Scissors and shears encompass all hand-held, double-bladed tools used for cutting. The larger varieties are typically referred to as shears. Among the earliest scissors were heavy, spring-blade devices made from a single piece of metal, resembling modern sheep shears. The more familiar cross-blade design with a central pivot point developed during the Roman Empire, around AD 100.

Before the 19th century, most scissors were hand-forged from iron. However, by 1830, toolmakers in the steel-producing region around Sheffield, England, were creating high-quality scissors for specific uses such as embroidery and buttonhole cutting. These tools were individually tailored depending on their use. For example, pinking shears made with notched blades to finish fabric with a wavy cut so it wouldn't fray.

General sewing scissors were produced with short thin blades, one sharp and one dull. Distinctive gold-plated handles shaped like owls, chickens, or storks were first applied to sewing scissors by John Rogers & Sons and Thomas Wilkinson & Sons, both of Sheffield. As more specialized snips were marketed for home use, French companies experimented with a variety of ornate handle designs and materials like mother-of-pearl and bone. Stylish scissors became a popular and affordable present, with pairs sent as courtship gifts or designed as keepsakes commemorating important events.

During the Victorian era, scissors were decorated with intricately carved designs on their gilded or sterling-silver handles, and were typically sold in protective fabric, leather, or metal sheaths. In contrast, Chinese scissors became known for their simpler form, with short pointed blades and wide handles forming the two halves of a circle to accommodate multiple fingers. Traditionally used to cut fruit from the vine, grape scissors also became fashionable, and were frequently sold in dessert sets with nutcrackers and picks.

Scissors modified specifically for hairdressing were first made during the late 19th century, incorporating single-finger handles, finely-tapered blades, and a handle spur to aid with precision cutting. Barber’s “fringe” scissors were later introduced with one straight and one serrated blade to catch a customer’s hair and prevent slipping.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Germany became the global leader in cutlery production using a drop-forge process, whereby steel was heated and shaped using a contoured die. German companies like DOVO, founded in 1906, owe their success to the affordable, long-lasting blades created with this method.

During the last hundred years, tool companies like Keen Kutter and Winchester (of firearms fame) included a variety of scissors in their product lines. Other inventive businesses like Wiss and Hartenau made multi-use scissors, like those whose design incorporates a jagged oval opening between the handles to act as a nutcracker or bottle opener.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Sewing Machine Collector

Sewing Machine Collector

Geoff and Norma Dickens' reference site on vintage toy sewing machines from the late 1800s. Browse the images alpha… [read review or visit site]

Alloy Artifacts

Alloy Artifacts

A tool collectors’ dream, this site is a deep repository of photos and info on 20th century hand tools and the co… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Machinery

Vintage Machinery

This collective website, which started as an online discussion forum, also includes a large database of manufacture… [read review or visit site]

Sensibility Vintage Images

Sensibility Vintage Images

An extensive collection of photos and ephemera illustrating changing fashion styles from 1795 to 1959. Includes por… [read review or visit site]

Drainspotting

Drainspotting

Josh and Cam Larios have created this site enabling people to upload and 'tag' photos of historic or artistic manho… [read review or visit site]

A Millers Falls Home Page

A Millers Falls Home Page

Randy Roeder has carved out a niche for himself with his fine website devoted to the history of the Millers Falls C… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Beautiful English Antique 1904 Solid Silver Chatelaine Sewing Scissors With CaseRare 18th Century German Meissen Scissors With Case BeautifulOrnate Antique Sterling Silver Scissors * American * Circa 1900Beautiful Polished Scissor Case Etui In Good Condition, Authentic C1830Rare 1800's Plum Of London & Bristol Brass Mounted Tailors Shears Scissors 13.5"Vintage Sweet Grass Sewing Basket Scissor Thimble Case Tatting Shuttle-montrealAntique Gilded Damascened Steel Scissors * Swedish * Circa 1910Antique Sterling Silver Embroidery Scissors By Gorham Circa 1890sVintage Adjustable Buttonhole Scissors - Brass Screw Pat.1866 W.b.b.&son100pc Sewing Kit Thread Threader Needle Tape Storage Box Measure Scissor Thimble1set Threader Needle Tape Measure Scissor Storage Box Sewing KitsBelding-heminway Sewing Silks Kit Antique Spools Scissors Needle Case ThimbleVintage Japan Sewing Cute Kitty Cat Tape Measure ~ Scissors Davar JapanVintage Lot Sewing Tools Thimbles Pin Cushion Needle Book Scissors Kit 100pc Sewing Kit Thread Threader Needle Tape Storage Box Measure Scissor ThimbleLarge Industrial Collectible Sewing & Upholstry J. Wiss & Sons Shears ScissorsVintage Sewing Box Thread Spools Needles Scissors Thimbles Pin Cushion NotionsKoch Vintage Chrome Barber Scissors 5 1/2 Inches LongLittle Girl Porcelain Sewing Doll Scissors Holder Pincushion Thread Holder VtgAntique J.a. Henckels Twin Works Solingen Germany 2611 Barber Scissors VintageWiss #20 ScissorsAntique Small Scissors Lot T A Koch_barher Solingen-sammann-pritzlaff EverkeenVintage Art Deco Scissors Deus & Co. GermanyVintage Wiss Newark Nj Inlaid No. 22 Steel Forged 12" ScissorsWiss Inlaid No. 138 Forged Steel Sewing Scissors 8" Made In UsaVintage Engraved ScissorsVintage Handmade Handpainted Wood Scissor HolderVintage Clauss Scissor #328kbrAntique Pair Large Scissors- R Heinisch - New Jersey Usa - No 49Scissors Vintage Antique J Wiss & Sons J 7" Steel Scissors SnipsWonderful 1970's Pewter Button W/spool Of Thread & Pair Of Scissors Sewing Motif2 Vintage Stork Scissors. "mundial Italy" & "marks Germany 107". Sharp.Antique Ridgewood Cutlery Co. Brooklyn Ny Miracle Barber Scissors VintageVintage Kingshead Betakut Made In Italy Scissors 9"Vtg Sewing Blonde Girl Figurine Thread Holder Pin Cushion Hat Scissors HolderNtsa Vintage Wiss Usa 4 3/4" Sewing/craft Scissors #3365 W/leather Sheath 2 Pair Of Vintage Black Handle Metal ScissorsVintage "crane Bird" Sewing Scissors - Unique & Different!!Vintage Folding Scissors 4 Inches Long With Plastic Case