I’m always on the lookout for good tailoring tools, especially in antique shops. You can find some quality items if you’re lucky. While vacationing in Lake George, New York this past month, I was fortunate to come across a pair of Wiss Pinking Shears in an antique store, for only $15.

Here they are, in the original box:

Wiss Pinking Shears

Wiss Pinking Shears in Original Box

A close-up shot of the box reveals they were made in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Who knows where they are made today. I feel that things were made to a much higher standard of quality back then, whereas today so many things are made in China.

Product of Wiss Newark, NJ

Product of Wiss Newark, NJ

And finally, opening the box reveals the shears themselves. As you can see, they are in fairly good condition, the worst thing being a bit of tarnish. Finding the original instruction sheet as well was a nice surprise.

Pinking Shears in Box

Pinking Shears in Box

Here they are out of the box. This model measures 10 1/2 inches in length, which I believe is the largest size they make.

Pinking Shears

Antique Wiss Pinking Shears

A close-up shot of the blades allows you to read the inscription. I had been hoping for some kind of serial number to see when they were made, but they turned out to be patent numbers.

Newark, NJ, USA
PATS. 1959190
1965443 — 197040B

Patent Numbers

Patent Numbers

For those of you who weren’t aware, pinking shears are different than normal shears in that the blades are saw-toothed instead of straight, leaving a zigzag edge instead of a straight edge.  This helps prevent fraying to some degree by limiting the length of the frayed thread after it’s cut. This would have been very handy to have last month as I was tailoring my silk waistcoat.

When I first tried the shears, I was disappointed to find that they were incredibly dull. However, a quick search online revealed that they were relatively easy to sharpen yourself, unlike tailors shears. I found this very informative and edifying video on Youtube on the proper sharpening technique for pinking shears.

After proper sharpening, and a good oiling with standard sewing machine oil, they cut like new again!

These pinking shears are but one of the many tools a tailor uses on a day to day basis. I’ll go over more of them when I come across interesting or unusual finds. Please comment and share with your friends!