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]

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 Sterling Silver Embroidery Scissors In Sheath * Hallmarked 1901/02Lovely Antique Cut Steel Sewing Scissors * English * Circa 1850Antique Palais Royal Mother Of Pearl Scissors * Circa 1810-20 Victorian Style Sterling Silver Chatelaine Scissor Holder Stainless ScissorsPristine Floral Repousse Scissors And Case W/ Chain 925 Sterling Silver 37.6gUnusual Antique "universal" Multi-tool Scissors, 18 Functions, Made By SandersonHuge Vintage Compton U-set 880 16" Naval Sail Makers Tailors Scissors Shears OldOriginal Antique C1800~mother Of Pearl Palais Royal Sewing Scissors W/ 2 PansiesTiny Antique Victorian Chatelaine Scissors Antique Germany Stork ScissorsOrnate Sterling Victorian Scissors Germany Faces And FlowersDesirable Antique 4" Stork Scissor's -excellentVintage Antique Fancy Small Ornate Scissors Marked M F & Co - Germany Huge Pair Vintage Case Xx Brand 12 Inch Scissors - Nice Shears! Ph-12Pristine Floral Repousse Scissors And Case W/ Chain 925 Sterling Silver 37.6gPrimitive Civil War Era Hand Made Miniature Scissors Shears SewingPristine Floral Repousse Scissors And Case W/ Chain 925 Sterling Silver 37.6gLot 13 Pr Scissors Sewing & Pinking Shears Wiss Mundial Griffon Gingher 2 Antique Fancy German Decorative Sewing Scissors H. Boker Crown Bird Cutlery Lot Vtg Wicker Sewing Baskets Filled W/supplies Scissors Thread Buttons Needles+Ntsa Vintage Dovo Solingen Germany 3 1/2" Stork Scissors W/leather SheathPristine Floral Repousse Scissors And Case W/ Chain 925 Sterling Silver 37.6gNtsa Vintage Cupid Chatelaine "star" Folding/travel Scissors W/leather SheathReproduction Antique Silver Effect Gilt 'bird' Needlework Scissors12" Vintage Tailor's Shears By J. Wiss & Sons Of Newark, Nj.Vtg Domestic Buttonhole Worker Set W Shears & Cloth Holder Advertising On BottomVintage - Sewing Kit-ten - Ceramic Scissor Holder, Pin Cushion, Tape MeasureVintage Crane Shape Sewing ScissorsWiss #175 E Telephone Splicers Electricians Shears Scissors 5" Made In UsaWholesale Lot Of 3 Fancy Repousse Sterling 925 Siver Scissor Holder & ScissorsVtg Sewing Embroidery Scissors Lot Columbus 1930 Bridge Cutery Germany Wiss 764 Antique Vtg Lot Of 7 Scissors Brookstone, Rex, Cutlery World, Chaucer, FultonRoberts Solingen Scissors W. Germany Ntsa Vintage Premax Italy 3 1/2" Gold Toned Stork Scissors W/leather SheathLot Of (2) Antique Embroidery Sewing Scissors - Wyeth & UnknownVintage Hot Drop Forged 9.5" Large Steel Scissors/italy. German Cowhide Case TooAntique 7" Long A Witte Germany Cross Motif ScissorsVintage Lot Of 22 Collectible ScissorsLarge 6.5" Victoria Gingher Crane Scissors Sewing EmbroideryVintage Wiss Pinking Shears Model AVintage Solingen Germany Scissor W/ Leather Case Westinghouse PromotionNtsa Vintage Wiss Usa 4 1/2" Sewing Scissors # 814 1/2 W/sheath Ntsa Elan Japan 4" Embroidery/needle Point Scissors (very Fine Tipped) W/sheath J. English & Co. Vintage Sewing Kit, Used W/ Scissors, Thimbles, Pins, Needles#02 - Lot Of Vintage Scissors Small Sewing / Manicure Vintage Wiss Inlaid Scissors Industrial Shear Steel Forged #22 Usa 12" LongAntique Vtg Lot Of 6 Scissors Kds ,red Baron, Lerche,hantover, ComptonVintage Forged Steel Scissors Eversharp Usa 8” Engraved Handles - Free Ship & Nr1950s Sealtest Milk Carton Scissor Sharpener & Worcester Salt Needle Pk SewingTiny Vintage Scissors