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Pins made of iron had been made in Britain in the Middle Ages, but most pins were imported from the Netherlands. The government policy of encouraging domestic production so as to reduce the cost of imports led to the manufacture of brass pins in the third quarter of the 16th century. By the 1620s the industry was flourishing in Gloucestershire and London, in workhouses such as that in Salisbury, and in small places such as Aberford (Yorkshire). At first, brass wire was imported from Sweden and Germany, but following a ban on imports in 1662 the home industry developed quickly. Brass plates were cut into strips, then drawn into wire, cut into pin‐lengths, and ground. The heads were formed by two turns of wire, which were annealed and fitted to the shank, then finished by turning. See Joan Thirsk, Economic Policy and Projects: The Development of a Consumer Society in Early Modern England (1978). For the later history of the industry, see S. R. H. Jones, ‘Price‐Associations and Competition in the British Pin Industry, 1814–40’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 26/2 (1973).

Subjects: History.

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