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MonFeb 20

National Handcuff Day – February 20, 2023

National Handcuff Day is celebrated on February 20 every year because it was on this very day that George A. Carney was given a patent number in the U.S. for his “lightweight and adjustable swinging bow ratchet-type handcuff”, according to Carney. The handcuffs in question were developed in the year 1912 and had a design that was comparatively more comfortable than the previous handcuffs that were developed. These handcuffs are now used when arresting criminals, or when the need to detain someone arises. On this day, start celebrating in order to pay a tribute to the great American innovators that have changed life as we know it.

History of National Handcuff Day

While the handcuffs we see today are different, the idea to use an object to restrain someone has existed since ancient Greek times. The creation of restraints has in fact been spotted in Greek mythology. Other mentions of restraining devices date back to the fourth century B.C. where Carthaginian armies used them to hold prisoners of war. However, like other inventions, handcuffs also evolved over time and were created out of several materials before they reached the most efficient design.

In 1780, Hiatt Handcuff became the first company to manufacture the cuffs, but it wasn’t until 1850 that different styles of handcuffs were formulated. This is because incidents of crime had increased and the need for restraints escalated. At that point in time, there were two handcuffs – the ‘Bango handcuffs’ and the ‘flexible handcuffs.’ The Bango handcuffs didn’t allow prisoners any movement, whereas the flexible ones allowed prisoners to slightly move and perform necessary movements such as eating and drinking water.

In the late 19th century, the ‘Snap’ became the most popular handcuff since it could actually ‘snap’ onto the wrists of the criminals or suspects. Then came the ‘Twister’, which was compact and could easily be carried. The first popular adjustable handcuffs were produced by Tower, and were able to provide sustainability and security. These cuffs were created by John J. Tower in 1865 and included a series of handcuffs built under license. Tower applied for his first patent in 1871 to cover the round or oval bow he invented.

National Handcuff Day timeline

500 A.D.
The New Design

Shackles in Europe have a hinged design that close near the wrist.

1800s
Start Adjusting

Adjustable wrist bars are invented.

1862
Going Light

W.V. Adams develops adjustable and lighter handcuffs.

1912
Making a Mark

George Carney is granted patent number 1,017,955 for adjustable, ratcheting handcuffs.

National Handcuff Day FAQs

What does it mean to handcuff someone?

Handcuffing is a device that goes around one’s wrists and restricts their movement.

What is a handcuff for a prisoner called?

Prisoners often wear leg cuffs and handcuffs so their movement is restricted.

What does ‘manacle’ mean in English?

A manacle is a shackle that goes around the wrist to restrain someone.

National Handcuff Day Activities

  1. Read up on the history

    Use this day to find out all that you can about the history of handcuffs. Who knows, you may end up creating a version of your own.

  2. Watch a documentary

    Watch a documentary that gives insight on how handcuffs were created and all the material that is used for them.

  3. Buy some plastic handcuffs

    Have some fun and buy plastic handcuffs to celebrate the day. You can buy ones in different colors and have a handcuff-themed tea party. You can also play the game of “cops and robbers” and use your handcuffs.

5 Fun Facts About Handcuffs

  1. Rules in Japan

    In Japan, the hands of an arrested prisoner wearing handcuffs have to be blurred before being shown on T.V.

  2. The teaching methods in the U.S.

    The police teach recruits to apply the cuffs with the subject's palms facing outward.

  3. Style of handcuffing

    Before the 1960s, criminals when arrested were generally handcuffed with their arms in front.

  4. ‘Golden handcuffs’

    The term refers to work benefits that make it difficult for an employee to leave.

  5. Meaning of handcuff in 1591

    It referred to a decorative band at the end of the sleeves. 

Why We Love National Handcuff Day

  1. It talks about the importance of handcuffs

    The day defines the importance of handcuffs and how they evolved the way prisoners were dealt with by the police.

  2. It narrates the history

    The day narrates the history of handcuffs and how they developed and changed over time. This is essential since it highlights the use of technology in developing everyday objects.

  3. It gives credit to the inventors

    The day plays an important role in giving credit to the inventors who created the handcuff that is used almost every day to maintain law and order.

National Handcuff Day dates

YearDateDay
2023February 20Monday
2024February 20Tuesday
2025February 20Thursday
2026February 20Friday
2027February 20Saturday

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