Save The Locks!
That’s what greets you when you go to the home page of the X-Locks Project. It’s the brain child of Schuyler Towne (pronounced like Skyler White), who some of you know from his infamous Kickstarter that has been slow to deliver (but he has posted some pictures recently of those picks getting polished and cleaned up to ship soon). Some of you know him as Shoebox.
If nothing else, Shoebox absolutely loves locks. From a humble start at HOPE in 2006, to a spot on the board of TOOOL US, Schuyler became a rock star in the locksport community. A few years later, Schuyler decided to do some research and discovered that a significant amount of patents regarding locks were lost in the Patent Office Fire of 1836. All patents lost in the fire are known to the patent office as X-Patents. There are estimated to be 9,957, of which only 2,845 have been restored.
The X-Locks Project has a lofty goal:
The ultimate achievement for any one of these patents would be the full recovery of drawings and descriptive text. However, that may not be possible in every case. The next best thing we can hope for is to recover as much information about the inventors and their locks.
I think this is an awesome idea. If you saw Schuyler’s talk at Security B-Sides Boston 2013 on locks, you would understand how much this man cares about locks. During the 1800s, both locks and lockpicking were going through a revolution. There was the origin of the pin tumbler lock by Linus Yale, the innovations in lock construction by Joseph Bramah, the picking of Bramah’s “Challenge Lock” by Alfred Hobbs.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could see the patents behind some of these locks? We could learn the intricate details of some of the most famous locks in history. We could see how these great minds thought, and better understand them (both the locks and the men.
For now, the X-Locks Project is in the initial planning phases, but wouldn’t it be cool to help with this project? Get in touch with Schuyler, and do your part. You may have subscriptions to news archives, have academic resources, be able to support with your college, help transcribe hand-written notes, or help some other way. If so, get in touch through the X-Lock Project’s contact form, and do your part!