Have you ever looked at a lanyard and wonder about its origins and who used the first lanyards? You probably see those on a daily basis, maybe even have one or several yourself, and this is exactly why few people inquire on the history of lanyards. They’re common items, yet they do not sprung out from contemporary times, hence their origin makes them a little bit more interesting. Here’s why:
The word “lanyard” as you know it is derived from the French term “laniere”, and dates back to the fifteenth century. It means thong or strap, and it was firstly used by sailors to carry various objects whilst being on deck. Their lanyards were commonly attached to whistles, or weapons like knives and pistols, but the uses of lanyards didn’t stop there. They were also used on ships to secure or tighten the system of chains and ropes that were holding the sails and masts in control. Steering away from sailing vessels and back towards our lanyards, the main purpose of the latter was same as today: to decrease the risk of losing an item by making sure it was attached and visible at all times.
Connected to lanyards’ previous glory is also the fact that some of these items consisted of a length of wire or cord, and ended with a hook in order to arm the fuze mechanism of a bomb by handling the cotter pin. Firing artillery pieces was also a belligerent activity that involved the use of lanyards.
Not only naval officers used lanyards to connect weapons to their uniform, but also cavalry. Soldiers also had lanyards attached to their pistols, to keep those in handy at all times. Cavalry could thus carry their pistols using a lanyard whether the weapon was drawn or still in the holster. Later though, as ages progressed, lanyards were turned into decorative items, embellishing the shoulders of military uniforms to illustrate the person’s rank or regiment.
Today’s lanyards though have several purposes, from being mere adornments, to serving for advertising and marketing purposes, or most frequently, to hold and secure various items such as badges, keys or cellphones.
Modern lanyards are made from different basic materials like braided fabric, cotton, rubber or plastic. These are commonly seen within companies or formal institutions, worn by people needing to hold and display their ID cards or badges. Most of these lanyards are often customized with the logo or name of the company, also serving as a successful promotional tool.
There are all sorts of items that can be secured using a lanyard. Aside the above-mentioned keys, ID badges and cellphones, also think bottle openers, whistles, eyeglasses or cutters. Lanyards are available in an overwhelming array of designs, colors and materials, from the most ordinary to lanyards that have an element of surprise, be it a funny slogan or fluorescent properties.
Lanyards can be attached to pockets, zippers or backpacks, or worn around your neck or wrist.
So you see, even though lanyards evolved during the years, they haven’t lost their functionality. They serve as ways to secure small belongings, as promotional tools or as casual/clubbing decorative items.