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The History of Locks Museum

The on-line home of the 'Heritage Collection'
Exploring the Art, Craft & Industrial Archaeology of the Locksmith

History of Locks Museum Home Page Galleries - Forum - Contact Us
Recent   pin  Finds
We are constantly scouring the world for artefacts to extend the collection.
A few recent acquisitions…

violence lock
Hobbs 12" Anti-Violence Lock.

16/17th century Armarda chest.

Yale Time Lock
Yale 56 hour pindial time lock.

The earlist known Chubb lock - more...

Our Papers - Latest additions

The Clare Lock Collection

An Inspiration To Collectors And A Tribute To Tony Clare

by Mike Fincher & Brian Morland

40 A4 pages, spiral bound - £8 + P&P

The Chatwood Story

by Tony Clare

43 A4 pages, spiral bound - £10 + P&P
Contact Us to order
More Papers...  More Notices...
 Welcome to the fascinating world of Locks & Keys...
This virtual lock museum is dedicated to all those people who like anything to do with...

The History and Development of the Lock and Key.

The lock and key to most people is a mysterious object, we put all our trust and faith into it when we lock the front door or lock up the safe. Even though we religiously follow this ritual, often many times each day, few are fully aware of what mechanical forces have been activated, but we have fulfilled a very fundamental psychological need. We go about our daily routines in the knowledge that our homes and possessions are safe. We have performed the ritual of locking up.

Archaeology is gaining in popularity. TV programs and films, like, on the one hand Time Team and on the other Indiana Jones have done much to capture the imagination and inspire. In the field of Industrial Archaeology or Industrial History, Locks and Keys are no less worthy of attention. In fact its sometimes said that the craft of the locksmith is the second oldest profession! Certainly mans possessions have always been coveted and therefore the need to keep them secure has been a necessity from the earliest times.

The study of historical or antique locks and keys is a specialised sector of Industrial Archaeology. Not only does it look at the various ways in which a mechanical device achieves its aim but also says something about the basic need on the one hand to protect and secure property and possessions, but it also reminds us of another, darker, aspect of the human instinct.

Of course there are also interesting stories surrounding some artefacts in the collection. Like any custodian of a collection of artefacts we to research into their use and background. Take for instance the Boda-Panza lock and its association with Von Ribbontrop, Hitlers foreign minister, just before WWII. Or the relationship of King George III and George Davis of Windsor, who was locksmith in ordinary to His Majesty. Davis, in 1799, invented and patented a unique style of lock, which was also beautifully engraved with a warning not to make duplicate keys. Sensitive government secrets always demanded, then as today, locks that were state of the art. Davis locks ended up on government dispatch boxes of the time. Our research takes us on many adventures in search of treasure, not so much the contents of strongboxes and safes, but those actual objects of the locksmiths craft of past ages is the "treasure" we actively seek out, and this also very often extends both the collection and our knowledge.

These fascinating aspects are what these virtual History of Locks Museum pages are all about and will hopefully bring some of the mysterious objects of the locksmiths' art and craft alive.

To this end the project not only attempts to gather and display the beautiful and ingenious items of metalwork but also books, manuscripts, catalogues, and other printed matter on the subject. We all know the analogy of a grain of sand doesn't make a beach... but hopefully with enough snippets of information a more complete picture can be built, understood and enjoyed. We especially acknowledge and are grateful to the many individuals that have helped and contributed. Please feel free to make contact via the e-mail links provided with enquiries.

Alternatively you are welcome to view, join and take part in
The History of Locks Forum if you would like to add, correct or comment in any way. Additionally many of the links here will take you to more information within this site or may take you to the HoL Forum Library, where you can view / download relevant documents such as patent specifications, instruction manuals etc. If you have not yet registered for free Forum access request a password at the prompt. Registration is quick, simple and free.

In the mean time its hoped you enjoy browsing our Galleries.

Brian Morland

A note about copyright. This project represents considerable time and effort, please therefore respect our work. Permission is given to download for personal, non-commercial use only - no permission is given for private or commercial use of either the text or pictures including republication. If you like what you see here then do please link to our site.

Charles Chubb
Charles Chubb
1772 - 1846
Founder of the Chubb firm.

Joseph Bramah
Joseph Bramah
1749 - 1814
Patentee of a locking principal that didn't rely on fixed wards or complicated shapes.

George Price
George Price
1819 - 1887
Author of "The Locksmiths Bible" .

History of Locks Museum Home Page Galleries - Forum - Contact Us - ToP
The Heritage Collection of Locks & Keys - UK Tour

We are preparing the collection for a UK tour commencing spring 2010. Watch this space for confirmed public venues or contact us if you would like a 'Hosting Details' information pack. Venues to include, Museums and Galleries, Corporate Receptions and Tourist Centres.

Upcoming Exhibitions

10th - 11th March LockExpo 2018 - Nottingham
East Midlands Conferance Centre, Beeston Ln, Nottingham NG7 2RJ
Free admision

Past Exhibitions


25th June -
30th July
Red House Museum & Gardens Christchurch
Quay Road, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 1BU

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, (last admission 4.30pm) Admission Free Map

Amongst the items on display are Roman keys and lock fragments from the 2nd – 4th century to the sophisticated bankers Vault locks of the Victorian era. Also on display is a recent find – the earliest known surviving example of Chubb’s Detector lock.

The exhibition runs until the 30th July 2011 and is well worth a visit not just for the sheer diversity of locking devices but also for the social working conditions and practices that can be learnt from the pictures and papers on display.

Additionally our curator Brian Morland will be available on Saturday afternoons, for the duration of the exhibition, to further explain the artefacts, to listen to your stories or to identify your items.


If you would like to know more about the artefacts in the collection you are welcome to ask questions or join in with the discussions on the History of Locks Forum.
Simply email requesting a password.
We are keen to extend the artefacts in this collection, don’t hesitate to contact our Curator if you can help in any way.
We especially would like to hear from you if you, or your ancestors, were involved with locks and keys.

All images and text on this page and within this site "The History of Locks and Locksmithing Museum" ( http://www.historyoflocks.com ) are copyright of their respective owners and may not be reproduced without express permission.
This page was last updated January 2018
History of Locks Museum Home Page Galleries - Forum - Contact Us - ToP