One red paperclip is a website created by Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald, who bartered his way from a single red paperclip to a house in a series of fourteen online trades over the course of a year. MacDonald was inspired by the childhood game Bigger, Better. His site received a considerable amount of notice for tracking the transactions. “A lot of people have been asking how I’ve stirred up so much publicity around the project, and my simple answer is: ‘I have no idea‘“, he told the BBC.
MacDonald made his first trade, a red paper clip for a fish-shaped pen, on July 14, 2005. He reached his goal of trading up to a house with the fourteenth transaction, trading a movie role for a house. This is the list of all transactions MacDonald made:
- On July 14, 2005, he went to Vancouver and traded the paperclip for a fish-shaped pen.
- He then traded the pen the same day for a hand-sculpted doorknob from Seattle, Washington.
- On July 25, 2005, he travelled to Amherst, Massachusetts, with a friend to trade the doorknob for a Coleman camp stove (with fuel).
- On September 24, 2005, he went to California, and traded the camp stove for a Honda generator.
- On November 16, 2005, he traveled to Maspeth, Queens and traded the generator for an “instant party”: an empty keg, an IOU for filling the keg with the beer of the bearer’s choice, and a neon Budweiser sign. This was his second attempt to make the trade; his first resulted in the generator being temporarily confiscated by the New York City Fire Department.
- On December 8, 2005, he traded the “instant party” to Quebec comedian and radio personality Michel Barrette for a Ski-Doo snowmobile.
- Within a week of that, he traded the snowmobile for a two-person trip to Yahk, British Columbia, scheduled for February 2006.
- On or about January 7, 2006, he traded the second spot on the Yahk trip for a box truck.
- On or about February 22, 2006, he traded the box truck for a recording contract with Metalworks in Mississauga, Ontario.
- On or about April 11, 2006, he traded the contract to Jody Gnant for a year’s rent in Phoenix, Arizona.
- On or about April 26, 2006, he traded the year’s rent in Phoenix for one afternoon with Alice Cooper.
- On or about May 26, 2006, he traded the afternoon with Cooper for a KISS motorized snow globe.
- On or about June 2, 2006, he traded the snow globe to Corbin Bernsen for a role in the film Donna on Demand.
- On or about July 5, 2006, he traded the movie role for a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan.
- Straw Millionaire
- Gudbrand on the Hill-side, a Norwegian folk tale about the reverse situation: A man makes a series of ever-worse trades.
- Hans in Luck, a fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm, similarly in reverse situation: paid his seven years’ wages in a single lump of gold the size of his head, a man tires of carrying it and trades it for a horse in the first of a series of down-trades. However, with each trade, and at the end, he is happy to be free of his burdens and considers himself fortunate.