Antique Padlocks

Antique Padlocks

At Scaramanga, we stock one of the UK's widest range of collectable, vintage and antique padlocks. Our padlocks previously had a variety of uses, from locks on doors, windows, chests, banks and schools. Some of our steel locks were originally used to lock the doors and shutters on railway wagons. Some of our padlocks have their previous use engraved onto the lock, as well as the date they were made and the 25-year guarantee inscription, making each lock unique, full of character and history. We often salvage these vintage padlocks whilst they are still locked without their original key. Our ethos as a company is to encourage eco-conscious choices for our buyers. We do this by cutting a new key for all of our vintage and antique padlocks, as well as restoring and polishing them, making it easier for you to buy well-conditioned, pre-loved and functional goods for a great price.


Our padlock venture started after we collected hundreds of old and antique wooden chests with brass hasps, but we had no locks to complete them. So, in 2009, we began searching and collecting and we now have over 20 styles in a variety of sizes and metal types including iron, brass and copper. We source our locks between the UK and India. Our Indian locks are primarily made in the North of India in Aligarh, a city famed for its brass, bronze, iron and aluminium industries. The first padlocks were made there in 1890 by the British company Johnson & Co. India as a country hosts great artisan traditions and access to local materials meaning their incredible craft is passed down through generations. Locks were originally made by travellers and locksmiths who worked at small shops within cities. They worked on the ground with simple tools and by hand. Locksmiths often collaborated with a bronze caster to cast certain parts of the lock. Traditionally these locks were sold in bazaars or markets and often locksmiths fashioned locks on-site. As machines evolved, traditionally made locks fell out of fashion, struggling to compete with the mechanically made cheaper alternatives and unfortunately the old craft dipped too.


We value the history and craftmanship built into all of our old padlocks and old keys. The history of locks can be traced back to the pre-Christ era and is frequently mentioned within the Old Testament. It is said that thousands of years ago in India, Emperor Annam used hungry Crocodiles as 'locks.' He sealed his valuable goods into large blocks of wood which were then placed near small islands submerged in the surrounding water. Emperor Annam used hungry Crocodiles, which he called his "Guardian Angels", to protect his treasures. Anyone who dared to steal his treasures would perish once in snapping distance to the Crocodiles.


Egyptians, around 4000 years ago, created mechanical locks using wood with large wooden keys, which had teeth on them to activate the release, a very similar approach to what modern metal padlocks and door locks use today. Although, it was the Romans, in 500 BC, who invented what we know as the modern padlock. They made iron locks with metal bolts, created keys by bending metal and succeeded in creating the first metal padlocks. Allegedly, Chinese merchants witnessed these and spread the invention around the world.


Their portability and compactness promoted their popularity amongst merchants and travellers. Padlocks were small and easy to transport on long excursions to protect goods collected through ancient trade routes from brigands and thieves. As their popularity grew, their decorative elements developed, reflecting art in each country. Locksmiths began creating locks in the shapes of animals such as dragons, horses and dogs.


Originally operated by a key, however, as padlocks became widespread in the 18th century, so did the art of lock-picking forcing locksmiths' to evolve their skills in order to protect valuable goods. They produced letter locks, combination padlocks and trick locks. At Scaramanga, we own some trick padlocks. These trick locks have interesting features, such as fake keyholes with sliding or rotating segments which reveal the real keyhole. One of our trick padlocks resembles a clock with a manually ticking hand whereby the key only opens the lock when the hand is pointing in a specific direction. One of our most unique and challenging trick padlocks has no visible keyhole on its first appearance, only a key with a thin spade-like handle and the padlock with various nailheads decorating it. We were so perplexed by its mechanics that Carl had to go back to our seller in India on his next visit and ask how it worked. The woman who sold it to Carl used the spade-like handle and slid it underneath one of the nail heads, this then triggered the side of the lock to open revealing the keyhole.


Our padlock legacy began over 10 years ago, with Carl searching old markets in India. Since then, our vintage and antique padlocks have been featured in nine Hollywood and British Films and three Tv series'. One of our most serendipitous features was in James Bond's, No Time to Die. 15 years ago, Carl started Scaramanga in his living room, naming it after the James Bond villain, Francisco Scaramanga. Fast forward 15 years and two of our vintage brass padlocks were featured in the 25th Bond film. Following this massive achievement, we began regularly working with props buyers and our vintage padlocks have been featured in Paddington 2, Maleficent 2, Dumbo, The Hobbit and Pan. Our antique padlocks have been featured in Celebrity Big Brother and Crystal Maze.

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