Famous Locksmiths Throughout History
The first lock (and perhaps Locksmiths) can link back to as early as 704BC! Since then we have seen vast innovation within lock and security systems. What you might not know is there are some famous people throughout history that have had a hand in locksmithing. We have created a list of some of our favourites.
- Harry Houdini
Arguably the greatest showman of his time, Houdini wowed the masses with his daring tricks and is credited with inventing the art of escapology. However, did you know that at the age of 9, Houdini became an apprentice of a local Locksmith teaching him all about locks and how to open them. This would serve him very well later in life.
At the high of his fame, his acts could draw tens of thousands of people with his greatest challenge being set by the Daily Mirror during his 1904 tour of England. He was presented with a pair of ‘unpickable’ handcuffs that featured 21 leavers and an old style Bramah lock that was locked away within another lock, a lock within a lock principle. After an hour and ten minutes he finally was free of the handcuffs and completed his most difficult challenge or so everyone thought. It is debated that he never opened the lock but instead was slipped a key after the fail attempt!
Either way, Houdini was a master of picking locks and it enabled him to perform amazing feats that stunned thousands. So it’s hard to imagine him completing his most amazing tricks without his background in locksmithing.
- Pharaoh Khufu of Egypt
The name might not be familiar but the Pharaoh is best known for the creation of The Great Pyramid of Giza; which has one of the very first safeguarding systems in the world, and the Sphinx.
Deep within the great pyramid sits an intricate system of blocks, grooves and shafts to protect the mummified body of Khufu and all his worldly treasures. To protect from grave robbers, a series of several granite blocks dropped into grooves and down shafts to block entrances within the King’s chamber after his burial, paired with dead ends, spring traps and endless corridors it was one of the first safeguarding systems of that design at the time.
Most interestingly, it is suggested that Khufu’s real burial chamber has still never been found. It is thought that after the burial, grave robbers broke into the pyramid and raided the chamber. However it is now thought that the main chamber is a decoy meant to fool any grave robbers to protect the real treasures hidden away. If this true, archaeologists have still not been able to locate the primary chamber meaning that this might be the most efficient security system in the world!
- King Louis XVI
Most known for losing his head and causing the fall of the French monarchy, a little known fact about Louis XVI is that he was a keen Locksmith. Whilst at Versailles, he had a forge installed above his personal library to indulge his obsession with locks and would often spend many hours forging, to the great displeasure of Marie Antoinette.
To learn his craft, the chateau’s blacksmith Gamin was employed to teach the King all he knew, and Louis XVI had such trust in him that he employed him to create a special lock for his personal affects. However unbeknown to the king, Gamin was a part of the revolutionists and eventually betrayed the king by giving the revolutionists the key to open the lock that guarded his personal documents that ultimately sealed his fate.
The skills and talents of Locksmiths hold mysteries beyond just opening a lock, who knows the next great Locksmith could invent something that could revolutionize the world. Whether its ingenious security systems way above their time or using the skills do something that truly amazes, the techniques and tricks that you learn as a Locksmith are truly a treasure.