History of the Lock: Europe
Part Two in the History of the Lock series deals with Europe and the middles ages. When speaking of locks and their importance we, as people, tend to equate this with our modern ideas and thoughts of why and how we use these items. But those days we call history were the present to the ones who lived in them and their businesses, stock, belongings and homes were just as important then to them as they are now to all of us.
As we take a look back in the past we see that warded locks, a type of lock which uses a set of wards, or obstructions to stop the lock from opening unless the right key is used, were still being made by metal workers in such locations as Germany, France and England. Variations on keys were made which could move about a post and move the location of a movable bar, which was the locking bolt. As time progressed (the renaissance and medieval times) craftsmen, perhaps the earliest of locksmiths, improved the design of the warded lock by implementing numerous interlocking wards and the use of more complicated keys and key shapes. While the beginning stages to illicit use of locks were internal wards, many of the wards could be easily sidestepped.
As locksmithing became more sophisticated, locks were designed with many levers where each had to be lifted and aligned correctly prior to the bolt moving to the unlocked position. An exposition entitled The Art of the Locksmith was published in France in 1767 which has examples of the lever tumbler lock. No one knows who the inventor of the lock is.
Guilds, almost like current associations were created and when attempting to attain master locksmith status, journeymen locksmiths had to create and provide a working lock and key in order to get this title. The lock and key were meant for display as opposed to installation. In the fourteenth century these guilds became quite large and overtook most of the new locksmith industry with the regulating of design, prices and technique. Eventually becoming corrupt and not encouraging the development of new and better technological advancements very little in the way of significant hardware advancement occurred during the times of these guilds.
As we will see in further editions of the History of the Lock series, locksmithing took on major and important roles in security and protection to compliment the already high in demand need for trade and commerce to also meet the need and desire of safeguarding for the home and each persons personal belongings.
As the role of the lock and the locksmith grows we start to see how the need becomes larger as industry becomes wider and populations increase. This is a trend for most forms of security in large societies, and the lock and locksmith are no exception to this rule.While much has been learned from the earliest days of the lock and the progression into the middle ages, there is still much more as the industrialized nations grew.