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The History of Locksmiths: A History of Locks and Keys

History of Locksmiths

Locksmiths have always been instrumental in safeguarding people’s property, playing a crucial role in securing their belongings. Throughout the history of locksmiths, spanning from ancient Egypt to the present day, the locksmithing profession has constantly evolved, demonstrating the remarkable progress driven by human ingenuity. Today, locksmiths like the proficient experts at employ state-of-the-art tools and provide professional services by both English and Spanish-speaking locksmiths. In this article, we will look at the astonishing growth of the locksmith industry, tracing its roots from prehistoric times to the contemporary landscape.

The First Locks Were Made of Wood

The oldest locks are believed to originate in 704 BC in the Assyrian Empire’s ruins found in the city of Khorsabad. They were particularly large in size, impractical, and mostly made of wood. Nonetheless, they served the same purpose as today’s modern locks, featuring interior pins that were moved with large and cumbersome keys also made of wood. These massive keys had to be inserted inside the locks and pushed upwards to work. 

Along with a number of other Eastern nations, such as China, these locks and keys also reached the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Later, wealthy Romans began to lock up their possessions in rooms with locks, protected by smaller keys that might be worn as rings on the fingers. This served as a technique of both displaying their affluence and constantly guarding their keys.

The Switch to Metal Locks 

History of LocksmithsThere weren’t many changes until around the year 900 AD when metal replaced wood and competent English artisans began producing the first iron bolt locks. Soon after, these designs of locks made of brass or iron began to spread throughout Europe and once more reached China. They provided additional convenience in usage because they used keys that could be rotated, screwed, and pushed.

The locksmithing trade evolved over time, attracting an increasing number of skilled metal craftsmen who were eager to use their skills and implement their creative ideas. As a result, between the 14th and 17th centuries, locksmiths made a great deal of artistic progress, mostly by designing elaborate locks with distinctive patterns for noble families and drawing inspiration from royal emblems.

The operation and physics of locks and keys underwent significant alterations in addition to the overall design. In the 18th century, locksmiths began developing stronger locks and keys that might provide greater security.

The Industrial Revolution and Locksmithing

Even greater changes occurred during the industrial revolution in the 18th century when engineering precision and the standardization of different components made locks and keys a lot more complex and sophisticated.

Robert Barron was the one who perfected the level tumbler lock in 1778. The lock, which is still in use today, used the lever for lifting to a certain height to unlock a door. A burglary in Portsmouth Dockyard a few years later in 1817 determined the British Government to run a competition that would help them manufacture an even better lock. Jeremiah Chubb was the one who won the competition with his iconic Chubb detector lock. The device was not easy to pick, as Chubb won the competition at the end of three History of Locksmithsmonths of failed picking attempts. His revolutionary lock also signaled homeowners whenever the lock had been tampered with. 

Three years after the invention, Jeremiah created the Chubb lock company together with his brother Charles. More improvements were brought to this lock over the course of the following two decades.

Joseph Bramah invented a round key that featured notches on the surface. The notches were capable of moving metal slides to interfere with the opening. When the same metal reached a certain position, they unlocked the door.  The double-acting pin tumbler lock was patented in 1805. Its modern-day version that we still use today was created by Linus Yale in 1848, followed by a more sophisticated model in 1861. 

Today’s Locks and Keys 

Along with the use of electronic chips and smart technologies, most of today’s locks continue to be improved versions of Chubb’s, Bramah’s, and Yale’s locks. These advancements highlight the ongoing recognition of the importance of protective locks in our homes and properties. Locksmiths have evolved in the modern era to meet the changing requirements of security. With the help of their adaptable trucks, mobile locksmiths can now make duplicate keys on the spot and reprogram key fobs. They work with security organizations to create and deploy many levels of locks that protect against infiltration in addition to serving individuals. Locksmiths also provide their skills as forensic specialists in investigative institutions, confirming the reliability of locks and keys as important pieces of evidence. The diverse functions that the locksmith industry plays in maintaining our safety and security highlight its ongoing importance in today’s society.

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