ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The History of Locksmithing

Updated on August 17, 2009

The most primitive forms of fastening were by means of knotted thongs, or a wooden or metal bar placed across the inside of a door. A curved key, shaped somewhat like a sickle, was used to move the bar, and examples have been found in many parts of northern Europe. The earliest locks of all are probably the Chinese, of which some extant specimens are as secure as any made in Europe up to the 18th century. Some Egyptian locks are known to be 4000 years old, and locks on the Egyptian plan may be found in many remote places in Europe. The Egyptians made the portion of the hole into which the retaining pegs were inserted hollow, and the key had pins upon it corresponding with these pegs. The key was inserted into the end of the bolt. The Romans based their locks on the same principle as the Egyptians, but the bolt was smaller and the dropping pins were pressed downwards by a spring.


Mechanical locks were developed by the Egyptians about 2000 B.C. Their locks were made of wood and contained pegs that fell by gravity into corresponding holes in the lock bolt. A wood key with a similar pattern of pegs was used to raise the pegs and slide back the bolt. The Greeks used a simple lock in which a notched bolt was moved by a large sickle-shaped key. The Romans developed warded locks and small keys.

The early English and medieval keys were the forerunners of the modern keys from a mechanical point of view. In the locks of this period a pivoted tumbler was used instead of dropping pins. A number of impediments contained in the lock case were interposed between the key and the bolt; these are called wards, and the portion of the key which enters the lock is formed so as to escape them. Robert Barren improved the mechanism of locks in 1774 by placing two levers to guard the bolt, instead of only one; and he also made it necessary for the levers to be lifted up to the right height before the bolt could be turned. The Bramah lock was invented . by Joseph Bramah (1749-1814) in 1784. It has a number (generally six) of thin metal plates called sliders, the notches of which must be brought into certain positions before the key can be used. The Chubb lock was patented in 1818, and since then has been altered and improved many times. It is a lever lock, and has more levers than usual with the addition of one called the detector. This is so placed that it moves and fixes the bolt if any of the levers be lifted a little too high. Notice is thus given of any attempt at picking the lock, even if unsuccessful, as the rightful key will not then open the lock until it has first been turned the reverse way. Both the Bramah and Chubb locks were erroneously thought to be 'unpickable'.

In medieval Europe, warded locks became very elaborate and keys again became large and cumbersome. The lever-tumbler lock was invented and came into general use in the 18th century. It has been largely replaced by the pin-tumbler cylinder lock, invented in 1865 by an American, Linus Yale, Jr. (1821-1868).

The Yale lock was an American invention of about 1860. It is a tumbler lock, but the small flat key and the keyway interlock throughout their length owing to their peculiar cross-section. It is a modern adaptation of the old Egyptian lock, which had pins made of wood, whereas the modern pin-cylinder lock has metal pins.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      aw3 wow


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)