It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property. It is also a feature of the fortifications in trench warfare. A person or animal trying to pass through or over barbed wire will suffer discomfort, Barbed wire fencing requires only fence posts, wire, and fixing devices such as staples. It is simple to construct and quick to erect, even by an unskilled person, the first patent in the United States for barbed wire was issued in 1867 to Lucien B. Smith of Kent, Ohio, who is regarded as the inventor. Joseph F. Glidden of DeKalb, Illinois, received a patent for the invention in 1874 after he made his own modifications to previous versions. Barbed wire was the first wire technology capable of restraining cattle, Wire fences were cheaper and easier to erect than their alternatives. When wire fences became widely available in the United States in the late 19th century and they made intensive animal husbandry practical on a much larger scale. Englishman Richard Newton brought barbed wire to the Argentine pampas in 1845, fencing consisting of flat and thin wire was first proposed in France, by Leonce Eugene Grassin-Baledans in 1860. His design consisted of bristling points, creating a fence that was painful to cross, in April 1865 Louis François Janin proposed a double wire with diamond-shaped metal barbs, he was granted a patent. Michael Kelly from New York had a idea, and proposed that the fencing should be used specifically for deterring animals. More patents followed, and in 1867 alone there were six patents issued for barbed wire, only two of them addressed livestock deterrence, one of which was from American Lucien B. Smith of Ohio. Before 1870, westward movement in the USA was largely across the plains with little or no settlement occurring, after the American Civil War the plains were extensively settled, consolidating Americas dominance over them. Ranchers moved out on the plains, and needed to fence their land in against encroaching farmers, the railroads throughout the growing West needed to keep livestock off their tracks, and farmers needed to keep stray cattle from trampling their crops. A cost-effective alternative was needed to make cattle operations profitable, the Big Four in barbed wire were Joseph Glidden, Jacob Haish, Charles Francis Washburn, and Isaac L. Ellwood. Glidden, a farmer in 1873 and the first of the Big Four, is credited for designing a successful sturdy barbed wire product. Gliddens idea came from a display at a fair in DeKalb, Illinois in 1873, Rose had patented The Wooden Strip with Metallic Points in May 1873. This was simply a wooden block with wire protrusions designed to keep cows from breaching the fence and that day, Glidden was accompanied by two other men, Isaac L. Ellwood, a hardware dealer and Jacob Haish, a lumber merchant. Like Glidden, they wanted to create a more durable wire fence with fixed barbs
A close-up view of a barbed wire
Roll of modern agricultural barbed wire
An early handmade specimen of Glidden's "The Winner" on display at the Barbed Wire History Museum in DeKalb, Illinois.