The man who traded a paperclip for a house

July 8, 2006

Kyle Macdonald has finally managed to trade his way from a single red paperclip:

Red Paperclip

to a three-bedroomed house in Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada in just one year and 14 trades:

Paperclip House

You can read the full story on Kyle’s blog (via Boingboing).

I remember hearing about this back when he was up to a white van, and to be honest I was impressed that he’d got that far. Of course, it might be just as well to gloss over the fact that he somehow managed to get from that van to a KISS snow globe on the way to the house (who knew the “Knights In Satan’s Service” even endorsed snow globes?). Fortunately for Kyle, he met someone who happened to be a dedicated snow globe collector — and also a kind of famous actor. But taking this kind of risk is what the whole project was all about: relative value. Kyle sums it up like this:

“What’s more important to a man dying of thirst in the desert – one million dollars or a glass of water? So all I gotta do now is find somebody who needs a “drink”. (The KISS snowglobe is filled with water – well, a water-ish substance, at least.) What I’m trying to say here is that I strongly believe that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

What I like about this story is that it neatly illustrates how just a catchy idea and the internet — plus a canny head for handling press and publicity — can lead to fame, fortune and a damn good yarn.

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