BEFORE THE INVENTION OF THE NAIL CLIPPER, you had three basic choices when dealing with the inevitable growth of your fingernails. You could let them grow. You Could use scissors to trim them. Or you could use your teeth … but nobody wanted to see that.
Its debatable when exactly that changed, although a series of patents for fingernail trimmers were granted between 1875 and the turn of the century. around the time the H.T. Cook Machine Company produced the familiar Gem brand.
While there are many variations, the most common structure is a four-piece metal gadget in which the rotatable top piece can be pushed down to force the two others to clench together.
The addition of files and pointed edges makes the tool useful for cleaning and buffing as well as clipping. What it doesn’t help you with is tracking down that stray nail shard that flicked out of sight.