Stapler of The Week: The Aceliner

IMG_7070The Ace Aceliner, a true classic. Probably the first stapler I actually sought out after seeing them on other Typosphere blogs. It’s a popular design, easy to get ahold of, and there’s probably one in every casual stapler collector’s corral.
IMG_7310There are at least two different variations, probably indicating a change in design and tooling to cut costs. If anyone knew when this design change occurred, you could probably better tell when a given stapler was made, at least within a decade or so.
IMG_7311I’m pretty sure the scalloped-edge version with the “Aceliner” embossing on the top is the older design, but how much older is unknown [NEWER design]. I’ve read somewhere that the Aceliner wasn’t introduced until the 1970’s despite it’s mid-century styling. I do believe that the rounded, unembossed version is the style you can still buy brand-new from Ace. EDIT: Research by American Stationer confirms that the round-top ones are the older design, starting in 1941. The scalloped-edge version with “aceliner” embossed on top came onto the market starting around 1975.IMG_7312The Aceliner is a tail-loader like most other Ace staplers. You pull out the “tail” and it folds up to allow loading.
IMG_7313The Aceliner is a remarkably ergonomic machine. It fits perfectly in the hand, and opens up all the way for tacking. In fact it’ll open up to about 20 degrees past flat.
IMG_7314A comparison of the two designs shows other visible differences between the older and newer styles: Newer versions have grey rubber feet, older versions have black plastic feet. IMG_7318The newer version includes the brand “ACE” stamped into the front, while the older version lacks this detail.IMG_7319Different types of rivets are used  for the pivot bar…IMG_7320IMG_7321Otherwise, they appear to be identical. Both styles work great, and there is no functional difference between the two. Both produce either Interfold or Exterfold staples via the sliding anvil.IMG_7043It should be said that the Aceliner, although svelte, is a heavy stapler. Solid steel, thickly forged. If I were in sudden need of a weapon and all I had to choose from were the staplers on my desk, I’d grab the Aceliner. The shaped pommels make it easy to grip, so it won’t slip out of your hand in the heat of battle, and I’d bet that the unfortunate assailant you socked with an Aceliner would be none too pleased with the sound of his skull caving in.  In fact, my older Aceliner has clearly spent part of it’s previous life as an improvised hammer, as the deep gouges on the bottom plate would attest. Someone gave it a pretty good beating, and the Aceliner shrugged it off and kept working, like a stapler should.

Collectable? maybe.
Attractive? Hells yes!
Durable: Like a Rock.
Should you get one if you see one at a thrift? Ayup! (:

Updated: March 2, 2020 — 9:40 am


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  1. Ones to look out for. I prefer the older scalloped version.

  2. I love mine.

    There’s also an Ace staple remover which is a nice little tool.

    1. Richard, I remember seeing your Ace on your desk.

  3. Peculiar phenomena that sometimes the newer iteration improves on the old design, though it bastardizes the original, thereby making the advancement a step off the initial path and therefore a whole lot less of what it once was.
    Bullshit financial decisions.
    Keep what people love, what made the thing remarkable.
    The older model all the way!

    1. They are a classic. totally agree. No changes necessary.

  4. Funny I never see staplers in my local thrifts. That’s a nice one though.

  5. I have one of these at work (the model with the scalloped sides and embossed top), and for some reason, after running out of staples and reloading, I can’t get the thing to work anymore. The staples are ACE brand, but they slide in an out very easily, so I would think they’re the correct size. Can anyone suggest what the problem might be? Thanks in advance for any help.

    1. Correction: I meant to say the staples are NOT ACE brand. I don’t know if the ones in there previously were ACE brand; I would guess not, since I don’t think our purchasing department has been making an effort to stock staples specific to one particular brand.

    2. Well, I suppose it could be the particular batch of staples you’re using, but the Aceliner should feed modern “standard” sized staples. I generally use a generic box of of them for testing, and they’ve worked fine in my Aceliners.

    3. I had the same problem until I moved the base plate under the staple dispenser to line up with the staple coming down. Pull the base plate to the front.

  6. My first job in an office out of high school – late 70s-early 80s – I used one of these and had to have one for my very own. I hate the ubiquitous cheap Swinglines found most everywhere; they never work right and they hurt my hands. My trusty Aceliner has been with me for about 36 years! Alas, I’ve had to move suddenly and it has gone missing in the chaos of packing. I pray I am reunited with it soon. It’s comforting to know it has a following and that if my worst fear proves true and it really is lost for good, I will be able to locate a worthy successor at least.

  7. Hey, I just bought one of these at an estate sale simply because it looked different. Alas, there were no staples in it and apparently the ACE 2025 staples it requires stopped being made in 2010. How do I go about finding staples for this thing?

