Who Invented the Scissors? (Invention Timeline Explained)

It’s a little strange how in the modern age, we have so many different wonderful inventions, yet we never really wonder where they came from, or how they came to be. Sure, we might be interested in the development of the internet or the growth of gaming consoles, but what about the more mundane aspects? What about the history of scissors?

It’s an indispensable part of the household — to the point where you’d be hard-pressed to find any home that didn’t have it. Wouldn’t it be fun to look into the history of scissors, and figure out just how deep that rabbit hole goes? Let’s have a look at the history of scissors!

Who invented scissors?

There are many different accounts, though the earliest known scissors were found in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago. It’s only natural to assume that the Mesopotamians are the inventors of scissors, at least as far as we know.

Scissors’ key contributors (and evolution)

  • The Mesopotamians
    Inventors of the scissors

    The type of scissors found in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago were of the spring-type variety. It’s a surprisingly modern tool in such an age of antiquity. Most people wouldn’t expect those kinds of inventions from such a long time ago.

  • The Egyptians
    One of the oldest examples of the scissors

    The ancient Egyptians were often seen as the inventors of the scissors, up until the time the earliest example was found in Mesopotamia. This pair of scissors isn’t quite like the ones used today.

  • The Romans
    Earliest developers of the closest example to modern scissors

    If you’re looking for an example of scissors that resemble shears — perhaps the closest example of modern scissors — all you have to do is look into the inventions of the ancient Romans. The shear-type was invented around 100 AD.

  • The Chinese, Japanese, and the Koreans
    Had similar scissor designs after the Romans

    The Chinese, Japanese, and the Koreans all used similar types of scissors, known as pivoted scissors. 

  • Robert Hinchliffe
    Developed what would be known as modern scissors

    In 1761, Robert Hinchliffe of Sheffield would produce the very first pair of modern scissors. This pair of scissors was made with polished cast steel.

When were scissors invented?

The very earliest form of scissors was found in Mesopotamia, dated around 2000 BC. 

A brief history of scissors

It’s pretty amazing that the very first kinds of scissors found were the spring-type scissors, where it would be squeezed to bring the blades together, and you would pull them apart to release. These scissors were found in Mesopotamia around 3000 to 4000 years ago, which is a remarkably long time for such an advanced tool. It just goes to show how creative humanity can be  — and they also knew not to make huge changes to a useful tool!

For example, the spring-type scissors were the most common in the early years, and was a design adopted by the civilizations of the time with very little change. It wasn’t until the Romans in 100 AD when the scissors started to look a little bit more like the modern scissors we use today. The scissors the Romans developed were used by the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Koreans. The design centered around pivoted scissors, with a center point between the tips and the handles.

Also, did you know that Leonardo da Vinci was credited with the invention of the scissors? Considering his genius, it’s an easy rumor for people to swallow. However, such a thing was only an urban myth, though the scissors saw plenty of use in Europe. Eventually, Robert Hinchliffe of Sheffield would produce the very first pair of modern scissors. This pair of scissors was made with polished cast steel. After that, modern scissors were produced in larger quantities, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The scissors timeline

  1. 2000 BC
    The earliest type of scissors found in Mesopotamia

    The Mesopotamians are credited as being the inventors of scissors, as the earlier type of scissors was found in Mesopotamian land, and dated to be around 3000 to 4000 years old.

  2. 1500 BC
    The ancient Egyptians’ variant

    The ancient Egyptians are next in the history congo line, having developed their own type of scissors that were more like scythes than anything else.

  3. 100 AD
    The Roman variant

    The Romans had a knack for creative inventions, similar to the Egyptians, which is why it’s no surprise that they were able to develop a more modern iteration of scissors. Their style of scissors was so popular that they were used all over the world.

  4. 1761
    Development of what would be known as modern scissors

    For the most part, the design of scissors didn’t deviate much from the pivoted variant throughout history. That changed In 1761, when Robert Hinchliffe of Sheffield would produce the very first pair of modern scissors. This pair of scissors was made with polished cast steel.

