Great Books on the History of Locks

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the X-Lock Project by Schuyler Towne. You hopefully learned that Schuyler is really passionate about how locks as we know them came to be. There was a lot of great open, public information about locks put out, especially in the 1800s. Locksmiths and lock manufacturers were trying to make locks that were not just better in their eyes, but better in the eyes of other locksmiths. There were “challenge locks” like the one produced by Joseph Bramah (and eventually picked open by Alfred Hobbs in a rumored 50 hours for The Great Exhibition of 1851.

What I’m talking about today is a showcase of how much Schuyler loves locks, and his attempt to spread that knowledge. One of the driving forces of TOOOL is that first “O,” OPEN. While those of you who’ve picked with us know “OPEN!” to be the thing you yell when you pick a lock, it’s also used the sense of the Free/Open Source Software community. We aim to take the knowledge that we have about locks and physical security, and tear back the curtain. We want you, the general public, to know how your lock is built and how it can be defeated if you choose a cheap lock. We also want you to recognize how much fun this hobby can be, learning the little details of a myriad number of locks, then defeating them. That drive to defeat progressively more difficult locks is the sparkle in the eye of hobbyist lockpickers.

This brings us to the main reason for this post. Schuyler is putting together a series of weekly letters on locks. This week, he did a 2-part writeup of reviews of (and links to) some great books on the history of locks (Part I and Part II). Both parts covered a wide range of lock development from some of the great minds in locks (like the History of the Trade-Mark “Yale”), or “Locks from Iran” which discusses the cultural importance of what locks mean to society.

I really hope that you check out some of these great books, and that you will join us at a TOOOL meeting soon. Our chapter meets at the 1st Saturday of every month at Port City Makerspace in Portsmouth, NH (124 Bartlett St) from 2-4 PM. Our next meeting is on 11/2, and is actually a “Lockpicking 101” style class (slides available here). Email if you have any questions, as we are happy to help. Good luck, and OPEN!


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