Who is a locksmith – A locksmith is a person who works with locks, keys and security systems like safe box(es). Locksmithing is the profession of a locksmith.
While locksmiths originally dealt solely on opening locks, keys and safes, these day and era, with the advancement of technology and innovations, there is a need for the expansion of the scope of what the professions entails, far more than people have been made to realize. Locksmiths have to be very knowledgeable about everything that is security related, starting from the traditional deadbolts doorknobs to high-tech burglary proof alarm and digital access systems.
People do not take notice of how important the job of the locksmith is in their day to day activities. This is the reason they take for granted the different doors been gone through in each day and all locks and keys that protect our house and valuables, be it the car door or the door leading to the main entrance of our house.
Locksmithing in History
Like other professions, locksmithing is a very old profession, almost as old as the existence of man. Locksmithing dates back to 4000 years ago, in the ancient kingdoms of Babylon and Egypt. Though locks were originally much larger and made of wood, the first ones worked in much the same way as locks today. These locks work with series of pins and require the use of keys that looked like oversized wooden toothbrush to unlock them. Little did the creators of this innovative technology know that people would still be utilizing and adapting their invention thousands of years after them.
The technology of Lock spread for many centuries, without seeing any major innovations until the great use of metal in the 9th and 10th century, which led to significant advancements in security and effectiveness. As new locks were invented and the demand for it increased, the locksmith trade really began to come into its own.
Most locksmiths are craftsmen that started off as blacksmiths, or metal workers, and then began specializing in lock-making. The increasing use of locks called for more blacksmiths to focus and specialize on making locks, leading to the emergence of the name locksmith, by which they are still called today.
4 Famous Historical Figures You Never Knew Were Locksmiths
The locksmith trade really is a very humble profession, though their work is necessary to ensure the security of the world in which we live in. That’s why it should not come as surprise that famous historical figures had taken interest in the trade in centuries past. Let’s check four of them out:
1. Pharaoh Khafre 2550 BC
Pharaoh Khafre is synonymous to the legendary face on the Great Sphinx to almost everyone. He built this monument along with the second largest pyramid in Giza more than 4,000 years ago. Although, there is no real confirmation as to his studying locks, yet, he was a driving force behind the creation of some of the world’s first locking mechanisms thanks to Egyptian determination to secure possessions, both in this life and the next.
2. King Louis (1754-1793)
This last king of France was notable for some significant factors. One, he was the husband of infamous Marie Antoinette. Two, he was the only French king to meet his end at the guillotine. Three, it was reported that he loved all things mechanical and practiced locksmithing to an excellent stage. Unfortunately, a locksmith also played a key role in his demise. King Louis was later betrayed by a friend, Francois Gamain. Francois had served as the royal locksmith and taught the king much of what he knew about the trade. Louis asked him to make a secure chest for some vital documents. This documents Gamain eventually turned over to revolutionaries, which ultimately lead to the infamous beheading of the king.
3. Harry Houdini (1874-1926)
It is actually no surprise that widely known magician and escape artist Harry Houdini was trained as a locksmith early in life. Moving to America from Hungary with his family, 11 year old Houdini started working for a local locksmith and quickly picked up the trade. Although, he did not stick with the profession, Houdini’s knowledge of locks and the way they worked was notable in his success as a magician and escape artist. All his life, he collected locks, studied each one with great care to memorize the way it worked and how it could be opened. Houdini never ruled a country or made a scientific discovery, but he did changed the magic industry and is still referred to as one of the world’s greatest escape artists and magicians.
4. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
No one can claim to have never heard of Albert Einstein. His name, most of the time though, probably brings to mind mathematical equations or the image of that elderly man with careless white hair sticking his tongue out at the camera. Einstein was never a true locksmith though, but this Nobel Prize winner and world-renowned physicist still referred to the profession with his infamous quote, “If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith”. He place high respects on the modest trade and, in inference to the use of the atomic bomb in WWII, he felt, maybe his achievements were not that respectable. Despite how he saw himself, Einstein was, and is still considered one of the greatest minds of all time. TIME Magazine even awarded him ‘Person of the (20th) Century’ for shaping history, referring to him as “the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the Universe”.
What are Locks exactly and how where they invented?
The contribution of the notable Linus Yale Jr cannot but be mentioned. In 1861, inspired by the original 1840s pin-tumbler lock designed by his father, he invented and patented a smaller and flater key with serrated edges as well as pins of different lengths inside the lock itself. This same design of the pin-tumbler lock still remains in use today.
A lock is a device, might be mechanical or electronic, which is used to fasten some things or objects, which can be released by physical manipulation of other objects like keys, keycards, fingerprints, security token among others.
Although there is no government body issuing license to locksmiths, The Professional Locksmiths Association of Nigeria (PLAN), a not for profit organization, has been established to promote the level of skills and ethics within the industry. It established its own licensing scheme where companies approved by it are authorized, inspected to ensure quality, and employ a locksmith with an exam based qualification.