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 Victorian Carved Bone Scissors * English * Circa 1890Small Antique English Sterling Silver Embroidery Scissors * Circa 1860Antique Silver Floral Sewing Etui Tools Hallmarks Scissors Needles Case C1890Ornate Antique Sterling Silver Chatelaine Scissors & Sheath * Hallmarked 1903Antique Sterling Silver Sewing Scissors * American * Circa 1890Pretty Vintage Gilded Steel Scissors * Germany * 20th CenturyL2631- Lot Of Vintage Scissors- Estate Find- Sewing, Etc.- 1 Pair Of Case Xx 3 Pairs Antique Steel Rodgers Scissors /suede Leather Case * Circa 1880Antique Steel Sewing Scissors In Sheath * English * Circa 1890sAntique Charmstring Button Honey Color Flower Mold W/ Scissor Swirl BackGingher Designers Series Gloriana Embroidery ScissorsVintage Metal Cased Set Of Travelling Chatelaine Sewing ScissorsVintage Metal Cased Set Of Folding Sewing ScissorsVintage Large Massive Wiss Tailor's Upholstry Scissors Shears 14" ToolOld,used,small Scissors, Sewing,shears,japan,nigiri-basami.Wiss Inlaid 22w Vintage Scissors Large Shears Sewing Usa Newark, Antique German Sterling Silver Sewing Scissors Ornate W/ Ladies Head Marked!Vintage German Scissors Set Of Four Germany Palm Trees Travel Sewing Kit In Leather Case- Needles, Thread, Scissors And More - Black Vintage Wiss Model C Chrome Plate 9" Pinking Shears~hardly Used~extremely Sharp!Vintage Scissors Lot Of Five Metal Scissors Unique Shapes Germany UsaVintage Wiss Model C Pinking Shears Nos In Original Box With Instruction SheetAntique Childs Scissors Black Ornate Stamped Steel Usa .4" Good Conditon..Vintage Antique Scissors Signed HollfyVintage Wooden Embroidery Scissors HolderVintage Sewing Thimbles Advertising Plastic Italy Gold Plate Scissors PorcelainSwedish Vintage C.v. Heljestrand Eskilstun Scissors - Made In SwedenVintage Wiss Usa Scissors 164, 1/2" Round Tip , UsedVintage Swan Sewing Scissors By Hohmanns Solingen Of GermanyVintage H. Boker Tree Brand 12" Tailor Scissors Shears Sharp Heavy Reliance Compton Newark Nj 12 Inch Scissors Vintage Large Size Shears Rare