While Egyptians used basic, elemental scissors, it was the Romans who used modern day shears. Similar to today’s variety, they featured a handle at one end, blades on the other and some kind of joint in between. Their simple silhouette and clean lines were a reflection of how advanced they were – like Apple computers in the B.C. era. As the Romans traveled and expanded their reach abroad, so did scissors. Right behind the soldiers were traders who developed trade routes and markets, bringing their commonplace items to the civilizations they touched.
Didn’t think there was much history behind your simple, good ole scissors, right? Neither did I, and that’s why I’m becoming more and more passionate about my Instagram series, #thewaysewingusedtobe. In addition to ogling at the superb package design of sewing notions way back when, it’s also pushing me to research them. Okay, I didn’t have to go back as far back as I did in the case of scissors, but hey, I’m a total geek. I’ll admit it.
This month, I got specific and purchased a slew of scissors. The first pair I bought were Thor Speed Snips Electric Scissors, which according to the instruction sheet, were “intended for the 40 million women who sew creatively.” Um, who doesn’t sew creatively? The next were a pair of Griffon pinking shears that came in a Pepto Bismol colored box. Kind of yucky, kind of pretty. I’ve seen a lot of Griffon branded scissors for sale on Ebay, so I got my pretty little hands on another. My newest set, shown above, comes with an Austrian leather case and included metal thimble and seam gauge. The case is opened and closed with a strong metal zipper that has upheld nicely over the years. Let’s not forget to mention that blue color! What should we call it? Robin’s egg blue?
What happened to Griffon and who were they? Other than the scissors that cost next to nothing so that they can cut close to nothing, the only other brand I know is Gingher. With a little research, I found that The Griffon Cutlery Works was found in 1888 by Albert L Silberstein and manufactured razors and nail files along with pinking shears, nippers, manicure sets,“ladies button hole” scissors, embroidery scissors, poultry shears, barber shears and nose scissors. Originally located on Broadway in New York City, they moved to 74-76 Fifth Avenue, and then to West 19th Street. They remained there until 1968 and today, their faded logo is supposedly still visible if standing from 7th Avenue between 19th and 20th streets. Have any of my NYC sewing peeps seen this? Lola, Marce, Nette, Kelly… I’m hollering at you!
Do you know anything about Griffon that I did not mention? Did your mother have a pair? What about your grandmother?