    1. it takes regular standard staples too. they work fine (:

    2. I just changed jobs after 18 years and left my trusty aceliner behind. After a month on the new job, dealing with a crappy Chinese bostitch, I found a replacement aceliner on eBay in perfect condition for $20. I am elated! Good luck.

  8. I have an Ace Liner Stapler Model # 502 it says the staple refill # is 2025. I cannot find these staples. I looked at Office Depot and Walmart,the ones they had did not fit. I also looked on line at Staples, no luck. Do you know of another refill staple number that is comparable?

    1. I’ve had mine for 32 years and have NEVER used the Ace liner staples!! Any standard staple will work.

    2. Standard staples fit. They truly do. You just have to load it differently than a regular stapler. There’s a pic here that shows the tail pulled out. You pull that out, slide the staples in, slide the tail back in, and voila!

      1. Wow thanks for posting normal staples fit! I just found my stapler and was looking for right staples but no luck! I tried your method and they fit just like you said…that’s awesome thank you!!!

  9. Thanks for this thread! I found my late mom’s old Aceliner and thought it was top loading. None of my standard staples would fit that way and I was trying to order specific ones online ’til I saw this post. Now I remember that its ‘tail loading’!! The standard ones fit just fine. I also didn’t remember that the plate is movable to choose if the staple folds outward or inward… Thanks!

    1. Thanks for so much for your comment about this stapler being “tail loading.” I was thrilled to add a “new,” older style Aceliner to my counselling office in Victoria, BC. That is, until it ran out of staples.

      I couldn’t figure out how to load standard staples in the top. And then I also found that I couldn’t find any “Ace no 2025” staples anywhere. I am really pleased to find out that standard staples fit in the tail! AND they work perfectly!! I’m in business again. :)

  10. Here’s a question. Where do you buy staples for one? The standard staples don’t fit.

    1. I recently purchased an old ace liner 502 on Ebay and was annoyed to find that the 2025 staples are apparently no longer made. I tried standard staples but they wouldn’t work…at least until I finally figured out how the loading process actually works… You definitely can not drop the staples in from the top…too wide for the tray.

      The staples go in at the back, much lower than I was trying to load them. The staples do NOT go over the top of the long spring thing. They basically hug the three little metal plates at the back and the long spring thing that pulls out of the rear catches the rear of the staples and applies pressure to keep the staples towards the front. I am using standard staples (swing line SF-1 sharp point) and after a few test staples, seem to work just fine. I’m glad I didn’t give up and throw away a very nice, quality stapler!!

      1. RHETT,
        THANK YOU. Your explanation for how to LOAD REGULAR STAPLES into the SWINGLINE 502 was the one that worked for me. After reviewing your LOADING INSTRUCTIONS, I realized that the first thing I needed to do differently, was to OPEN THE STAPLER BACK FARTHER THAN I HAD DONE AT FIRST, (so that the pull-out spring thing could fall farther out and be out of the way for loading my STANDARD SWINGLINE STAPLES). WHEW,THANKS!

  11. Just found an early version of the Aceliner (scalloped edge, ACE imprint, hollow point pivot rivet) buried in my warehouse. Was paniced about the staples until i read on and found your comment Rhett. Now I have the best stapler in the building…everyone can mash their fingers on the cheezy imports. Mine binds the paper with it’s two distinguished ‘clipping’ sounds.
    Think I deserve a Rolex after this.

  12. I work for a Human Services Department in NY, and when I started 17 years ago I brought my Ace Liner 502 with me. My Grandmother had given it to me when I was a young girl. I do not let it out of my sight, and nobody is allowed to use it. I have it marked as my personal property as well so nobody mistakes it as County Property. IIt has stood the test of time. I use about 100 staples a day and it still works like a champ. I love it.

    1. any chance you could email diagrammatic instruction(s) on “how to” load staples in them? also, can we use “standard” staples?

      thanks; my email: “”

  13. After properly reloading (I still have some Aceliner staples), my treasured stapler
    won’t work. After reading your blog, I notice the anvil plate is not moving. Didn’t know it was supposed to; never noticed it before. In all other respects it appears authentic.
    Any advice?

  14. I LOVE YOU RHETT!!! completely saved the day, possibly the entire year of 2017!!! Many many thanks!!

    1. Sounds like I have a sorry life but my New Years resolution was to get staples for my aceliner!! I bought it for $2 at a thrift store. I purchased it simply because it is beautiful I have spent months trying to get the the correct staples,never knowing it was rwar loading ! Loaded it just now with regular ol’ staples. It works !!! It works with beauty ,smoothness and precision ! Poetry in motion !! Thank you ! Thank you ! Thank you !

