“Today the safe-breaker no longer requires those beautifully fashioned, delicate yet powerful tools which were formerly both the admiration and the despair of the safe manufacturer. For the introduction of nitroglycerine, ‘soup’ in technical parlance, has not only obviated onerous labor, but has again enabled the safe-cracking industry to gain a step on the safe-making one. The modern ‘yeggman,’ however, is often an inartistic, untidy workman, for it frequently happens that when the door suddenly parts company with the safe it takes the front of the building with it. The bombardment of the surrounding territory with portions of the Farmers’ National Bank seldom fails to rouse from slumber even the soundly-sleeping tillers of the soil.”
—Scientific American, January 1856
More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our anniversary archive page.