Medieval Technology and Locksmiths: A Peek Into History

Keys arranged into a circle Despite their occupational title, locksmiths in Bethlehem were usually experts of different, but connected trades. They are unlike double bay locksmiths today who only focus on locks, keys and security systems. For one, they were also skilled metalsmiths. takes you back in time as you discover the history of locksmithing.

The Overlapping Skills

In the 18th century, there was a significant overlapping in metal trades all through the colonial world. This was when locksmiths needed to use anvil and forge. Even though they knew how to make simple rim locks and padlocks, they also had to learn hole punching, precise fitting, rivet and screw making, spring tempering and lathe turning.

Based on the Bethlehem books dated around 1756 to 1762, the authors typically called these men “locksmith and gunstock makers.” Some were not only locksmiths and blacksmiths; they were also accomplished plumbers and tinsmiths. They used to work with wood, lead, copper, pewter, steel, brass, sheet iron and plate. They likewise saddled gunstocks, screws, hinges, small tools and mountings.

The Varied Accomplishments

The books in Bethlehem recorded the different accomplishments of locksmiths during that time. It listed individuals who made iron and iron bands, and those who repaired shovels, rifles, spoon moulds and a coffee mill. There was an interesting entry where it revealed they manufactured thousands of pipe heads made of clay tobacco.

Surprisingly, locksmiths made clay pipes in Bethlehem instead of potters because of their ability to make moulds. The potters were only in charge of heating the pipes and transferring them to the store for resale. When it comes to the locks and keys, locksmiths back then wanted to improve the complexity and appearance of the mechanism. They already had the knowledge of making the product more attractive because of its frequent location on exterior doors.

During that time, locksmiths had one of the most successful occupations. They did not only limit themselves to just one task, but people can rely on them for their other areas of expertise.

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