Where were scissors invented?

It’s widely known that the first pair of scissors were invented in Mesopotamia.

The importance of scissors

  • A useful invention from antiquity

    It’s kind of strange that such a precise tool was invented during the time of the ancient Mesopotamians. Before the discovery, the earliest known scissors were developed by the Egyptians, around 1500 BC. Even ancient man had a knack for inventions!

  • Can you imagine your home without it?

    The iconic pair of scissors fulfills many roles within one’s home. They can help cut cloth, paper, and all sorts of materials. There are even pairs of scissors used specifically for meat!

  • Mundane, yet versatile

    The idea of using scissors is typically pretty simple — even mundane — but the fact that it’s so versatile shows just how underrated scissors can be when pit against other significant inventions. Its versatility can’t be underestimated, and its usefulness hasn’t changed even in the modern age.

  • A variety of tools

    While the modern pair of scissors is the one you usually wield with one hand, there are a surprising number of variations. There are kitchen scissors, poultry shears, cigar cutters, loppers, grass shears, nail scissors, mustache scissors, surgical scissors, and so much more. It’s the kind of gift that keeps on giving, as such a simple pair of scissors can branch out into so many types.

Scissors by the numbers

  • 20Most types of scissors are anywhere between 15 to 20 cm in length. Any longer than that and it would be considered the larger variant, known as the shears.
  • 2Despite the many variants of scissors, the modern scissors we know today have 2 primary types. There’s the right-handed scissors, and the left-handed variant. A scissors’ blades are asymmetrical, which is why the typical right-handed scissors isn’t effective for left-handed people. Of course, they can simply learn to use the scissors with their right hand, but why do that when there’s a left-handed variant?
  • 1990The year when Edward Scissorhands — starring famous actor Johnny Depp — was released. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s about a person whose hands are made of scissor blades. It sounds strange, but it’s a good film.
  • 2019The year the film Us, a psychological horror, was released. It’s an interesting film about how a family has to face their scissor-wielding doppelgangers. Scissors are not only useful in general, but they make pretty good weapons in horror films too!

Five facts about scissors

  • All sorts of designs

    The most common type of scissors is the one you can wield with one hand. In a lot of ways, it’s a symbol of delicate precision, and so many civilizations took time to develop intricate designs for specific scissors. Some even included animal designs.

  • The scissorman

    Did you know that in a popular video game series from the 90s, Clocktower, the protagonist was constantly chased by someone known as the scissorman? The design was that of a small man wielding an unusually large pair of shears.

  • Plastic or rubber

    Today’s modern scissors often use two types of materials to help increase overall comfort. While plastic scissors tend to be more common, there are also scissors with rubber handles, for more comfort.

  • Superstitions with scissors

    Did you know that it’s considered bad luck to leave scissors open? It’s also bad luck to use scissors during New Year’s Day. If both blades break, it’s an ominous sign indeed.

  • The plural and singular form

    Technically, there is no singular form when we talk about scissors. A pair of scissors will always be plural.

FAQs about scissors

  • Should I care about getting a left-handed pair of scissors?

    Well, are you left-handed? If that’s the case, you might as well go for a left-handed pair of scissors. It’s much more comfortable to use, as most scissors were made for right-handed individuals.

  • Know any more weird superstitions when it comes to scissors?

    Did you know that some households would nail a pair of scissors over their door to help ward off bad luck? It’s also not a good idea to give scissors as a gift, since that’s considered bad luck.

  • Why are there so many different kinds of scissors?

    The reason why there are so many types out there is because of necessity. You wouldn’t want the scissors you use to cut cloth and materials to also be the one to cut meat, correct? You also wouldn’t want to cut grass with the scissors used to trim hair.

  • Are we ever going to stop needing scissors?

    That’s kind of like saying we’re eventually not going to need tables or chairs. The iconic pair of scissors is surprisingly versatile, and will likely be an evergreen trend.

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