Locks and keys have been used since ancient times. They are made out of the human need to fence and protect. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and other peoples had primitive devices for locking rooms. They were made of wood. Judging by the findings in the excavations, it can be concluded that the Romans already had metal locks and keys in the later era. No iron locks have been preserved, only bronze keys. It is assumed that the production of locks at that time was already quite advanced and spread throughout the entire territory of the Roman Empire.
During the reign of Annam in India, valuables were locked in large wooden blocks. They were dumped on small islands or immersed in the pools that surrounded the inner courtyards of the palaces. Here the valuables were protected by royal “guardian angels” or crocodiles kept on the verge of starvation.
For hundreds of years, ropes have been used to “lock” doors and tie them to walls. The knot of rope has become a famous symbol of safety – says the legion. Entangled by the “Gordian” of King Phrygia and known by the name – Gordian knot. This knot made sure that the axle of his carriage remained attached to the horses. It was rumored that he would be released by a man destined to conquer Asia.
The key has always been a symbol of human status. The importance of the “head of the house” in Egypt was determined by the number of keys the owner owned. The keys at the time were big. The slaves carried those keys on their shoulders. If a man had more than one slave (or key holder) he was considered a man of great wealth and prestige.
In the Middle Ages, the making of iron locks developed in parallel with the development of the locksmith trade. Locks gave the craft a name in almost all languages. The locks and keys were decorated with decorative workmanship. Prominent masters in this field until the 17th century were the Germans. In the second half of the 17th century, the French improved the manufacture of locks by introducing a device for fixing openings and closing the mechanism in a box. Since then, less attention has been paid to the artistic importance, and more to the technical importance of making.
In the 19th century, revolutionary progress was made in the manufacture of security locks. New types of locks known as their inventors are found: Bramah, Chubb, Yale and Wertheim. The last two lock systems still exist today.
Demand for locks grew rapidly. Craft production could not satisfy demand. Then the production of locks becomes part of the factory production. Factory production has developed more since the second half of the 19th century. In the industrialized countries, it completely suppressed the craft production, leaving only the repair of keys and padlocks to the locksmith craft.