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Artifact Description

Early scissors have been found in Egypt dating as far back as 1,500 BC, using blades connected by a C-shaped spring at the handle end. Their domestic use in Europe centuries later dates to the 1500s; yet it was not until 1761 that true mass production of scissors occurred. In Sheffield, England, a city known for its cutlery since the 14th century, Robert Hinchliffe used crucible-cast steel to manufacture the blades.

Like most early tools, throughout times scissors were clearly treasured by their owners and were used for any number of different purposes essential to life at the time. In the mid 1800s, there was nothing a Victorian lady enjoyed more than attending her sewing circle regardless of whether it was held in elegant surroundings or in a Village Hall. The attraction was not just to sew or exchange sewing patterns or learn new sewing techniques and of course to exchange tales of assignations and romance. This was also a time to show recently purchased items such as scissors, pincushions, needle cases, thimble cages, and other items relevant to the craft.

During the 19th
century, scissors were hand-forged often with elaborately decorated handles. They were made by hammering steel on indented surfaces known as bosses to form the blades. The rings in the handles were made by punching a hole in the steel and enlarging it with the pointed end of an anvil.

Yet, unlike the more decorative scissors of the era, the 3 pairs of iron scissors recovered from the SS
Republic wreck site are all relatively simple in design. Perhaps intended for shipboard use, alternatively they may represent the remains of a much larger consignment shipped among the enormous hardware cargo bound for New Orleans.

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