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”)

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]

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]

Old Woodworking Machines

Old Woodworking Machines

This collective website, which started as an online discussion forum, now also includes a large database of manufac… [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    

Antique Palais Royal Mother Of Pearl Scissors W/ Pansies * Circa 1810-2019thc Large Faux Tortoiseshell Sewing Etui / Necessaire - Solid Silver ScissorsAntique Sterling Silver Embroidery Scissors * American * Circa 1890sOrnate Brass Mounted Sewing Scissors C1890 No Reserve Vintage AntiqueAntique Folding Steel Chatelaine Scissors * English * Circa 1880Sewing Kit Set Thimble Needle Case Scissors & Holder Brass Antique Victorian Tartan Ware Mcduff Sewing Scissors Case & Scissors Circa 1880sVtg Silver Plated Steel Scissors Case English Pocket Sewing Box Antique Brass A Pair Of Ornate Gilded French Antique Embroidery Scissors Vintage Ardalt Pink Spaghetti Poodle Figurine Scissor Glasses Pin Cushion RareHuge 18th 19th C Colonial Antique Wrought Iron Scissors Shears SignedGeorgian Scissors Steel & Mother Of Pearl Monogram Sewing Fruit Ladies Etui A/fVintage Wood Sewing Caddy Bird Scissors + Thimble Thread Pin Cushion Primitive Hand-forged 17th/18th Century Scissors: Heavy-duty Steel BlacksmithVintage Wiss Scissors; Heavy Duty 12 1/2" Long; Ships Free2 1930 Chrome German Scissors Vintage Old Tool Solingen Henckels Pfeilring Vintage Inox Miniture Folding Sewing Scissors, Made In France With Original CaseVintage 12” Wiss Inlaid Scissors #22Case Xx Bradford Pa. Scissors 40-6Vtg. Yellow Canary 7" Chrome Plated Pinking Shears Scissors Original BoxAntique Small Size Sewing Scissors NrLot Of 14 Vintage Antique Scissors Wiss, Sklar, Ja-son, J. Rodgers Us Germany3 Pairs Vintage Sewing ? Scissors Peres Griffon ? Germany Vintage Case Xx Usa Scissors 20-8 Sewing Trimmers Shears 8" Tool Oldie Embroidery ScissorsAntique French Silver Embroidery Scissors* Circa 1900Vintage Wiss Scissors Rare Hammered Dimples Vintage Buttonhole Scissors Marked HolleyAntique Small Celluloid Handled Sewing Scissors Nr A Pair Of French Steel Scissors With Pairing NumberAntique Sterling Silver Embroidery ScissorsVintage Industrial Scissors Clauss No. 3218 Usa 8" Steel W/ Black HandleVintage Antique Tooled Leather String And Scissors Holder Crafts Sewing Vintage Solingen Germany Scissors Vintage Griffon Tru Pink Pinking Shears Made In Usa In Original BoxNice Unused Vintage Stork Scissors Or Crane Scissors Made In Japan Gold TonePottery Maid Or Cook Thimble And Matching Butler Scissor Holder And ScissorVintage Wiss #75 Scissors Made In U.s.a.Stork Scissors Unknown Origin. Old But Not Very Old. Still Cut. Good For DesktopLot Scissors Shears Sewing Embroidery Crafts Fiskars Winchester Case Premier 19Antique/vintage ScissorsAntique Stork - Bird Vanity Or Thread Scissors By Garland Cutlery Of GermanyHand Made Wood And Metal Painted Scissors Holder Gift For Those Who Quilt Or SewWiss-inlaid~usa Pat. 3289296 No 128~8'' Long~vintage Scissors~high Quality Tool 1 Lot Of Small Scissors 11 PairsAdjustable, Vintage Buttonhole Scissors By Germania Cuttlery, Made In GermanyClayton Scissors! Vintage 9" They May Be Old But Still Cut Just Fine!Hearthside Deluxe Pinking ShearsLot Of 5 Scissors Orange Handle And Smaller Embroidery StylesVintage Wiss 8 Inch 1.k.s. Scissors With Green Paint Plus Simailar Pair Vintage J Wiss & Sons Pinking Shears Scissors Model C Newark Nj UsaWiss Solid Steel Zig Zag Pinking Shears Scissors Sharp Craft Vintage PackagingVintage Scissors Set