Locksmiths that Shaped History
When people think of the famous and infamous, rarely do they think of locksmiths. However, some of history’s greatest minds picked locks to keep their minds sharp and the powerful used locks to keep their secrets and valuables secure. Locks have kept pharoahs safe and topled monarchies. We count on locks every day to keep our homes, cars, businesses, and valuables safe.
King Loius XVI
When you think of locksmiths, the French Revolution doesn’t immediately come to mind. Instead, most people think of the riches of Versailles and Marie Antoinette’s famous misquote, “Let them eat cake.” However, the French Revolution and locksmithing have quite a bit in common. It turns out that Marie Antoinette’s husband, King Louis XVI, was an amateur locksmith. He loved mechanical things and he even built his own security cabinet. Unfortunately, another amatuer locksmith and a friend of the king revealed where the security cabinet was, and as a result, his papers were found. Apparently the papers contained incriminating information. As a result, Louis XVI didn’t fare so well. (If hearing about the French Revolution made you think about the guillotine, then you know what happened to the King.)
In 1905 Albert Einstein revolutionized physics by publishing his special theory of relativity. This new knowledge combined with the pressures of World War II led to the atomic bomb and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even though Einstein initially supported the creation of the atom bomb, five months before his death he said “I made one great mistake in my life…recommending that the atom bombs be made.” So where does locksmithing fit in? When looking back at his life Einstein reminisced “If I had only known, I would have become a locksmith.” That’s right. If Einstein could have done it all over again he would have been a locksmith by profession. Instead of revolutionizing the scientific community perhaps he would have revolutionized the security industry.
Ok, so maybe Houdini did not shape history, but he was pretty cool. In 1884 he apprentised at a lockshop and by age 11 could pick any lock. Even though it took many years and trials before he found his fame, Houdini is to this day touted as the greatest escape artist of all time. His ability to pick locks and handcuffs led many inventors to create locks to challenge Houdini.
Pharoah Khafre of Egypt
History’s first locksmith. Khafre ruled Egypt in 2500 B.C. (Yes, over 4,000 years ago). Khafre is best known for his building of statues like the Sphinx, but he also sponsored the invention of the first mechanical locks with similar elements to the locks we use today. These locks were made of wood and the keys weighed over 10 pounds! The size of the keys made them impractical for everyday use, but they were used to lock the treasury and some tombs, including rooms in the great pyramid of Giza.
And then there is the most famous inventor of Colonial times. A great statesman and a founding father of America – Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin used a key to attract lightning to his kite in the mid 1700’s. In this way, he discovered the power of electricity and revolutionized how we power our lives today. Without his “key” discovery, Edison would not have invented the light bulb and we would be living in darkness to this day.
Who would have thought that locksmiths, lock fanatics, and locksmith wannabees would play such pivotal roles in history? You never can tell what secrets the famous hide. But, if you have information that needs to be protected; remember to ask a locksmith to help you secure it.