History of safes: invention and development.

An indispensable companion of private property is a strong desire to save it for oneself, and maybe for the descendants.

Nowadays, in order to preserve private capital people use various safes. The noun came from the English word “safe”, which literally translates as secure, reliable. In the other words, a safe – is a rugged box from fire-resistant, unbreakable material where one can store documents and valuables.

But what is the history of the safes? Let’s try to have a look…

The progenitors of modern safes are the ancient chests and caskets, which were an inherent part of life of the rich and the elite. But the history of the treasure chests will not be complete without an overview of the invention and development of the keys — necessary thing for locking the chests.

The first traces of a lockable device that looked likes keys were discovered in the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses II, who reigned in the 13th century BC. But in fairness it should be noted that the wooden mechanical locks were invented by several civilizations simultaneously.

These locks, with movable pins («fingers»), had to be attachment to the door jamb. Pins, in turn, due to their own weight, fell into the holes in the «bolt» and locked the door. This method of locking is used now in the pin tumbler locks.

Over time, these devices were improved, going from wood products to the metal and then in ascending order.

Padlocks with spring mechanism were already used in ancient Rome. The Romans invented fixed lugs in the lock, where they made a variety of notches. It was done to prevent one key from opening all the locks. It must be said that such locking system existed over a thousand years, as it was popular among the merchants, who were vitally interested in the protection of their goods from the robbers. In addition, the locks were of different size from the smallest to the largest. They embodied various figures — from geometric to the shapes of birds and animals, and even the religious symbols.

In the Middle Ages, especially in the Renaissance, the shape of the keys became more refined, as it was influenced by the development of architecture and construction.

The refined shape of the keys was done not in practical needs. It was just admired by the users. The locks were practically never used to lock the doors, because spring mechanisms themselves were unchanged and the safety of the property depended on such nuances as hidden keyholes, complex seizures, etc.

That is why such locks were put on public display without covering to make it clear from what parts they were made, and what the finish of the case and the method of assembly were.

If a worker was able to make a metal lock, that was admired, such worker was appreciated as a great master.

New concepts for locking devices were invented in the 17th century in Europe, when special mechanisms around the keyholes were invented. For example, the bells ringing when the bolt was touched (the progenitor of the modern alarm), or coded locks with a set of specific letters and numbers, which didn’t require keys to open it.

Similar progress was made at the improvement of the chests. If originally they were decorated with wrought-iron lace patterns, painted with bright colors and gold, over time their appearance became secondary. The functionality was the important factor.

According to historians, the king of France, Louis XVI was a master at forging metal and applied his knowledge making the locks. But he was particularly proud of an iron box, which he built into the wall and used to store his personal documents. This was probably the only case in the history when a safe was made by the highest person.

But in terms of industrial production of the safes, the fist place here belongs to the UK, where in the 19th century they began to produce the safes that had the features of the modern proof safes.

First safes were locked with keys. But with the level of security increases the skills of the burglars (who are called safecrackers). Safecrackers opened the locks with a crowbar, or, even worse, blew them up with gunpowder, that was put in the keyhole.

Then mechanical locks with dial plates came to replace the locks with keys. The code was inserted on several rotated disks. But these locks safecrackers found another “crowbar” — it was a medical stethoscope. A slight click was heard with the right location of the numbers on the dial. The sound could be easily distinguished by the use of the medical device.

The manufacturers fixed this defect in the second half of the 20th century, when after a certain improvement the disks of the dials could make a number of additional clicks, which, in turn, prevented from guessing the correct combination.

In the 1960-ies the crackers started using the diamond drills that could pierce even concrete. Manufacturers took prompt action and began to add corundum to the concrete (second hard mineral after the diamond).

Now the mail tool of the safecracker is a soldering lamp that can heat up to the temperature of over 3000 degrees. But if graphite is added to the mixture that fills the walls, while heating such mixture will start smoking and it will be impossible and even not safe to stay close to such a safe. Therefore, crackers are now using modern hydraulic loading equipment; they just take the safes away, and then open them in a convenient place.

Apparently, today the world production of safes is put on a wide production line, trying to satisfy the growing demand of a number of buyers that are increasing day by day. Great variety of different types of safes are produced and sold. Taking into account the current demand many manufacturers try to decorate their products with metal swirls or patterns that should give safes their «classic look.» There are safes that are upholstered with velvet, expensive wood, decorated like a book on a shelf, and many other ones

Technological progress, globalization and migration have led to the fact that the need for safes that can resist not only the breaking attempts, but also the fire has dramatically increased. A large number of counterfeit forced to create standards, committees and commissions that would monitor all the process.

All modern safes can be divided into several categories. They are:

  • furniture safes
  • safes for magnetic devices
  • deposit safes
  • built-in safes
  • cash desk safes
  • portable safes
  • car safes

And their modifications:

  • kind of furniture safes – hotel safes
  • kind of built-in – secret compartments
  • gun safes
  • elite safes

In most countries, in order to have a gun at home, you must have a certified gun safe — the guarantor that unauthorized people won’t have access to the weapon.

There is also a safe that is resistant to explosion (a so called container). It is a part of the subway security system in some cities.

According to the internal safety rules when a suspicious object is found in the subway, it is put in this container and transported to the landfill, where the container is released.

According to the results of the tests it is known that such a container can withstand the explosive disruption of up to 3 kg of TNT.

Perhaps only our descendants will be able to tell who will win in this confrontation: producers vs. «safecrackers,» but we really hope that the winners will be the first ones!



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