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William Whiteley & Sons

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

William Whiteley & Sons began manufacturing scissors in the 18th century, and are the oldest documented scissor manufacturer in the western world.[1] They were officially established in 1760 after being granted trademark '332', but unofficially, it is speculated that they have been around longer than that.[citation needed] After Ernest Wright & Son ceased trading in June 2018[2], William Whiteley & Sons became recognised as the last scissor manufacturer in Sheffield, England,[3] and were active throughout the Industrial Revolution that took place in Sheffield in the 18th Century.[4]

Sheffield Scissors[edit]

Scissors are composed of two pieces, each with blades at one end and a round hole for fingers at the other. The pieces are kept together with a screw or rivet, which still allows them to be opened and closed, sliding the blades against each other to cut. The blades and bows of scissors can be quite different depending on the intended use, and material to cut.[citation needed]

The familiar, cross blade scissor design with a central pivot point emerged during the Roman Empire around 100 AD. Before the 19th century most scissors were hand-forged from iron, but by 1830 the steel producing region in and around Sheffield, England were creating high quality unique to purpose steel scissors.[5]

'Scissorsmyths'/'Scissar makers'/'Shearsmiths' were active in Sheffield from the early 1600s and by taking advantage of the availability of Hydropower, skilled labour and raw materials needed, by the mid-1600s Sheffield was well known for the manufacture of steel and cutlery.[citation needed]

In the 1700 and 1800s this industry grew, following on from the invention of crucible steel by Benjamin Huntsman in the 1740s and an increase in domestic and export trade. This increased trade led to a variety of production roles within the industry, particularly the scissor trade where some companies began to specialise - such as the production of tailors shears, or scissor grinding respectively.[6]


William Whiteley & Sons can be traced back to 1760 when they were granted trade mark 332. Today it is still run by the 11th generation of the founding family.[7]

The company started out at a countryside location where the forging and grinding (abrasive cutting) was powered by a giant waterwheel that turned in a forging dam. When the industrial revolution brought forward the power of steam, and allowed Sheffield based companies to move into the city centre, William Whiteley & Sons are known to have opened a factory on Gibraltar Street, Sheffield in 1787.[citation needed]

In 1875 Whiteley's acquired Thomas Wilkinson & Son - Manufacturers of Tailors Shears and Scissors. Thomas Wilkinson was Sheffield’s Master Cutler, who invented the ‘sidebent’ scissor – he cranked the handles so that they tilted upwards, which allowed for smoother cutting of cloth as the lower blade could run flat along the fabric. Within textile and fabric assembly trades, such as tailoring and dressmaking, eg; businesses within Savile Row tailoring, the sidebent scissor/shear is still considered a vital tool.[citation needed]

After presenting Queen Victoria with a pair of filed and enamelled decorative scissors in 1838, Thomas Wilkinson and Son were appointed Manufacturers of Scissors in Ordinary to her Majesty Queen Victoria and Cutlers to H.R.H. Albert, Prince Consort on October 16th 1840. Thomas Wilkinson & Son won a medal for their display of scissors at The Great Exhibition, which included some replicas of scissors made for the Royal Household. Both William Whiteley & Sons and Thomas Wilkinson & Son were awarded prize medals at the London Exhibitions in 1851 and 1862 and the Paris International Exhibition in 1855.[8][9]

Modern Day[edit]

Whiteley's scissors are still manufactured in Sheffield, England with a steel construction.[10] and are now known to create speciality shears which cut through materials such as leather, carpet, Kevlar© and carbon fibre[11], traditional methods are still used to meet requests from hi-tech businesses around the world.[7]

The EXO series, which was released via a successful Kickstarter campaign and developed with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) of the University of Sheffield located in the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham[1], was brought in to combine traditional methods with modern.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "A cut above the rest: the western world's oldest scissor manufacturer develops sharp new generation of blades after teaming up with AMRC - AMRC".
  2. "Historic Sheffield scissor company Ernest Wright and Son 'closed for good'".
  3. "Industrial Sheffield's last scissor factory". 25 February 2010 – via
  4. "History of Sheffield". 13 May 2018 – via Wikipedia.
  5. "Antique and Vintage Scissors and Shears - Collectors Weekly".
  7. 7.0 7.1 "A family firm for 11 generations!".
  8. "Thomas Wilkinson & Son".
  9. "William Whiteley, Professional quality Textile Craft Industry Scissors - Prosharp - Online shop & sharpening services, Buy online, Devon, Cornwall, UK".
  10. http:/
  11. "Industrial Shear Suppliers Create Super Scissors for Craft Market - Core77". Core77.

Further reading[edit]

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