Picking 17th century cultural heritage locks

If the key to something you do not use every day is lost, it can take a little while before a locksmith is called. In this case it took them a couple of hundred years to find us!

But that is ok. I like mysteries, especially if I can help solving them. Last week was good for mystery solving and there still are some to be solved (edited 8-july: solved!) .

We were invited into some sort of museum where they had four 17th century treasure-boxes without key. They did send some images that allowed me to do some Research (via barrywels on twitter).

When we arrived we inspected the boxes and padlocks with endocsopes and decided they could probably be picked with simple steel wire bent in an L shape. Click on the image below to see how a similar mechanism is opened using two hooks. One hook lifts the hammer while the other moves the bolt.

lever picking

In a little while we did mange to open a number of padlocks and one of the boxes.

Currently three 17th century treasure boxes are waiting to be opened and at least one of them contains a number of ‘heavy objects’. This is interesting, especially if you consider the boxes were used to transport valuables in ships.

Jord was asked to make a key for the lock(s) and that is quite a task with the special warding. Hopefully I can make a blackbag posting out of that too as it is an interesting process to create such a key. (more nice keys on http://www.duke.edu/web/isis/gessler/collections/locks-keys.htm)

The exact location of the remaining boxes has to be kept secret for now not to give anyone any ideas. There will be a follow up soon (after LockCon.US) and hopefully we can solve some more mysteries then.

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5 Responses to “Picking 17th century cultural heritage locks”

  1. Karin Spaink says:

    Being asked to open a centuries old box – that is way cool!

  2. [...] century strong boxes that needed to be opened. After a little probing with an endoscope, he decided they could be picked with a little bit of spring steel. So, what’s in the box? [Barry] is going to send in an [...]

  3. Making those keys would be trivial with wire EDM, once you have some sort of blank and the dimensions needed :)

    Jord, how is your wire EDM project going?

  4. finnfag says:

    Absolutely fantastic. Can’t wait for the followup!!

  5. Judith says:

    Geweldig! Spannend. Ben benieuwd naar de follow-up XD

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