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Do Not Run With This Post
August 8, 2014 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Some days, you just want to gaze at pictures of scissors, from ancient Korea to a pair that was used on the Moon.
posted by Etrigan (26 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The peace scissors was pretty neat. Cutting a bomber in half is a neat trick. We should do it more often.
posted by 724A at 8:06 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


There's a baby in that stork!
posted by jillithd at 8:11 AM on August 8


These are really cool, thanks! I especially like the calligrapher's scissors and the bird scissors.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:16 AM on August 8


Fiskars Blue
posted by schmod at 8:18 AM on August 8


Needs more creepy Kroger scissor ladies.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:43 AM on August 8


Three Persian bird shaped scissors, 19th century

My scissors look so drab now. Strike that, all scissors look drab now.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:46 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Alpaca umbilicus-nipper in the form of a baby wearing stork

Somewhere in Georgia, Alton Brown is grumbling about unitaskers.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:48 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I opened the article expecting to only really care about the moon scissors, MOON SCISSORS! but by the time I got to maybe the 4th or 5th photo i had forgotten all about the moon scissors.

anyway i'm going to hungary on a scissor heist asap
posted by elizardbits at 8:50 AM on August 8


This post just isn't going to cut it.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:54 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


My question is: why did it take so long for us to figure out two-blades-on-an-axle scissors vs. squeeze-real-hard scissors? Is it just difficult to do the metalworking necessary for the modern type of scissors?
posted by Maecenas at 8:56 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Woah. more on that bridge tank.
posted by entropone at 8:58 AM on August 8


My question is: why did it take so long for us to figure out two-blades-on-an-axle scissors vs. squeeze-real-hard scissors? Is it just difficult to do the metalworking necessary for the modern type of scissors?

Hinge pins are hard to do, especially when they require precision. It's easier to bend the spring-handle scissors back into alignment after heavy use than it is to replace a pin, which would need to be made of something soft like brass to put in place with a human-powered hammer, and wouldn't hold up all that well. Modern scissors (since about the late 1700's) can use precision brazing or powered trip-hammers to seat a steel pin.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:09 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


Those are some sharp sheep sheering scissors.

Those are some sharp sheep sheering scissors.

Those are some sharp sheep seering shissors.

Thoshe are shome sarp seep seering shissors.

Thothe are thome shtarp theep ...... aw hell!
posted by benito.strauss at 9:54 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Also, Cronenberg's Dead Ringers.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:58 AM on August 8


They missed electric scissors. Found a pair that had belonged to my grandmother when I was clearing out my dad's shop. Hers were older and actually had a cloth wrapped electrical wire.

When did the switch to pin vs. spring happen? The wick cutter from the 16th century looks hinged, so I wonder if that was the first time they were showing up.
posted by Hactar at 10:14 AM on August 8


why did it take so long for us to figure out two-blades-on-an-axle scissors vs. squeeze-real-hard scissors? Is it just difficult to do the metalworking necessary for the modern type of scissors?

It didn't take long to figure pivoted scissors out. From the Encyclopedia Britannica: "Pivoted scissors of bronze and iron were used in ancient Rome and in China, Japan, and Korea."

From Mary Carolyn Beaudry, Findings: The Material Culture of Needlework And Sewing (2006): "Scissors were introduced into Europe around the sixth or seventh century—examples made of iron are found in Roman occupation layers at British sites, and iron scissors dating from 250 BC to 150 BC are also found in France and Germany—but scissors do not seem to have come into general use until the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century."

Beaudry explicitly distinguishes between scissors (made of two blades that pivot on a pin) and shears (made of a single piece that operates via a springy bow). She goes on to note some possible reasons, given by Margrethe de Neergaard in Knives and Scabbards why shears were preferred (at least in Europe) for a millennium or so, including conservatism, ease of construction, and that it took a while for the development of specialty scissor patterns to demonstrate their superiority for certain trades (e.g. hatters, glovers, tailors, and barbers).
posted by jedicus at 10:17 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


As a member of the sinister class, I'm particularly dismayed to see The Hurting Scissors being hailed as "revolutionary."
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:24 AM on August 8


I want many of those scissors and shears, but I need those 6 bladed scissors.

