Pin. A small piece of wire, generally brass and tinned, pointed at one end and with a rounded head at the other, used as a fastener. There is no article used in the whole catalogue of dress which is of greater antiquity than the pin. It has been in use since the day that man and woman first felt the desire to shield their bodies from the gaze of the curious. First as the natural thorn it came into being, and the thorn seems to have given the pin its shape, when later they were made of iron and brass. As in the case of needles, pins are found to have been in use by nearly every nation and savage tribe on the globe. The date of their introduction into Europe is not known with certainty. All pins, in whatever country made, prior to 1824 was of the form spoken of now as the "pin with the old German head." The era of the solid headed pin dates from 1824. The old pin has been aptly described as a shank with a separate head of fine wire twisted around it. This head, variously known as a "spun head," or a "wound head," would sometimes fit on tightly and then again loosely. So apt was it to come entirely away from the shank that the mothers of the last century and the early part of the present, frequently warned their children "not to scratch the ear with the head of a pin," fearing that it would come loose and cause deafness. For hundreds of years the nations of Europe used this rough, loose-headed pin, they being highly prized as articles of luxury among the ladies. A curious fact in the early history of pins was the passage of an act by the English parliament in the 14th century allowing the pin-maker to sell his pins in "open shop " only on the 1st and 2d of January of each year. This was intended to prevent the sale of these "luxuries " to too great an extent, as they were then regarded. It was on these two days of the year that the court ladies and city dames of high and low degree flocked to the shops to buy them, having first been provided with money by their husbands called "pin money." When pins became cheap and common, the ladies spent their allowances on other fancies, but the term "pin money" still remained in vogue. The invention of making solid-headed wire pins by machinery is generally attributed to Lemuel Wellman Wright, of New Hampshire, in the year 1824. Before that time they were imported, and sold at $1 a package. Now, a better pin is made at 3 cents a package. Then handwork had to be employed; now everything is made by machinery. Wright's first machine did very little more than make solid heads to the pins by a process in principle like that of nail-making, that is, by driving a portion of the pin itself into a countersunk hole. The machine failed in the hands of the patentee, and it was not fairly utilized until some years after his death. Since then successive improvements have been made in the mode of manufacture, and the processes have been greatly simplified. The beautiful automatic machinery by which pins are made at present, and the no less intricate machines by which they are stuck into papers, are wonderful when compared with former methods of manufacture. In a pin-making machine, as now used, wire of suitable size running off of a reel, is drawn in and straightened by passing between studs set in a table. When a pin length has entered it is caught by lateral jaws beyond which enough of the wire projects to form the head. Against this a steel punch advances and flattens the wire by a die arrangement into the form of a head. The pin-length is immediately cut off and dropped into a slit just wide enough to admit the body of the pin passing through, but retaining the head. The pins, thus suspended in rows by the heads, are carried to a sliding frame with a dozen grooves, in each of which a pin is deposited as it passes under the slit. In this position the pins are pointed by being held against a revolving file-cut roller. A dozen are thus arranged in a row with their points all in one direction. The sheet of paper to receive the pins is passed through a grooving machine, which creases it into ridges, through which a row of a dozen pins is driven at every thrust forward of the carrying frame. This process can be repeated with great rapidity and the pins stuck as fast as they are made.

In England, particularly during the early days of their manufacture, pins were known in trade as "corkings," or "corking pins," the word "cork" being yet used in England and Scotland to designate a bristle, beard, or metal sliver. In those days pins were made of two kinds: white (brass), and dark natural-colored iron, the former then, as they are now, being the most expensive. They were then made in three different sizes, viz: Rig corkings, middle corkings and short corkings. The letters in present use indicating the size of brass pins are derived from this ancient designation. The sizes of brass pins, from large to small, are as follows:

BC (Big Corkings)

MC (Middle Corkings)

SC (Short Corkings)

F3 1/2 (Fine. No. 3 1/2 Wire)

BB (Very Small)

SW (Short Whites)

Brass pins which are put up full count, that is 400 pins per paper, are termed Ne plus ultra (the utmost point, perfection). Brass pins are also put up in papers of 275 pins and sold at a lower price, but these are never branded Ne plus ultra. Adamantine pins are put up in papers of 240 to 280, and are numbered from 2 large to 5 small.