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The History of Scissors

Although Leonardo da Vinci is often credited with inventing scissors to cut canvas, the device predates him. In fact, the ancient Egyptians used an early version of scissors as far back as 1500 B.C. They were made of a single piece of metal that was fashioned into two blades controlled by a metal strip, which kept the blades apart until they were squeezed. Over time, the device spread to other parts of the world and the Romans adapted the design in 100 A.D. The Roman version was the first example of pivoted or cross-blade scissors. It featured two blades designed to slide past one another with a pivot situated between the tip and the handles. Both the Egyptian and Roman versions were made of bronze (although the Romans sometimes used iron) and required frequent sharpening. While no one knows who invented scissors, Robert Hinchliffe is widely credited as the father of modern scissors. In 1761, he made history as the first person to use steel to manufacture scissors. He then mass-produced his product, giving rise to modern scissors. While some material and stylistic changes have been made (think plastic handles and safety blades for children), scissors haven’t changed significantly in design since Hinchliffe introduced the modern version in the mid-1700s. Interestingly, there have been many superstitions involving scissors, but they are by far most famous for being humble, utilitarian devices that are so ever-present in our lives that their importance is often overlooked.

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