This section is from the book "Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting", by Antoinette Van Hoesen Wakeman. Also available from Amazon: Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting: For Use In Schools And In The Home.
Although such pins as we use now, for so many different purposes that it would be very difficult to enumerate them, are of a comparatively recent date, pins of some kind seem always to have been used. The first pins were thorns, and even at the present time the peasant women of Upper Egypt use these to fasten their dresses.
The pins now in common use are made very rapidly and almost entirely by machinery. After the wire of which they are made has been wound on a reel, it is passed between straightening pins set in a table. When a pin has passed through these straightening pins, it is caught by lateral jaws, beyond which enough of the end projects to form a pin-head; against this projecting portion a steel punch is thrown, which compresses the metal by a die arrangement into a head. The pin length is immediately cut off, and drops into a slit which lets the wire pass through, but retains the head so that the points are held against a file-cut revolving steel roller. The pins are carried along this roller by gravitation, until they fall out at the extremity, well-pointed pins.
The pins are next cleaned by being boiled in weak beer, and are then arranged in a copper pan in layers alternating with layers of grained tin. A sprinkle of argol and water enough to cover the pins is added, and the whole is boiled for several hours, after which they come out having a silvery appearance.
After being washed, they are dried by revolving in a big vat with dry bran. The finished pins are stuck in papers by means of an automatic machine which also folds the papers. The pins are then ready for the market.
Pins were a very different article during the reign of Henry VIII. from what they are at the present time. A law was enacted then that "No person shall put on sale any pins as shall not be doubled-headed and soldered fast to the shank, well smoothed, shaven, filled, canted, and sharpened." It was during the reign of Charles I. that a pin-makers' corporation was first founded in London.
Lady of Pompeii at Work with her Maidens.