A good Pair of Hand Shears

Rieser Shears

My family and I almost always go to the De Anza flea market each month. We usually don’t buy anything, but there is always lots of great stuff to look at, and occasionally we do find things (My son always finds a carito, though.)

Over the summer, I happened to stumble upon this pair of hand shears for the garden. They felt really good in my hand and were nice and solid. Other pairs I have had were not expensive, had plastic parts, and eventually broke after lots of frustration. This pair had a dull edge, and a little rust, but I figured they would be an improvement; probably just ending up as a set of placeholders until I went out and bought a “real” pair of shears. Each part of the shears was steel, and they fit my big hands, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong spending, maybe, ten bucks on them.

I asked the guy “how much?” He looked at the rusty shears and gave me back, “three dolars,” as if he was asking too much. I gladly agreed to the price.

If you have pruned trees before, you know that anything but the highest quality shears will make your hand sore, and mangle any branch you try to cut. Even if you can keep them sharp, they usually are just adequate. Good shears that hold an edge, and stay nice and tight are both hard to come by, and quite expensive. I have never invested time and money in a good pair, but they are something I wanted and needed.

Fast forward six months: After another day of pruning in a long pruning season, for some reason, I brought in my shears and laid them on my desk, instead of wiping them and sticking them in the basement. Having a pair of sharp shears in front of you, is enough distraction for anyone. I looked them over carefully. I played with them. And eventually, I Googled the name stamped on the side to see what I could find. Nothing.

I thought, “Weird. Usually every make has some sort of history.” So I looked a little harder and finally found a reference in a digitized orchard book called “Pruning the Apple Orchard.”

Here are a couple excerpts:
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It was printed in 1905!

So after a long season of pruning, I have discovered that my go-to shears, and best pair I have ever owned, are actually 108 years old, and were at one time the highest quality shears made. After a good cleaning and sharpening in the Fall, they have stayed sharp, and served me well. They pinched me a few times, but, now, they function as an extension of my hand; a great tool.

It may sound odd to non-gardeners, but these shears make me really happy. I love them. They are my little treasure, and knowing their history only adds to their value for me. They may be worth some money, or maybe not, but they have become a cherished tool I wouldn’t sell. What a great find.

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