History of locksmiths
Have you ever wondered how locksmiths got started? The art of being a locksmith is believed to have started 1000s of years ago in the time of the Egyptians and Babylonians. Today it is quite hard to believe that the locks of ancient times were small and portable. We now know that the locks those day were not nearly as sophisticated as the one we have today.
In fact the locks back then were very large, crude and often made of wood. However they still worked more or less in the same way that today’s locks do. These locks also made use of pins but the pins could only be moved with a large wooden key that almost resembled a large wooden toothbrush. Once this large key was inserted it had to be pushed upwards in order to open the lock.
The lock and key technology eventually spread and could later be found in Rome, Greece and China. The wealthy Romans were also in the habit of securing their valuables under lock and key. As a status symbol and to prevent them from losing their keys they use to where them as rings on their fingers.
Metal locks first appeared around 870-900 AD and were simple iron bolt locks which were reportedly crafted by Englishmen. It wasn’t too long before iron and brass locks could be found all over Europe and even as far as China.
As the locksmith profession progressed the locksmith became talented metal workers. The locks were created often had beautiful designs on them that were inspired by royal crest and symbols. While there aesthetics developed very few improvements were made to their locking mechanisms. It was only in the 18th century where advancements in metal works made it possible to create more durable and secure locks.
Even with all the improvements the basic mechanism of how a lock and key works have remained mostly the same over the past centuries.
With the rise of the industrial revolution, precision engineering made it possible to manufacture more complex and sophisticated locking mechanisms. In 1780 Robert Baron had perfected the lever tumble lock which required the lever to be lifter to the correct height in order to unlock the lock. This made locks more secure against intruders and is still widely used today.
In the past the job of a locksmith was to actually make the entire lock and not just the keys. This typically took them allot of hour and included allot of filling and cutting screws to make the perfect lock. Mass manufacturing has put an end to this practice and many locksmiths now use their experience and expertise in the repair and maintenance of locks. However today’s locksmith are capable of doing allot more with locks because they know more and have already invented ways of making new lock designs.
As lock designs became more successful and got produced on a large scale the role of a locksmith started to change. Industrial locks became more affordable and took away this lucrative market of traditional locksmiths. This forced locksmiths to start specializing in one of two fields. They could either choose to specialize in working as a repair man for industrial locks, replicating of keys or work for large security companies who design and build safes.
Today, locksmiths work from their shops, security institutions, investigation institutions , security consultants or are focused on one aspect of a skill.