The 1660 restoration of King Charles II. gave an impetus to the needle trade; the court and people never dressing more extravagantly than during this reign; the king granted a magnificent coat of arms to the needle makers

—the crest, an apple tree and serpent; a shield of green with three needles in a line, ducally crowned; supporters, a man on the right side and a woman on the left

—the woman holds a needle in her dexter hand. The apple tree and serpent now forming the background of the arms, or may be left out, the crest being a Moor's head in profile, wreathed about the temples and coped at the shoulders and in his ears a pearl. The heraldist, who is seldom at a loss in searching out a genealogy when it is necessary, has given the shield Adam and Eve for supporters and a motto,

"They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons"


The art of needle-making was first introduced into England by one Elias Kraus, a German, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth (from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603), previously to which time the bulk of the needles used in this country had been imported from Germany and Spain.

1888 Wymans commercial encyclopædia


In 1650Christopher Greening and a Mr. Damer established needle-factories at Long  Crendon, near  Redditch (120 km/75 miles) and were soon followed  by other needle-makers from London (57km/91miles).

Upwards of a century and a half ago, that is to say in the year 1730, was first established at Redditch the now celebrated Firm (Henry Milward & Sons) whose name appears above and it has remained in the same family ever since. Since Mr. John Frederick Milward and Mr. Victor Milward, the present partners, succeeded to the Firm some thirty years back, immense progress has been made by the business, until at the present day (1888) between seven and eight hundred hands are employed in the works and 8.000.000 needles are finished every week.

The earliest grant of the latter kind is dated 1775 and is in the name of William Sheward, of Redditch, worsted needle manufacturer, for needles with eyes upon a new and particular construction.

The next patent to be noticed is that granted in 1795 to William Bell, of Walsall, for making all sorts of needles, bodkins, knitting-pins, fish-hooks, netting-needles, mesh-pins and sail-needles.

In 1812John Scambler, a needle-maker, of Birmingham introduced the Patent Golden Needles, the chief peculiarity of which was that the eyes were gilt by being dipped in a solution of gold in aqua regia, a process which at best would give but a very unsatisfactory result.

The needle-pointing machine is much older than is generally supposed, the original patent having been granted in 1833, nearly half a century ago, to Daniel Ledsam and William Jones, of Birmingham. The machine in question not only grinds the points of needles, but it cuts off the wire, the lengths being sufficient for two needles.

A most important invention was patented in 1839 by Abel Morrall, a Studley needle-maker, for burnishing the eyes of needles by threading them upon a roughened steel wire stretched in a frame and caused to revolve, or to move backwards and forwards.

This very valuable patent was shortly afterwards purchased by Messrs. Bartleet & Sons, of Redditch and the use of string or cord, which the inventor thought might also serve as well as wire, was disclaimed by them in 1841.





Heraldic description of Needle Makers' Arms

Vert, three needles in fesse, each ducally crowned or.

CREST. A. Moor's head couped at the shoulders, in profile, ppr. wreathed about the temples or. and gu. vested round the shoulders or. in his ear a pearl.

SUPPORTERS. Dexter, a man; Sinister, a woman, both ppr. each wreathed round the waist with leaves of the last; in the woman's hand a needle or. the supporters are commonly called Adam and Eve.

J. R. Appleton, F. S.  



to be continued