How to Trade a Paperclip for a House

How to Trade a Paperclip for a House

Most people would look at a paperclip and see something of very little value. And they would be right. After all, how much is a paperclip worthy, anyway? A few cents, maybe. However, to one Canadian blogger, it turned out to be worth an entire new house.


Photo Credit: OisinisiO via Wiki Commons

How is this possible? Well, if you haven’t heard the story of the red paperclip, it’s true. Kyle MacDonald started off with just one regular red paperclip and ended up with a new home. He did this through a series of trades with each new item being slightly more valuable than the last. Using this method, it only took Kyle one year and fourteen trades to go from paperclip to house.

Now before you go buying a year’s supply of paperclips, thinking you are going to become a real estate tycoon, now that Kyle also received a lot of help from the media. His story was so interesting and unique that it got covered a lot and this really helped him secure some of the later, high-value trades, most of them coming from celebrities who wanted to get in on the action.

If you want, you can relive the entire saga at Kyle’s website which has received over 10 million visits ever since it started in 2005. You can also see exactly which items got traded for which. A few of the highlights include the trade that started it all – a red paperclip in exchange for a novelty pen shaped like a fish. Kyle had to travel all the way to Vancouver for that trade, but it ended up paying off in the end. Towards the later trades, Kyle actually managed to secure an afternoon with rock legend Alice Cooper which he got in exchange for a year’s rent in Phoenix, Arizona. In a move which many of his fans deemed foolish, Kyle traded away that afternoon for a special motorized KISS snow globe.


Corbin Bernsen, snow globe enthusiast. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wiki Commons

This might have seemed like a bad trade, but Kyle then traded it to actor and director Corbin Bernsen. Bernsen wanted the globe so bad that he actually offered a speaking role in the movie Donna on Demand for it. Finally we arrive at the last trade. The big one – a small city called Kipling in Saskatchewan offered a house in exchange for the role. The town actually held auditions to decide which lucky member of the community would get to be in the movie. The winner was Nolan Hubbard who went on to play Ned/Prime8.

Bonus Fact:

Kyle’s epic paperclip saga is very reminiscent of an old Japanese folk tale called the Straw Millionaire. In the story, a peasant starts off with a single piece of straw and through a succession of trades, ends up marrying a millionaire’s daughter.



Feature image courtesy of Katherine Johnson.