History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When and where did the first metal key locks appear (not the door bolts)?

When did they became widespread?

share|improve this question
Wikipedia is your friend - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lock_%28device%29#History_of_locks – Opt Jan 3 '12 at 16:16
It says from the Antiquity. – Anixx Jan 3 '12 at 16:20
And the only reference it cites is a 1957 copy of popular mechanics – none Jan 5 '12 at 15:55

During websearch, found this material (in Russian), based on the Ian Harrison's book "The Book of Firsts".

According it, wooden lock was invented in the Egypt, and it looked like this: enter image description here

In Rome, people started to use the metallic locks:

enter image description here

And in modern times English locks became popular:

See also:

Update, based on your comment:

Acccording this, first keys on Papal coat of arms were in 1198, surely after the Romes invented the metallic lock. If you'll check the picture, the keys from it is in somethat similar to the Papal coat of arm's key.
enter image description here

share|improve this answer
In that case I wonder why on the Coat of arms of Vatican there are keys if such locks were invented only in 18th century as claimed. – Anixx May 9 '12 at 17:56
@Anixx Updated the answer – VMAtm May 10 '12 at 11:43
To me the keys on the picture and on the coat of arms are completely different. – Anixx May 10 '12 at 18:33
@Anixx But they are the same principle of use and similar form. – VMAtm May 11 '12 at 6:07
@Anixx On my second picture: 1. Long cilindric body. 2. Circle on the end of the key (in case in Vatican there a lot more fancy things, but it still similar) 3. Perpendicular main part of the key on the other end of it. – VMAtm May 11 '12 at 10:42

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.