The Historical Development of Lock Mechanisms

Elizabeth Street Gallery pic
Elizabeth Street Gallery
Image: elizabethstreetgallery.com

Allan Reiver is an accomplished New York art and antique dealer and entrepreneur who owns the Elizabeth Street Gallery, which features curious items such as turn-of-the-century bronze doors, life size wooden horses, bronze sculpture and curiosities. Allan Reiver’s gallery features unique pieces, such as an iron trunk from the 1600s and safes from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

With the first known lockable devices dating back to Egyptian tombs of the 13th century BC, spring-loaded padlocks were in place in ancient Rome. By the Renaissance era, locks had been significantly refined, although they were not used on doors, as the spring mechanisms were universal and easily picked. Rather, the safety of locked items depended on elements such as intricate seizures and concealed keyholes.

In the 17th century, new designs such as coded locks, which relied on a combination of numbers or letters, came into play. In addition, locks were produced that rang a bell when the bolt was touched. These foreshadowed the modern alarm system. In addition, locks became increasingly functional as locksmiths began constructing them out of iron and other sturdy materials.

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