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Derivation of findings

Recently a customer whose first language is not english asked me a
question to which I had no answer. “Why are all those little things
called findings?” Anybody know? Betty

Webster’s unabridged says that: Findings are the miscellaneous small
supplies used by a worker in a particular trade. Thread and buttons
are the findings for dressmakers, etc.


Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
760 Market Street - Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94102
tel: 415-391-4179 fax: 415-391-7570

Here is my answer: because I’m always dropping them and spending 30
minutes trying to find them again. Jump rings are also aptly named.

JoAnna Kelleher

Yeah, but Alan, Why “Findings” as opposed to a word that would be
more descriptive. The root of “findings” must be a clue to its’ use,
don’t you think? Anybody out there with an etymology background?

Linda Kaye-Moses

Regarding the etymology of “findings” and “Liver of Sulphur”:
probably more than you ever wanted to know. My source is the Oxford
English Dictionary and Supplement.

There are 6 definitions for the word “finding,” of which we are
interested in the definition of the plural form, which is 4.c.:

4.c. in pl. (See quots.) Also attrib. In finding-store (U.S.). 1846
WORCESTER (citing Chute), Findings, pl., the tools and materials
used by shoemakers. 1858 SIMMONDS Dict. Trade, Findings, the wax,
thread and tools which a journeyman shoemaker has to supply himself
with for his work. Ibid, Finding-stores, an American name for what
are termed in England grindery-warehouses; shops where shoemakers’
tools, etc. are vended.

The definition in 4. c. is expanded upon in the Supplement, with
more quotes: 1896 Godey’s Mag. Feb 222/2 “The cost of findings for a
waist.” 1939 M. B. PICKEN Lang. Fashion 57/2 “Findings, threads,
tapes, buttons, bindings, hooks and eyes, slide fasteners,
Featherbone, belting, braids, and other sewing essentials used in
garment making; carried in notion departments.” 1971 Lebende Sprachen
XVI. 11/1 “US findings-BE US sewing things.”

Now for Liver of Sulphur. The definition is the fourth:

  1. In old chemical terminology, applied (translation of the Latin
    "hepar") to certain liver-coloured substances, e.g., metallic
    sulphides, and compounds of a metal or of sulphur with an ‘alkali’.
    First use was noted in 1694, but the entry from 1800, a translation
    of something called Lagranges Chem., provides an explanation for its
    use: “You fuse together equal parts of sulphur and alkali, …and the
    result will be a solid mass of a reddish brown colour, …which has a
    considerable resemblance to the liver of certain animals. It is for
    this reason that sulphurets have been called Livers.”

Christine in autumnal Littleton, Massachusetts, USA.

According to one of my books on early gold and metalsmithing the
word findings originated from the box that held all the left-overs
and scrap from previously completed work when looking for a piece
to utilize at the moment. This was when handmade was indeed handmade.
They were simple seeing what they could find to work with.
Charles Hayes