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Old locks

cerraduras antiguas

old locks There are objects that, due to their beauty and historical value, are not only important for locksmiths. If you are a collector of antiques, a nostalgic or someone who wants to decorate your home by giving it a special note, in this post you will find the information you are looking for. Of course, they will not be used to use them as emergency locks on an emergency door.

What is an old lock?

Before we talk about old locks, we need to clarify what a antique object and what makes an object old and valuable.

old locksOld locks

Antique objects are those that were made a considerable number of years ago. They also demonstrate in their characteristics the typical manufacturing techniques of the time. Antique objects are a sample of the level of technology and technique from the time they were manufactured.

There is no consensus on what is the minimum age an object must be to be considered old.

antique locks with keyAntique key locks

In the case of locks, they are considered old if they are at least 70 years old. That is, all locks that were manufactured before the 1950s are taken into account. old locks.

Old wooden locks

Features of old locks

When we talk about old locks, we usually think of hundreds of years old locks: locks from the 15th, 16th or 18th centuries, although these are old locks that belong to other historical periods, there are also old locks from more modern periods.

Genuine locks over a hundred years old today are hard to find, but it is still possible to find locks from 70 years ago that are also considered old.

ecluze ezcurra antice

The problem is that many ancient fans have difficulty recognizing them. Therefore, it is important to know the characteristics of old locks.

Among the most important features of old locks are:


These locks have a design that is a true reflection of the aesthetics of the moment in which they were made. This is easy to see especially in locks that were made in periods before the twentieth century.

Many of the old locks and screws have beautiful ornaments and patterns.

old door locksOld door locks

Although we must also say that there is another type of antique lock that had no ornaments, these were the ones that were used in certain buildings, such as:

  • Prisons.
  • Warehouses
  • Asylum.
  • Hospitals.

There they served only one function, they were utilitarian pieces that served only to keep the doors closed, not as decorative elements.

The locking mechanism

the locking mechanism and system is very different from the one we use today. This point is vital and can help us get an idea of ​​how old the lock is. The older the lock, the simpler the mechanism it keeps inside. The locks from the 18th century are practically a box with a few simple pieces that are activated by turning the key. These locks are closest to a padlock, only instead of having the components in one portable container I’m in a metal closet called palastro which can be embedded in the door leaf.

The keys to the old locks

The key is also another distinguishing feature of old locks. All the old locks, padlocks and screws that were made until the middle of the 19th century have quite special keys.

old wrought iron locksOld wrought iron locks

old locking keys
They are characterized by the fact that they have a cylinder-shaped body in which two parts are distinguished:

  • Notched head to operate the rudimentary mechanism of the old lock.
  • decorated handle where sometimes it is possible to find a design or a drawing.

Not all old locks have the full set of keys. Having both devices would greatly increase the value of the parts.

types of antique locksTypes of old locks

Other manufacturing details of old locks

We must also remember that most of the old locks, even many dating from the early twentieth century, were made by hand.

They were hand-built pieces by forging locksmiths who, with the help of the hammer, fire, and other tools we tend to associate more often with the blacksmith than the locksmith, made the locks of the houses and some of the furniture.

old door locksAntique door locks

For this reason, it is common to find certain signs of forging on the body of the locks.

Types of old locks

There are several ways to classify old locks. They can be classified according to:

  • The historical period,
  • The ornaments that were used to decorate them,
  • The key type.
  • Its mechanism and complexity.
  • Place of origin.

Although, the best way to classify this type of lock is by the function they performed. Thus we have the following types of old locks:

  1. Old door locks
  2. Locks for antique furniture

Old door locks

They were found in houses or buildings. And they could be very ornate or, on the contrary, they could lack any kind of ornament.

The old locks that had the most decorative details were those found in the imposing and palatial houses of important families. These were the ones who guarded the houses: kings, dignitaries, merchants and powerful.

old keys and locksOld keys and locks

The simplest old locks, on the other hand, were those that were found, not in the houses of poor people and peasants (who in some cases had no locks and some had no doors) they were in warehouses, depots, ports and in all those places where security was needed and aesthetics didn’t matter so much.

Antique locks on furniture, boxes and trunks

In ancient times there were no combined benches or safes, so the rich people kept their most precious goods under lock and key, protected inside. drawers, chests, chests, cabinets and other furniture that had locks.

These older locks differed from those found on the doors of the house because they were smaller, more delicate, and sometimes more detailed.

Where to buy old locks?

It is currently possible buy old style locks in workshops where they continue to be made with the same craft techniques used by locksmiths of the past. Many tourist places with medieval tradition have these workshops.

The easiest way to buy one of these locks is on the web: eBay and Etsy are online stores with the largest range of old locks.

Of course, you have to keep in mind that in most cases these are replicas, not legitimate old locks.

If you want an old and authentic collectible lock, you will need to look at auctions and auctions, both online and in physical stores.

Antique shops, pawnshops and open-air antique fairs in certain cities and towns are great for finding these types of collectibles.