Everyone knows that locksmiths repair locks, and that they replace or duplicate keys. We also know that if we’re ever locked out of our home, or out of our car, a locksmith is the person we want to call. However, there is a lot more to the locksmith profession than just that, and most people aren’t aware of it.
Here are five interesting facts about locksmiths that you probably didn’t know:
1. It’s a profession that has been around for thousands of years.
Evidence suggests that locksmithing has been around for over 4,000 years, and is believed to have started in Egypt and Babylon, shortly after spreading to Greece, Rome, and China. In fact, the oldest lock found by archaeologists was found near Niniveh, in the Khorsabad ruins. The lock, believed to have been created around 4000 BC, was large and wooden, but worked similarly to the locks we use today. It is believed that one of the first jobs of locksmiths was to protect the tombs of rulers in the pyramids of Giza.
2. An apprenticeship is required in order to become a locksmith.
While a person doesn’t require a college degree in order to become a locksmith (even though certification programs are available now), an apprenticeship is required. The apprenticeships are usually completed either by taking a few specified college courses, by being trained on-the-job, or by a combination of both. The apprenticeship is required, not necessarily to teach the apprentice specific skills, but rather, to ensure that they will abide by the ethical conduct required of all locksmiths, proving to be honest and trustworthy individuals.
3. Locksmithing involves a lot of different skills.
Many people think that locksmiths just have to know how to pick a lock and duplicate keys. A good locksmith, however, also has the skills of a mechanic, which helps him understand the different types of locks, and the mechanics of how they work. The skills of a security expert and of an engineer are also vital, as locksmiths often work with security locks and must be able to repair them, but also re-key them as necessary. The skills of a carpenter are important when the locksmith is making or repairing locks, or even when he’s duplicating keys. In other words, a good locksmith needs to have a well-rounded set of skills.
a security expert, an engineer, and a carpenter. The countless of different locks around the world make it important for a locksmith to understand the different types of locks, as well as the mechanisms of how they work.
4. History Fun Fact: A locksmith betrayed King Louis XVI.
Louis XVI developed an interest in locks at a young age. This interest led him to develop a friendship with Francois Gamain, the royal locksmith. Gamain taught Louis about locks and how to build them from scratch. The two remained friends, even after Louis XVI became King of France. When the French revolution began, King Louis XVI asked Gamain, who had been his friend for 20 years by then, to build an iron chest with a special lock to secure important documents. Gamain, however, who had joined the revolutionary cause in secret, betrayed the King and exposed the chest with the documents in it. The documents helped the effort to overthrow the king.
5. Some locksmiths have become famous by combining their trade with another talent.
Harry Houdini, and Charles Courtney, are two examples of locksmiths who combined their trade with a talent of theirs, and became very famous and successful because of it. Harry Houdini, famous illusionist and escape artist, became a locksmith’s apprentice at the age of 11. During his apprenticeship, he learned to pick just about any lock – a skill that paved the way for him to become the successful escape artist he was.
Charles Courtney was a locksmith, but also a diver. He became known as a Master Locksmith when he started using his expertise in locks underwater. He started diving up to 400 feet into the ocean, looking for sunken ships, and opening any safes he found. He helped companies recover millions of dollars by doing this, thus earning fame and success around the world.