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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 OP LOCKS AND KEYS. of a different description, were in ordinary use, for fastening large doors and gates. There is nothing recorded as to the construction of the lock; but it can be inferred from the description given of the key, which is stated to have been in the form of a large sickle. Aratus, in order to give his readers an idea of the form of the constellation Cassiopeia, compares it to a key; and Huetius states that the constellation answers to such a description, --the stars to the north composing the curved part, and those to the south the handle. There is some curious information on this subject in Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexicon.* " In the early ages," he observes, " they made use of certain crooked keys, having an ivory, or wooden, handle. These keys were placed in the holes of doors, and by turning them one way, or the other, the bolt was moved forward, or backward, in order to open, or shut, the door. This is evident from the testimony of Homer, where he says (Odyssey, xxi.), that Penelope, wanting to open a wardrobe, took a brass key, very crooked, hafted with ivory. On which Eustathiusf remarks, that this kind of key was very ancient, and differed from the keys having several wards, which have been invented since, but that those ancient keys were still in use in his time. The poet Ariston, in the Anthologia, book vii., gives a key the epithet βαθνκαμπη, i.e., one that is much bent. These crooked keys were in the shape of a sickle, δρεπανοειδεις, according to Eustathius, but such keys not being easily carried in the hand, on account of their inconvenient form, they were carried on the shoulder, as we see our reapers carry on their shoulders, at this day, their sickles, joined and tied together. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Ceres, says, that that Goddess, having assumed the form of Nicippe, her priestess carried a key, κατωμαδιαν, that is, superhumeralem, " fit to be borne on the shoulder." It is most probable, that the " crooked keys" here spoken of, were used to fasten and unfasten a simple, horizontal, wooden bar, moving into, and out of, a staple on the door-post, the key being .inserted in a hole in the door, at some distance below the bar, and then turned to the right, or left, by its handle. According to Pliny and Polydore Virgil, the invention of keys is erroneously attributed to Theodore of Samos; they are, however, by other authors, mentioned as having been used before the siege of Troy. * Vide Parkhurst's Lexicon, םפתח, Fifth Edition, page 600. London, 1807. t Eustathius, a Greek commentator on the works of Homer, flourished at Constantinople about A.D. 1170.

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