The Nursery Rhyme, Needles and pins, is a poem about common household items. We take such necessary articles for granted but they have some interesting history attached to them. The origins of the Rhyme are based on the custom of husbands providing money to purchase pins (they were expensive at one time!) "Needles and pins, Needles and pins. When a Man marries his Trouble begins."
Needles and Pins?
Today we view these as completely separate items but in days gone by they were both used to fasten clothing.
Sewing needles have been used since the Stone Age when they were made with bone, shells or thorns. As the years rolled by they were made from various metals including iron, bronze, gold and silver. During the Middle Ages Needle making was quite an industry. Usually made from lengths of bronze wire - they eye of the needle was flattened on an anvil then a hole (eye) was driven through then finally the point of a needle was filed down. In London needle-makers formed themselves into a Guild and worked near to the tailors who were based in Threeneedle (now Threadneedle) Street!
Pins and 'Pin Money'
Pins followed a similar evolutionary path. There was a Guild of Pinmakers, or Pinners. Pins were relatively expensive during the Middle Ages and husbands gave their wives money especially for their purchase, as time went by pins became cheaper and the money could be spent on other items - hence the term "pin money".
The Dissolution of the Monastries (1536 and 1540) and Needles & Pins?
English Monasteries were famous for needle-making. This proved to cause a problem in England when King Henry closed all of the Monasteries - he passed an Act in 1543 encouraging the manufacture of good needles and pins!
See a Pin Nursery Rhyme
Help us to maintain our history and heritage through the words and lyrics of old Nursery Rhymes like 'Needles and pins'