A paper was lately read before the British Association of Sciences, on the history of keys. The author pointed out a strip of bark or a throng of leather as the first means by which property was secured prior to the advanced state of civilization, when permanent Houses were constructed, and the floor and the coffer fastened with bolts, latches and bars Homer was cited as the earliest writer wh mentions anything like a key, and specia reference was made to the primitive locks anc keys of wood of the ancient and moderr Egyptians. The iron keys of Egypt were described, and illustrated by examples frorr. Thebes; and the curious fact pointed out, that nearly similar specimens are met with in Western Africa. After a brief notice of Greek keys, attention was directed to the Romar era, and a minute description was given o1 the fixed and movable locks, the dentated, piped and branched keys, and of the variously formed bows surmounting the stems. Mention was made of the small keys attached to finger rings, and of the false or skeleton key of the Roman housebreaker. The Anglo-Saxon and Norman keys were then dwelt upon, and the various forms and fashions of the key-bows, from the thirteenth century down to a later period, were described.
This article was originally published with the title "History of Keys" in Scientific American 13, 13, 97 (December 1857)