HISTORY OF LOCKS AND KEYS

The use of locks goes back to the beginning of recorded history. Men have have always been concerned with protecting their property from others. Locks are how people have have protected their property.

Early History
The oldest example of a mechanically lock was found among the ruins of the palace of Khorasabad in Niveveh. This lock has come to be known as an Egyptian door lock, because of it's widespread use in Egypt. This lock is a forerunner of modern pin-tumblers. The lock consisted of a vertical wooden housing containing several loose wood en pegs of different lengths. These pegs fitted into holes bored in the top of a wooden bolt, preventing the bolt from being moved and the door from being opened. An oblique slot in the bolt provided access for a long wooden key with pegs of various lengths located on one surface and corresponding to the pegs in the vertical housing. When the key was inserted into the bolt and lifted, the pegs inside the housing lined up evenly at the top of the bolt, and permitting the door to be opened. Similar locks were found in Norway and the Faraoe Island and are still in use in certain areas of India and Egypt.

The Greeks used a lock that worked by fastening the wooden bolt and staple to the inside of the door. The key a sickle-shaped wooden or iron key manipulated and lift the bolt. This lock,compare to the latter one provided little security.

The Romans fabricated the first metal lock ibased on Egyptian principles. They designed pins of various shapes with keys and keyholes. Many of the keys were elaborate designs, such as birds and flowers. They were also invented the ward locks, which with modifications are still very much in use. Wards are projections around the keyhole, which prevented the lock from being turn without the proper key. The roman also fashion minature keys that could be worn as rings. But ward lock were relatively easy to pick

Eastern Influences
The further development of the ward lock gave us padlocks. The Russians, Chinese, Turkish and East Indian, used ornate metal padlocks which untilised all kinds of intircate designs. The keyhole was often concealed.

Europe Variations
Sometime around the late 1500's, a lever tumbler was added to the warded locks to make them more effective. More elaborate warding was the only way to make the locks more secure. Keyhole were concealed by shutters or other devices. Nurenberg metalworkers become well known for their locks and keys. Later on the French locksmiths produced beautiful work.

English Locks
In 1778 , Robert Barron, invented the doubletumbler lock, a major refinement of the ward lock. The tumbler, a lever that falls into a slot in the bolt, preventing any movement, until picked up by the key to the height of the slot. This had to be done for eack of the two tumblers at varying heights, then the key would slide the bolt. This inovation is still the basis of all lever locks.

In 1784, Joseph Bramah, displayed in his London store a lock with a sign offering 200 guineas to anyone who could pick it. In 1851, An American locksmith after 51 hours was the first to open it and win the prize. Other inventions by Bramah include: In 1778 he designed major imrpovement to the WC. in 1795 he invented the hadaulic press, he also invented a check numbering machine and quill cutting machine to make the point or nibs of quills or pens. he also patented a wood planning machine.

In 1818 Jeremiah Chubb introduce an improved lever tumbler lock

American Locks
For the past couple of centuries England had been the center of inovations in lockmaking. Then came Linus Yale Jr., son of an inventor & locksmith. Young Linus tried his hand at being a portrait painter . After his unsuccessfull attempt at being an artist Linus settle into producing bank locks in a factory in Newport New York. He deigned and patented the Yale infallible bank lock 1851. His factory in Shelburne Falls Massachussets became famous for it's inovative bank locks. The yale magic bank lock and the yale double treasury bank lock in 1861 introduce combination lock, His most importnt invention was the cylinder lock based on ancient Egyptian design. In 1868 Linus and Henry Robinson Towne founded the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company and set-up a factory in Stamford Connecticut, to to produce cylinder locks.

In 1873, James Sargent of Rochester, New york patented a time lock mechanism that became the prototype of those being used in conntemporary bank vaults. The time mechanism was concealed, utilizing as many as three clocks to cover a total of three days. The bolt was released, for the time the closcks were set to, and the safe then opened to the correct combination.

Modern Day Locks
Most of the locks now in use are variations of the models produce in the 1800's: warded locks, lever tumbler locks and pin tumbler locks.

Copyright © 1996, 1997 travellog

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