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]

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]

Sense & Sensibility Patterns

Sense & Sensibility Patterns

An extensive collection of photos and ephemera illustrating changing fashion styles from 1795 to 1959. Includes por… [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 French Sewing Etui Case Box Needle Case Cathedral Scissors @ 1870Antique French Silver Embroidery Scissors * Circa 1890Antique Steel Stork Scissors * English * Circa 1880Two Vintage Sewing Scissors & Thimbles In Purse CasesVintage Sterling Silver Folding Scissors F & B Sterling Sewing CollectiblesVintage Sterling Silver Handled Sewing Scissors - Ornate - Stamped Also E.i.r.Antique Ornate Sewing ScissorsFine 19th / 20th Antique German Ornate Brass Scissors W/ Sheath Relief Art NiceR. (rochus) Heinisch Tailor Shears ScissorsOver 5 Lbs. Vintage Sewing Notions Lot Thread Zippers Shears Buttons Basics Box14 Pairs Vintage Scissors - Wiss, Henkel, Boker & More3 Pair Of Antique Scissors 11.25" And Smaller Collectible DisplayVtg Sewing Lot Dritz Skirt Marker Tack-it Pattern Sears Electric Scissors +moreUsed Wiss Inlaid Scissors, Steelforged, No. 29, Wiss, Newark, Nj U.s.a.Ntsa Vntg Ja Henckels Germany 3 1/2" Mbroidery Scissors With Leather CaseVintage Pinking Shears "tru-pink" Griffin In Original Box Sewing Crafts ScissorsNtsa Lot Of 20 Asst Stainless Steel 4" & 4 1/2" Iris Scissors - Vintage Long Handle ScissorsAntique Glass Charmstring Button Cobalt Candy Mold - 1/2 Scissor BackVintage Wiss No 138 Shears ScissorsAntique Sterling Silver Scissors Geb.k Germany100pc Home Travel Sewing Kit Thread Threader Needle Measure Scissor Tape Box SetVintage 1968 Wiss Scissors Catalog & The Wiss Story Of Shears & Scissors BookLot Of 10 Vintage Wiss Shears Scissors Pinking TailorVintage Lot Of Sewing Accessories Gingher Scissors Bone Awl Mending Kit CaseAntique Small Germany Scissors ~fancyVintage Sterling Silver Handled Sewing ScissorsLook! Lot Of Vintage Sewing Notions, Clarks Thread, Buttons, Scissors...more!!100pc Sewing Kit Thread Threader Needle Tape Storage Box Measure Scissor ThimbleThorn Rust Sewing Kit Needle And Thread Hand Measure Tape Scissor New