In today’s world, locks and locksmith history form an incredibly important part of the societies we live in. It’s true, just think about it for a moment. Just about everything we see as important to us, relies on locks to remain safe and in our possession.
Everything from the expensive houses and cars we try to protect with door and window locks, all the way through the spectrum and down to the mundane bicycle chain locks, work lockers and even that small padlock you keep tucked away in your toolbox! Locks are everywhere in one form or another, yet how much do we really know about them and the people who have pioneered this technology since the beginning? Let’s take a closer look at locksmith history and the impact it has had on today’s world.
As previously mentioned, locks have been around longer than anybody can remember! Although historians can’t agree on exactly when the first lock was invented, there’s undeniable proof that locks were used (in some form or another) as far back as the Romans, Greeks and even the Egyptians! The fascinating thing about this is that from the very beginning all the way up to today, the function and purpose of locks hasn’t changed at all! Even the Egyptians recognised a need to secure items in the same way we do today! So what do we know about the people who developed expertise with locks? Well locksmith history can be traced back to the middle ages when ‘Blacksmiths’ had the hugely important role of fashioning items out of metal. Everything from horseshoes for the farmer, to weaponry and armour for the troops would have been created by the Blacksmith. This meant that these ‘smiths’ were often very skilled individuals and their work often included locks. As time went on and the use of locks became more and more prominent, some Blacksmiths chose to focus on locks and became dedicated experts, leading to the title ‘Locksmith’.
As time went on locksmith history began to see more and more importance placed upon the development of better, more secure lock designs. Around 1930 a brand new lock design became very popular due to a rise in crime. This lock was the most secure so far and was known as the ‘Mortise’ lock. You may recognise this type of lock as it’s still being used today! As designs improved, the skills and expertise of locksmiths developed too. As a profession, being a locksmith was recognised as one of the most skilled trade professions available and demand began to sharply rise.
The onset of the second world war is the perfect example of this. As you may imagine, during war-time, the burden of responsibility placed upon locksmiths was incredible! The sheer magnitude of the workload meant that locksmith history saw very little development during the 1940’s as locksmiths across the world were drafted in to aid in their respective countries war effort. Once the war had finished and relative peace had descended on the world, there was still a huge rebuilding effort which kept locksmiths very in demand and extremely busy for many years! This period of locksmith history would see the use of pre-war lock designs remain in fashion for quite some time.
So what about modern day? Where do we find the locksmith trade today? Well unfortunately the highly developed skills of locksmithing has seen a decline with the introduction of automation within factories, which design and build locks faster and more efficiently than a locksmith can. However, there is still an important role for the locksmith in societies and many families still pass on the skills of locksmithing from generation to generation. Also with the introduction of modern building methods, more and more styles of security locks are being introduced, which means the next time you lock yourself out of your car or home, guess who you’ll need to call?
Images sourced from:RomanLocks.com