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On the Construction of Locks and Keys by John Chubb

Locksmithing, Blacksmithing, Metalcraft, Locks, Keys, Construction, Chubb, metalwork, security, antique, collectors, tools, education
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CONSTRUCTION OF LOCKS AND KEYS separated where the letters, forming a particular word, were in a straight line with one another. The word was selected from among a thousand, and the choice was the secret of the purchaser. Any one not knowing the word, might turn the rings round for years without succeeding in finding the right one. The workmanship was excellent, and Regnier was prouder of this, than he was of the invention itself. The latter point might be contested. I had a vague recollection of having seen something of the sort before, but when I ventured to say so, my suspicions were treated with scorn and indignation, and I was not able to prove my assertions; but many years afterwards, when a book, which as a boy I had often diligently read, fell into my hands, Regnier's lock was suddenly displayed. The book was called Silvestri a Petrasancta Symbola Heroica, printed at Amsterdam in 1682: there was an explanation at page 254, attached to a picture; these were the words: Honorius de Bellis, serulæ innexxæ orbibus volubilibus ac literatis circumscripsit hoc lemma¯Sorte out labore. However, neither luck nor labour would have done much towards discovering the secret of opening Regnier's locks, from the variety of their combinations ; and their security seemed so great, that the couriers' despatch boxes were generally fastened with them." Although these locks are not so ancient as the Egyptian, and the warded locks, yet the credit of their invention cannot be claimed by M. Regnier. In Beaumont and Fletcher's play of the " Noble Gentleman," Act 5th,* the following allusion to a lock of this sort occurs : " A cap case for your linen, and your plate, With a strange lock that opens with A. M. E. N." In some verses by Carew, addressed to May, on his " Comedy of the Heir," † there is the following passage:¯ " As doth a lock, That goes with letters; for, till every one be known, The lock's as fast, as if you had found none." There was also another lock constructed on the warded principle, but with the addition of a single tumbler, which prevented the bolt from being shot back, until it was lifted up by the key. However, as it is not the design of this paper to enter into the details of, and describe the multifarious alterations, and improvements in, the construction fo locks, it is now proposed to trace the four principal and ancient inventions, upon which, as far
* Written before 1615, first published in 1647, folio. † " The Heir," a Comedy, by Thomas May, acted by the Company'of Kevels, in 1620.


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