I've always been fascinated by the fact that antique scissors and sheers are often decorated with or shaped to resemble birds, with the blades often standing in for the beaks, but I can't figure out if that started in China, in Persia, in Egypt, or where?

One of the things I like about the 20th and 21st centuries is the explosion of design around objects of utility - now you can get crocodile shaped scissors, and bunny scissors and scissors that fold up and scissors with feet, and scissors that won't hurt a 3 year old child, but it makes me more curious about the cultural impetus/perspective of the past where that variety was either not so easy nor perhaps so valued.
posted by julen at 10:41 AM on August 8


I've always been fascinated by the fact that antique scissors and sheers are often decorated with or shaped to resemble birds, with the blades often standing in for the beaks, but I can't figure out if that started in China, in Persia, in Egypt, or where?

I looked into it yesterday, and as best I can tell making scissors that resemble birds originated in Iran in the 18th and 19th centuries. Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts. The popular stork pattern dates to the Victorian era.
posted by jedicus at 11:18 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Oh fabulous! Thanks, jedicus!
posted by julen at 11:51 AM on August 8


Not to mention their indispensable use as a game token

posted by mmrtnt at 12:06 PM on August 8


In Episode Six of the Cool Tools podcast, "Gareth Branwyn [talks] about the set of household tools he inherited from the former occupants of his house," including these great old kitchen scissors. Embarrassingly, after listening to the show I bought an identical pair off Ebay and, more embarrassingly, haven't shut up about them since.
posted by thursdaystoo at 12:11 PM on August 8




What a great post, and coming so soon after that nice film about the putter-togetherer. There's a novel - have forgotten almost every other detail about it, sorry - set in a poor Afrikaans community where it's a plot point a female character isn't able to cut something because her scissors are blunt. She has the scissors hanging from her belt, but they are unusable. Something about the community being so poor and isolated and also somehow inept, they couldn't fix a tool as technically complicated as scissors.

The umbilical scissors look a bit drastic, don't they? The design is current and shows how thick and tough the umbilical cord must be. I was recently offered the use of them but was happy to wave that off to another interested observer.

Those Kroger Ladies don't half look like Great Long Red-Legged Scissor People.
posted by glasseyes at 2:42 PM on August 8


I love this post! Pivoted scissors have always seemed to me to be amazing tools, really marvelous simple machines that do their jobs so simply and so well we don't even notice the elegance of the mechanism.

I use a surprising number of scissors every day or week - big knife-bladed bent shears to cut fabric yardage. Knife-blade shears for cutting leather - really my old fabric shears; since leather is thick it tends to put a lot of sideways pressure on the blades as they cut and I found I couldn't reliably use the same pair to cut delicate fabric afterward. Small tailor's snips with only one knife blade for cutting notches and tight corners, trimming, and opening buttonholes - the smaller length means they can cut all the way to the tips. Duck-bill scissors with offset handles for applique and trimming delicate things. Pinking shears for trimming curves and pinking. Spring snips for cutting yarn and threads - I buy every new pair of these I see, still looking for the perfect ones.

Poultry shears, for general kitchen use; tin snips; nail and moustache scissors for bangs; paper scissors; all the outdoor things which are really glorified scissors - the hedge trimmer, the lopper, the pruning shears.

Scissors feel maybe the most human and homely of all the tools I use on a daily basis; I think if I were dropped in time a pair of recognizable scissors sitting on a table or in a workbasket would go a long way toward making me feel at home, and the memory of them would underscore feeling alone and alien if I were told no such thing existed.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:45 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I love how intricately decorated most of the pre 19th century scissors are; it seems like scissors got plainer once the Industrial Revolution hit.

I'm gonna need those shredding scissors, though.
posted by supermassive at 6:26 PM on August 8


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