found this but it does not indicate the width. Has the right shape and single screw hold though.


    1. I purchased that one and it’s too big.

      1. not sure why it didn’t work for you. i purchased this part and it is a perfect fit for the DD-1 tape dispenser. Measurements I found indicated it would fit so I ordered, and it appears to be the exact same thing. i ordered it from here -> https://flexoparts.com/tape-dispenser-replacement-blade-1/ but it’s the same part….. replacement teeth for the m73 tape dispenser.

        1. Glad I found this thread. My dispenser appears to be identical to the one featured above. But I’m also confused about the measurements of the replacement blade. Seth, the rusty, dull blade currently mounted to my dispenser measures a little under an inch in length (.925″ by my calipers), but the description in the link you provide says the replacement measures 1.22″ long. That’s a difference of more than a quarter inch. Can you confirm/disconfirm the length of the blade you received?

          1. I have the same tape dispenser and just got the blade that Seth linked – can confirm that it is indeed too wide. however, the hole for the screw is centered and correct on the vertical axis. So I took tin snips and a file, and now the blade fits perfectly. Visually you can kinda tell that its a modified blade, but my goal was getting to keep using my grandmother’s tape dispenser, so its absolutely good enough for me. I’m not sure if she ever replaced the blade from ~1941 to 2023, but it certainly hadn’t been changed in decades and was uselessly dull.

  9. Thank you for this informative post! So fun to see the patent drawings. I just scored the same tape dispenser at an estate sale for $4! Gotta love a tape dispenser that holds still when you’re using it.

  10. Jennings Campbell

    I would love to get the dimensions of the tape drums on the dd1 the diameter and spindle size to see if we have anything to match

    1. I don’t have the original drum. I stole one off a more recent dispenser. it fit. (:

  11. I have one of these! I am restoring it some (really just cleaning and painting) With drum!! Going with red and some black accents I believe. really cool, I was not sure of the year this was produced, thanks for info!

  12. I was lucky enough to find one of these. However, the blade needs to be replaced.
    Do you have any suggestions where I can get one?
    Thank you.

  13. Where do I find replacement cutters for these?

  14. I bought one of these “whale” tape dispensers at an estate sale
    today for $3. Very happy to learn of its history. Thanks for doing
    the research.

  15. I found the green whale and redid it for the wife. Even found the cutting blade to replace. Looks so much better on her desk at work than those cheap replaceable dispensers. I paint hers a glitter red…

    1. Where did you source the replacement blade?

  16. Just found this site and a photo of the dispenser. For some reason I had no luck on the patent search but this definitely is the same dispenser that I have. It weighs a ton. I thought it might have been made from depleted Uranium because it weighed so much. Glad to hear it is only cast iron!

  17. I don’t have date ranges or any other information, really, but there is an earlier variant of this 3M dispenser that weighs, if you can believe it, over a pound more. Its base is not open but solid with cast iron, and the effect is like some sort of illusion when you ask someone to pick it up — it’s so unexpectedly heavy. You can spot the older variant immediately because the slot that accepts the tape spool is further back on the dispenser: 3.5 inches from the cutting blade rather than 3 inches away. (I realize it might be sacrilege to some, but I repainted my dispenser in satin hunter green.)

    1. Yep, I’ve seen a couple variations, including one about twice the size of mine, which takes a larger tape roll. Wouldn’t be surprised to see several different models. (:

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