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The History of Locks: Some Interesting Facts from a Kettering Locksmith

Most people take locks for granted. Locks are regarded as simple mechanisms that help us to secure our homes and our goods. Locks, however, have a long and storied history that parallels the development of human culture and civilisation. Here's some information, courtesy of a Kettering locksmith, about locks that you might find interesting.

Locks in Ancient Times

It's thought that the first locks were probably made of wood and were widely used in the ancient world by a number of civilisations. Locks were common in Egypt over 4000 years ago and used the familiar pin tumblers found in many modern locks. These vertically mounted locks depended on gravity to operate -- the pins fell by gravity into openings in a horizontal bolt, preventing it from sliding and effectively locking the door. To open this type of lock, a wooden key having a series of fixed prongs or pegs was inserted into the lock. The prongs raised the pin tumblers in a specific pattern, enabling the lock to be opened. This locking and unlocking method is still in use today. Although large and crude, ancient locks have a direct relationship with modern locks. The first example of a wooden lock came from Persia, where it was used to secure a gate in the palace of a king who ruled in the 8th century BC. The lock was a typical pin-and-tumbler design in which the pegs on the key lifted the tumblers, enabling the bolt to be retracted and the door to be opened.

More Lock History

Metal locks appeared in the 9th century BC and are thought to have originated in Britain. These locks consisted of iron bolts and keyholes fitted "wards" that helped to prevent the lock from being tampered with. Wards are obstructions that block the rotation of a key other than the one specifically matched to that lock. Used extensively by the Romans, warded locks remained in use for over a thousand years. Because travelling merchants required portable security devices, the padlock was developed. This lock quickly evolved into a near art form, with remarkable geometric shapes and symbolic representations of animals and religious images. Ancient padlocks used keys that variously operated by being pulled, pushed, screwed or turned. Eventually, a new type of lock developed that did not require a key. Rather, this lock depends on a rotating disc that aligns with markings on the lock by way of a specific pattern of left and right rotations, known as a combination.

Another Type of Lock

People have always needed to secure their possessions as well as their dwellings, so large locking chests were a natural development. Sometimes chest locks were highly decorated, but generally they were more functional, sturdy and durable enough to stand up to rough transport by land or sea. Such locks usually were mounted vertically inside the chest and had bolts that slid into a fitting on the lid.

Your local Kettering locksmith is pleased to have brought you this bit of interesting history about locks.

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