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A spindle (or colloquially, a spike) was a device used to hold papers waiting for processing. The device used was utilized by placing a document on the spindle, this act being called "spindling" or "spiking." Early Hollerith cards bore the inscription, "do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate," with spindling in particular being almost sure to lead to the Hollerith card's being misread.

Spindling served the twin purposes of accumulating paperwork in a way that would not permit it to be blown about by the summer breeze common prior to the advent of air conditioning, along with the hole made by the spindle being indicative of some sort of processing when the paperwork is viewed subsequently.

OSHA-compliant safety spindles, with the last 1/2 inch or so bent at a 90° angle to reduce the likelihood of injury, have been available for some time. Many early spindles have bases that are quite decorative.

The spindle also makes an appearance in a short at the beginning of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail where a room full of chartered accountants are transformed into pirates.

Another colloquialism arising from the use of this device was "spiking," which meant a de facto killing of a controversial newspaper article.