Locksmithing : 2000BC to 2000AD
Paintings inside Egyptian pyramids give details of complex locks used 2000 years before Christ was born. The principles they used are still the basis for many of the more sophisticated locks of this millennium.
Every civilisation in history has understood the need for security in the form of locks, to protect life and property. Religion and mythology attest to the role locks and keys played in early recorded history.
The Babylonian god Marduk was said to have made the gates and keys to Heaven. Hecate carried the keys to the universe, according to the Greeks, and Athena carried the keys of her city Athena. In Mathew, Jesus said to Peter: “And I will give unto thee the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven”
Locks are an essential part of life today, and should not be thought of as a current, or future, necessity because of the deterioration of society. Even cave men rolled rocks across the entrances of their caves. In truth Locksmithing has been acknowledged as the second oldest profession on Earth. Locks and the role of the locksmith have changed with time.
Closer to home, the history of locksmithing comes from the term blacksmith; a blacksmith was an individual who worked with metal and steel. During the middle ages, the blacksmith would create war/battle pieces for their king and horseshoes for the knight’s horses. The job of a blacksmith started to include more lock work and many blacksmiths started to specialise in working on locks, since this point the locksmiths work was recognised as its own profession.
During the early part of the 1900’s, more specifically the 1930’s the actual configuration of locks began to change as well; this was because with increasing crime there needed to be improvements in security measures. A new lock was introduced with the first field-reversible with the typical disassembly mortice lock. This new upgrade made it more difficult for individuals to pick the lock.
Locksmithing is one of the earlier forms of engineering and security devices. Although locksmithing may seem like a harmless career in the past there have been questions regarding the knowledge they possess about locking systems. The controversy stemmed from the debate whether the information a locksmith has should remain private or become public.
During the 1940’s, with the onset of WWII, many locksmiths became a priceless commodity. The locksmiths who were in business during this era did not have time to progress the invention in their field but focus primarily on the war.
Many locksmiths were drafted into service while others continued to work as locksmiths during this era. Those that were able to stay behind passed on the knowledge of the trade to their family members so they could carry it on through the generations. Since there was not a lot of progress during this period, the same style of locks continued being used for a period of time after.
Fast forward to our present day, the locksmith trade is now being taught in several trade schools and engineering departments around the world.
For example, Australia offers a degree in locksmithing in the school of engineering. The primary way to become a locksmith is to take one of the courses available in the subject but don’t be fooled by the promise of a high return for your investment. Alternatively, a local locksmith may offer you a position as a trainee and you could learn whilst working, but this is rare. Today, locksmiths do much more than repairing locks they must also be able to assess the potential break in factor and in some sense must implement the appropriate equipment with multiple locks security measures.