The first iron needles were found in Manching, Bavaria, and date back to the 3rd century BC. It is possible, however, that these were "imported" samples. The ear (holes) were not yet known at that time and they simply bent the blunt tip with a small ring. In the ancient states they also knew the iron needle, and in Ancient Egypt already in the 5th century BC. embroidery was actively used. The needles found on the territory of Ancient Egypt practically do not differ in appearance from modern ones. The first steel needle was found in China, they date back to about the 10th century AD. Needles are believed to have been introduced to Europe around the 8th century AD. Moorish tribes who lived in the territories of modern Morocco and Algeria. According to other sources, it was done by Arab merchants in the XIV century. In any case, steel needles were known there much earlier than in Europe. With the invention of Damascus steel, needles began to be made from it. It happened in 1370. In that year, the first workshop community appeared in Europe, specializing in needles and other garments. There was still no ear in those needles. And they were made exclusively by hand by forging.
Beginning in the 12th century, the method of drawing wire using a special drawing plate became known in Europe, and needles began to be made on a much larger scale. (More precisely, the method has existed for a long time, since ancient times, but then it was safely forgotten). The appearance of the needles has been greatly improved. Nuremberg (Germany) became the center of the needle craft. The revolution in needlework took place in the 16th century, when the wire drawing method was mechanized using a hydraulic motor invented in Germany. The main production is concentrated in Germany, Nuremberg and Spain. "Spanish peaks" - as the needles were called at that time - were even exported. Later - in 1556 - England with its industrial revolution took over the baton, and the main production was concentrated there. Before that, needles were very expensive, rarely a master had more than two needles. Now their prices have become more acceptable.
Interesting fact, in 1850 the British invented special needle looms that allow us to make a familiar eye in the needle. England comes out on top in the world in the production of needles, becomes a monopolist and for a very long time has been a supplier of this necessary product to all countries. Prior to that, the needles with varying degrees of mechanization were chopped from wire, while the English machine not only stamped the needles, but also made the ears itself. The British quickly realized that good quality needles that do not deform, do not break, do not rust, are well polished, are highly valued, and this product is a win-win. The whole world has understood what a convenient steel needle is that does not touch the fabric with its handicraft loop-shaped eye.
By the way, in Russia the first steel needles appeared only in the 17th century, although the age of bone needles found on the territory of Russia (the village of Kostenki, Voronezh region) is determined by experts at about 40 thousand years. Older than Cro-Magnon thimble!
Steel needles were brought from Germany by Hanseatic merchants. Before that, in Russia, they used bronze, later iron needles, for rich customers they were forged from silver (by the way, gold did not take root anywhere for the manufacture of needles - the metal is too soft, bends and breaks). In Tver, already in the 16th century, there was a production of the so-called "Tver needles", thick and thin, which successfully competed on the Russian market with needles from Lithuania. They were sold in thousands in Tver and other cities. “However, even in such a major metalworking center as Novgorod, in the 80s of the 16th century there were only seven needle holders and one pin maker:” writes the historian Ye.I. Zaozerskaya.
Own industrial production of needles in Russia began with the light hand of Peter I. In 1717, he issued a decree on the construction of two needle factories in the villages of Stolbtsy and Kolentsy on the River Pron (modern Ryazan region). They were built by the merchant brothers Ryumin and their "colleague" Sidor Tomilin. Russia by that time did not have its own labor market, as it was an agrarian country, so there was a catastrophic shortage of workers. Peter gave permission to hire them "where they look and at what price they want." By 1720, 124 students were recruited, mainly posadski children from handicraft and trade families in the suburbs of Moscow. Study and work were so hard that hardly anyone could stand it.
There is one amazing Buddhist ceremony in Japan called the Festival of Broken Needles. The festival has been held throughout Japan for over a thousand years on December 8th. Previously, only tailors took part in it, today - anyone who knows how to sew. A special tomb is built for the needles, in which scissors and thimbles are placed. A bowl of tofu, ritual bean curd is placed in the center, and in it are all the needles that have broken or bent over the past year. After that, one of the seamstresses says a special prayer of thanks to the needles for their good service. Then the tofu with needles is wrapped in paper and dipped into the sea.
However, it would be wrong to think that the needles are for sewing only. We talked about some - etchings - at the beginning. But there are also gramophone (more precisely, there were), which made it possible to "remove" the sound from the grooves of the plate: There are needle bearings as a kind of roller bearings. In the 19th century, there was even a so-called "needle gun". When the trigger was pulled, a special needle pierced the paper bottom of the cartridge and ignited the percussion composition of the primer. The "needle gun", however, did not last very long and was supplanted by the rifle.
But the most common "non-sewing" needles are medical needles. Why not sewing though? The surgeon just sews them. Only not fabric, but people. God forbid us to get acquainted with these needles in practice, but in theory. In theory, this is interesting.
To begin with, needles in medicine were used only for injection, since about 1670. However, the syringe in the modern sense of the word appeared only in 1853. A bit late, considering that the prototype of the syringe was invented by the French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal already in 1648. But then the world did not accept his invention. What for? What microbes? What are the injections? Devilishness and nothing more.
The injection needle is a hollow stainless steel tube with an end cut at an acute angle. We were all given injections, so everyone remembers the not very pleasant sensations of "getting to know" such a needle. Now you can not be afraid of injections, because there are already painless microneedles that do not touch the nerve endings. Such a needle, according to doctors, not only in a haystack, but even on a smooth table, you will not immediately find.
A needle in the form of a hollow tube is used, by the way, not only for injections, but also for suctioning gases and liquids, for example, from the chest cavity during inflammation.
"Sewing" medical needles are used by surgeons for stitching ("darning" in their professional slang) of tissues and organs. These needles are not straight, as we are used to, but curved. Depending on the purpose, they are semicircular, triangular, semi-oval. At the end, a split eye for the thread is usually made, the surface of the needle is chrome-plated or nickel-plated so that the needle does not rust. An interesting fact, there are platinum surgical needles. Ophthalmic (eye) needles, with the help of which operations are performed, for example, on the cornea of the eye, have a thickness of a fraction of a millimeter. It is clear that such a needle can only be used with a microscope.
It is impossible not to mention one more medical needles - for acupuncture. In China, this method of treatment was known even before our era. The meaning of acupuncture is in determining the point on the human body, which, according to the projection, is "responsible" for a particular organ. At any point (and there are about 660 known of them), the specialist inserts a special needle up to twelve cm long and with a thickness of 0.3 to 0.45 mm. With this thickness, the acupuncture needle is not straight, but has a helical structure that is felt only to the touch. The tip that remains "sticking out" ends with a kind of knob, so that such a needle resembles a pack of a pin, and not a needle.