The locksmith trade may not be as old as carpentry or masonry but it has earned its place alongside other trades thus deserving a rightful recognition. Locksmiths are much more than people who know how to pick locks and cut keys. A locksmith provides advice on how to keep a property secured, also how to look after locks, latches, doors and locking mechanisms. In light of this, it is only natural to display and exhibit the evolution and development of the locksmith trade in proper museums, highlighting advancements, tradition and the skills and expertise of locksmiths throughout the centuries.
In the UK, there is one major locksmith museum – Locksmith’s House in Willenhall. The museum is housed in a traditional English brick house, featuring the locksmith’s workshop. Locksmith’s House aims to depict the everyday life and duties of the locksmith and their family during the eighteen hundreds. Back in those days, locksmiths were a family owned and operated business serving the local community. The property housing the museum was owned by an actual locksmith company from the early nineteenth century – Richard Hodson & Sons. The establishment offers craftsmanship displays by volunteers who show how locks and keys were made in those days. Locksmith’s House also features a proper lock gallery, displaying many of the keys and locks actually made in Willenhall.
In Paris, France there used to be an exceptional locksmith museum known as Musee de la Serrure or Musee Bricard. The museum was dedicated to the art of keys, locks and doorknockers. The venue was a private key and lock museum established by the Bricard Lock Company. Located at the Hotel Liberal Bruant which is a fifteenth century building, the museum exhibited a magnificent collection of keys and locks from Roman times until present day. The collectiThe John Mossman Collection of Locks on featured bronze keys, as well as Gallo-Roman knockers from the Middle Ages. The main portion of the collection was keys and locks from the fifteenth century on-wards. Musee Bricard had its own locksmith workshop and iron works. Unfortunately, the place has been closed for a number of years now. It is not known if the museum will reopen, and if so where would the new site be.
In Manhattan, NYC, United States, one can visit the John Mossman Lock Collection. The museum is listed in the US National Register of Historic Places which makes it a definite must-see. The J. Mossman houses arguably the largest collection of bank and vault locks of nearly four hundred different items. The museum has an exceptional collection of locksmith tools dating back to the year four thousand BC! Some of the exhibition highlights are Egyptian wooden pick locks, Chinese padlocks, American time locks as well as many more. The museum also houses a large number of custom made locks which were never put into mass production. John Mossman himself, donated his lock and key studies and documentation, knows as the Mossman Papers. The documents are an invaluable insight into the art and skill of making keys and locks.