30 Fun Facts About Locks

  1. The oldest known locks are roughly 4,000 years old. These were made by Egyptians, and were large wooden bolts to secure doors.
  2. The oldest key-based lock dates back to 704 BC and was found in the ruins of the palace of Sargon of Akkad.
  3. Early Roman locks were a variation on Egyptian locks, but with iron instead of wood. The keys were often bronze.
  4. In Ancient Rome, women were often the keepers of the keys. They sometimes wore rings of keys, and some rings were attached to hair pins.
  5. Keys in Rome had elaborate carved handles, sometimes the heads of lions or horses.
  6. In Egyptian society, keys were a symbol of wealth, since few people could afford safes or locking doors.
  7. Padlocks date back to ancient Egypt and Babylon.
  8. During the Renaissance, the designs of locks were heavily influenced by Gothic architecture, which pleased the noblemen for whom they were crafted.
  9. One of the basic lock designs is the lever. A small lever made of metal works with a bolt, and this design dates back to the Roman Empire.
  10. Another basic lock design is the warded lock. This places obstructions in a pattern, with the key shaped to work around the obstructions.
  11. Rober Barron invented the double-acting tumbler lock in 1778. A stump on the tumbler passes through the bolt, opening the lock.
  12. James Sargent invented the first combination lock in 1857.
  13. In early America, locks were used more to safekeep particular possessions than to lock up houses and other buildings.
  14. Most locks in early America were imported from China or other countries. America didn’t have the manufacturing capacity to meet the demand.
  15. Harry Houdini was a locksmith before coming a magician.
  16. Wall-mounted locks are used in high-security situations, such as for safe-deposit boxes. They are often installed with censors and alarms.
  17. If deadbolts aren’t installed properly, they won’t give protection. It’s important to have a locksmith rather than a contractor install them.
  18. Some locksmiths work with the police, giving them entry to buildings.
  19. There are organizations, magazines, websites, and seminars devoted to lock picking.
  20. In the U.S., mass production of locks began around 1840.
  21. Many modern locks are hybrids of various designs.
  22. The Euroka, was a combination lock used for a bank vault used in the U.S. Treasury Department in the 19th century. Its dial had a combination of letters and numbers with 1,073,741,824 possible combinations.
  23. Movie depictions of picking locks with bobby pins are grossly inaccurate.
  24. A parrot in England picked a lock in November of 2014. The parrot was named magic, and escaped from his cage and then the car in which he was being transported.
  25. New biometric locks work by recognizing the fingerprint of the owner.
  26. Locks are classified by grades of security, from low to high.
  27. In the 16th century, Russian Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich, locked his wife in her room when he went to war.
  28. Exit control locks prevent people from leaving a building when not authorized. These are used in airports and in stores to prevent shoplifting.
  29. King Louis XVI was an avid forger of locks and keys.
  30. Walter Schlage, whose name you often see on keys and locks, invented the cylindrical pin-tumbler lock in the 1920s.

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