Does anyone have a definitive origin for the phrase/idiom "Put/stick a pin in it/that" used to mean "let's delay, come back to something later"?
I searched the site, but didn't see this asked or answered.
Possible origins I've found or considered:
Urban Dictionary (sorry) offers a WWII origin of putting the pin back in a grenade so it doesn't explode.
Multiple sources mention Jane Austen's use of pins to mark edits in her manuscript but I don't know if this was a wide enough practice to coin a phrase.
I can easily picture this coming from the tailoring trade (as so many idioms did) where you pin fabric in position before sewing it down.
Wikipedia offers this on the history of the drawing pin or push pin (with some great detail about their effect on woodwork):
The drawing pin was invented in name and as a mass-produced item in what is now the United States in the mid/late 1750s. It was first mentioned in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1759. It was said that the use of the newly invented drawing pin to attach notices to school house doors was making significant contribution to the whittling away of their gothic doors. Modern drawing pins were also found as standard in architects’ drawing boxes in the late 18th century.
Edwin Moore patented the "push-pin" in the US in 1900 and founded the Moore Push-Pin Company. Moore described them as a pin with a handle. Later, in 1903, in Lychen, German clockmaker Johann Kirsten invented flat-headed pins for use with drawings.
Given this, I would say an occurrence of the phrase pre-1750 makes an origin in the sewing trades more likely?
There is another occurrence in the Wikipedia entry on (standard/straight) pins mentioning their use in marking or pinning together pages of a book, so maybe this was a common enough practice to coin the phrase.
Searching for the phrase "stick a pin" (between 1700 and 1850) in Google Books turned up the following occurrences:
1821 – The phrase appears in William Cobbett's column "To Mr. John Hayes, on Lawyer Scarlett's Poor-Law Bill" from his newspaper Cobbett's Weekly Political Register on May 14, 1821 (republished in 1835 in Selections from Cobbett's Political Works, Volume 6, p. 87)). Cobbett writes:
[...] at the same time, made grand military preparations, not leaving out the cannons. What law they had for these things a day may come, perhaps, for inquiring in a lawful way. At present, we will "stick a pin there." Fasten so much up in your and my memory: and in the meanwhile [...]
The quotation marks appear in the original texts (which suggests to me an early idiomatic use).
1826 – William Cobbett also used the phrase again in his column "Rural Ride, from Burghclere to Lyndhurst, in the New Forest", which was first published in the Political Register on October 21, 1826 (and republished in 1826 in his book Rural Rides, p. 557):
The sales of sheep, at this one fair (including Appleshaw), must have amounted, this year, to a hundred and twenty or thirty thousand pounds less than last year! Stick a pin there, master "PROSPERITY ROBINSON," and turn back to it again anon! [...]
This, with further elaboration of "turn[ing] back to it again", supports the explanation of a pin used to mark a place in a book.