  15. Thank you for all the good information on the ACE 502. I was given 2 of these but I thought it needed a more narrow staple although it did not appear that way by the width of the groove where they get bent over.

    A STANDARD staple truly does fit if loaded properly.

  16. I have two ACE 502 Aceliners from the late 1960’s that were my mother’s and are in great condition. I finally am close to running out of the Aceliner staples. I tried standard staples and as others have stated, they do work. However, the stapling process is not as smooth as when using the actual Aceliner staples. I have compared them side by side. The Aceliner staples can be purchased at but they are about 2x as expensive as Swingline standard staples and you have to purchase a minimum of two boxes at $5.00 per box. Plus shipping is expensive at $8.00.

  17. where do you get the 2025 staples?

    1. I saw some on ebay, but dithered and they were sold to someone else. Then I read everything above here and realized that I was trying to load the ACE 502 the same way I would load a Swingline, rather than the way I would load a heavy-duty tacker.

      At the rear of the stapler, push in on the round end of the spring unit and lift up to disengage it from the staple channel. Now withdrawn it to its limit. Ah! Unlike my tacker, it does not come all the way out, but – at its limit – it will tilt up far enough to allow standard staples to be inserted.

      After you have a few staples inserted and the spring re-engaged, open the stapler the way you would a standard Swingline. Note that the corners of the staples are covered by rails which prevents them from being inserted from the top. That’s why it ~looks~ like you need narrow staples. That’s also why ACE stopped making the 72025 staple – standard size works fine.

  18. Owned with heavy use since 1979.
    Excells in every way. Time for a new box of staples.

  19. Found one today at the good will for 3.99
    Marbled green I think Bakelite

  20. I’ve had my Ace 502 since I started teaching in 1969. Ran out of staples a few years ago and thought I was out of luck getting staples. Was looking on line and read these comments. Went to office max and bought the swingline 4 premium staples and it works perfect. Thanks

  21. I recovered one of these in the early 2000’s when cleaning out an old physics lab, as my artist/machinist friend collects old and interesting scientific apparatus. I got the stapler, one of the newer design in the green plastic, for my wife and we love it but it eventually ran out of staples. My wife had tried to find staples to no avail and I recently looked as well. But finally I googled enough to find this page, which I ended up reading aloud over dinner. Lo and behold, this thread led us to look again at the stapler and, holy mackerel, when you follow the instructions above you can load standard stables, of which we have a huge box! My wife was furious she hadn’t figured this out before but she’s like that, and I advise her instead, to celebrate such triumphs as you find them as it’s better for mental health.

    Anyway, a bit of engineering clarification as I don’t think the explanations above are completely clear: Inside the top load area of this stapler there are a couple of rails that make it too narrow to load regular stables. The key is, you tail-load it by pulling the plunger all the way out and pivoting it upward, as has been noted, and then the staples go UNDER THE RAILS in the main channel. It’s actually a brilliant design as it holds the staples better than a regular top loader which may make it more reliable in the long run since staples can not be pulled up if they were to jam.

  22. Thanks for this. I echo those who were trying to find original staples and am delighted that loading it properly allows use of standard staples. I wonder if you will explain what the purpose of the sliding anvil is? I was fascinated by the staples turned wrong side up and then remembered to move the anvil, but why does it?

    1. different staple clinching styles. when it splays both the legs of the staple outwards, that’s a “Pin”, and it’s easier to take out. intended to be temporary fastener.

  23. I have had mine for 20+ years. I love it! Got it when you could buy them in different colors and bases. It works great, and staples more than the average # of sheets. I don’t even take it to work any more for fear it will walk off.

  24. Thank you so much for including the information on in-fold and out-fold by moving the anvil. Just picked up a scalloped version at a tag sale for $1.00 and was going to return it because I didn’t understand the out-fold issue and thought it was broken. Yep, older IS better.

  25. Thank you ever so much for posted comments. Was on the verge of chucking the AceLiner in the trash because my staples did not fit and Office Depot had no 2025 staples and couldn’t find them online. Googled and then read all the comments down to where it said how to load regular staples. Thanks again! LH

  26. I have almost cussed and that is not nice, My ACE Liner belonged to my husband in 50 years of banking. Like everyone else I have spent days trying to find staples. Today is the YaHoo day. Bottom load of regular staples works. I can now use the stapler and think of my husband who is properly looking down and smiling. Thanks to all!!!!

  27. Hi everyone I have one of these classic 502’s and the back spring release is jammed I looked inside and there a bunch of staples holding every thing up. Any tips on getting them out and how do you then release/pull out the spring tentioner?


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