Keys have been around since time immemorial, and for good reason. They help to safeguard the things that we value most, and have been expanded in versatility to cover a wide range of products. From cars, to homes or even pool gates, you can truly lock away anything nowadays. But, did you know that the piece of metal you hold in your hand may be more nuanced than you initially suspected? Here are five facts about keys that you probably didn’t know!
The Oldest Lock and Key Discovered By Archaeologists:
We kind of covered this already in our history of locksmiths article, but locks have been around for a while, dating back to the days of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. However, did you know that the oldest lock and key ever discovered by archaeologists dates back to around 4,000 years ago? Scientists discovered this key in the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Khorsabad, which is located in modern-day Iraq. The lock was made of wood and bronze, and its design was surprisingly advanced for its time. The system utilized wooden pins that were raised and lowered into specific positions to secure or release the bolt, much like modern-day pin tumbler locks. Given the lack of resources that our ancestors had in comparison to today, the discovery is a testament to the ingenuity of our ancestors and how the concept of locks and keys has been around for millennia.
The Myth of “Skeleton Keys”:
The skeleton key is often portrayed in novels and movies with a sort of supernatural element. However, while the skeleton key does exist, it’s not quite as mystical as the movies depict them. Skeleton keys were originally designed for simple lever locks that were prevalent in older buildings. Their name derived from their basic, slender design — which in turn allowed them to fit into a wide range of locks with similar mechanisms. However, a wide range of locks certainly doesn’t mean every lock in existence. In essence, they weren’t universal keys capable of opening all locks. As such, with advancements in lock technology, the use of skeleton keys has faded over time.
The World of Antique Keys:
Has anyone else seen Antiques Roadshow? No? Well, if I learned anything from that show, it was that you really can collect anything. While collecting keys might not be as mainstream as collecting coins or stamps, there’s still a dedicated community of antique key enthusiasts. These collectors, known as “clefists,” are passionate about preserving and showcasing the artistry and craftsmanship of old keys. Clefists will often showcase keys that come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Moreover, their collection reflects the time periods and regions in which the keys were made. Some clefists even specialize in collecting from specific historical periods or manufacturers. So if you’re looking for a new hobby, maybe try key collecting?
Keyless Entry Into Cars
Key fobs are phenomenal, and have completely revolutionized the way we access our vehicles. Rather than having to search for your key (especially when your hands are full) a click of a button can grant you access to your vehicle. Some vehicles even unlock upon reaching a certain proximity. However, the attributed to the radio frequency identification (RFID) or similar methods that communicate between the key fob and the car’s computer system. Interestingly, the first keyless entry system was developed in 1980 by Siemens and was introduced in luxury vehicles. Today, keyless entry can be found in a variety of vehicles, and used for a variety of purposes. Check out our other article when you’re done here to learn more about some of those benefits.
Perfect Duplicates of Keys
Have you ever wondered how key duplicates are made with such precision? It’s all thanks to key cutting machines. Key cutting machines use computer-aided design (CAD) and computer numerical control (CNC) technology to cut keys. And the results leave users with perfect duplicates. As such, when you request a duplicate key at a hardware store or locksmith, you can thank these machines for your spare key!
Keys are an integral part of our lives. However, they are so much more than just a piece of metal. The history of keys, the various types of keys, and the advancements of keys have helped to shape our society into what it is today, and serves as the crux of our business. If you would like to learn more about keys, feel free to check out our blog!