La Manufacture Bohin

For the current issue of Selvedge, Anne Laure Camilleri visited La Manufacture Bohin based in beautiful France, and it's likely that any pins and needles you currently have in your home have their origins in this historic pin making factory...

Nestled in the outskirts of a small village in the Normandy countryside, La Manufacture Bohin boasts a long history of sewing needle production. Before electricity was available, the nearby Risle River conveniently provided hydraulic power while the surroundings were once rich with iron ore. Familiar to countless households, seamstresses, fashion couture houses and any individual who has ever used needles, pins, razorblades or paperclips, the name Bohin embodies a 200 year-old family-run business.

The needle factory became known worldwide through the relentless determination and continuing efforts of its visionary owners. The Murano glass head pins are a great example of the finest raw materials and craftsmanship combination at work at La Manufacture Bohin. Historically, needles challenged many great minds, including Leonardo da Vinci, who constructed a machine to point sewing needles in 1496. Willing to unveil the mystery behind sewing needles, Bohin welcomes visitors on their production lines and into their private museum.

Benjamin Bohin was born in 1822 in Aigle, a small village in the Pays d’Ouche region, where his father owned a factory producing wooden boxes, the kind used for Camembert. In 1833, the strong-willed boy asked his father to let him run the factory’s workshops. Upon his father’s refusal, Benjamin fled to Le Havre, hoping to embark on a boat bound for America. This romantic plan failed when the young boy was spotted by family friends and taken back home, safe and sound.

Unfazed by his father’s blunt refusal, Benjamin asked the same question when he turned 15. The answer was a firm ‘no’ so the boy fled to Le Havre again, but this time local policemen brought the runaway teenager back home. At 17 years old, Benjamin asked the same question and his father – dreading a third escape – finally agreed, as the company was getting ready for the next Universal Fair in Paris...

You can read this article in full in the Luna issue of Selvedge, out now.

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