Scissors are just a normal part of everyday life for most of us – we barely give them a second thought. But from electrician scissors to Kevlar shears, scissors are a tool that we all use and which we all take for granted. With this in mind, ere is a Short History of Scissors.
Scissors are nothing new in the last century – or even in the last millennium. Many people believed that they were first invented by Leonardo Da Vinci; however the humble set of scissors is much, much older than this…
The earliest scissors we know of date to the Middle East up to four thousand years ago. They consisted of two blades made of bronze connected by a thin and curved bronze strip at the end opposite the blade tips. Squeezing the blades brought them together, and releasing them opened them up.
Ancient Egyptian scissors dating to 1500BC have been found by archaeologists; they resembled wheat scythes that were joined together similar to older versions of scissors. But it was the ancient Romans who designed what we’d recognize most as scissors: almost like modern shears, they were crafted to create clean and neat haircuts. Also used in ancient China, Japan, and Korea, these were pivoted scissors with iron or bronze blades that were connected at a “central” point between the handles and the tips. These designs were used almost unmodified until the Renaissance period in Europe.
Pivoted scissors were first manufactured in 1761 by Robert Hinchcliffe, an Englishman. He used cast steel which was hardened and polished; this material was durable, lightweight, hardy and efficient. He started a business purely dedicated to creating “fine scissors”.
Scissors in the 1800s were forged by hand and featured handles that were elaborately decorated, for everything from cutting cigars to embroidery. Examples of elaborate scissors made for unique purposes include:
- Egg scissors, dating to France in 1930 and crafted for the purposes of cutting eggs
- Stork-shaped midwife’s umbilical cutting scissors from the 1800s
After the Industrial Revolution, however, scissors again became purely functional, and to this day most scissors are clean in line and made of stainless steel.