How Old Is the Safety Pin?

The first fasteners used by man were straight pins made from thorns. But as far back as 20,000 years ago, primitive people made needles out of bone, with “eyes” for plant threads to pass through.

Then the ancient Greeks invented the metal safety pin to fasten their robes. Some Greek safety pins were made with heads shaped like animals or musical instruments. And some Roman safety pins were a foot long! The modern safety pin used today was patented in 1849 by Walter Hunt of New York.

The term pin money, which means a small amount of money that a husband gives his wife for day-to-day expenses, dates back to the 14th century. In those days, pins were expensive and, by custom, a husband gave his wife a small amount of money every January so that she could buy pins for the year.

It wasn’t until the 19th century, when pins were first made by machines, that they became as cheap as they are today.

Pins were so scarce in England in the 1100s that Parliament passed a law allowing them to be sold only two days a year!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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