Unless you’re involved in the industry, barbed wire is something that we tend to take for granted. We have seen it all our lives and probably never give it a moment’s thought.
Yet there is more to it than we realize.
Invented in the 1860s
The use of wire fencing to restrain animals began in the 1860s when production on a large scale became practical. At about the same time ideas for design were being floated in France and in New York City. In 1867 alone, the patent office granted 6 patents for different barbed wire types.
Originally To Control Animals
The original use was the control of animals and livestock, but people were quick to see there were all sorts of other uses.
In only took until the 1890s before barbed wire was deployed as a way of preventing movement in war. It was used in the Spanish-American War, but is iconic as the last defense of the trenches in World War I. There it was so common and effective it came to part of the songs the soldiers used to keep up their spirits
Security barbed wire made its debut as a highly effective way of keeping people inside an area in concentration camps. In the Second World War barbed wire fencing was often electrified as another level of deterrent.
The type of fence which controls animals would not control humans and so the humble barbed wire was developed into razor wire. No one would want to take that on.
You probably knew barbed wire can cause horrible injuries. What you might not know is that Norway deplored the injuries and turned from barbed wire to electric fences. Today Rolls Royce uses Norwegian hides since they have fewer scratches.