How the Lock, Grommet and Screw Have Changed Over Time

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Did you know that, contrary to popular belief, iron maidens were not invented in the Middle Ages, and were never used as an agent of torture? At least, there is no evidence of any such practice. In reality, iron maidens, which are an iron cabinet with a spike covered interior, were initially compiled in the 1800s from pieces of old artifacts. The intent was to create unique objects for commercial exhibition.

Many of us don’t understand the interesting history of objects and tools we use everyday. What context are you missing? Here are three objects, as well as their intriguing background.

1. The Lock

The very first locks were designed over 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, and they were fairly simple yet ingenious in design. They worked in a similar nature to our indoor locks today, except the lock had teeth that connected upward with loose pins, and the entire lock mechanism appeared more like a cross. It took another 2,000 years for any significant changes to be made to this design. In the past several centuries, huge advances have been made in lock technology, and many types of locks now exist, from combination locks, to sliding locks, to keycard locks.

2. The Grommet

Today, when we think about grommets, our mind might jump to the rubber grommets that organize our desk wires. Grommets, however, go back to the 1800s at least, where they were first documented for use in corset lacing. This reflects another modern day use of the grommet: in a row, they help to hold the tops of our shoes together. It’s likely that the grommet predates even the corset, seeing as how the word itself comes from the French term for “bridle ring,” used for horses.

3. Screws

One of mankind’s most basic construction units, the screw, is often overlooked for its value in the history of hardware. Although there is contention over the exact origins of the screw, most agree that its first definite, known appearance is the 3rd century BC in ancient Greece. By 100 BC, wooden screws had also risen to prominence for their role in oil and wine presses. The screw, identifiable by its helical ridge, has changed little over the centuries, and today it is produced out of multiple materials. Even plastic screws and cap nuts are often used in manufacturing.

Do you know any interesting facts about the history of rubber grommets, screws or locks? Let us know in the comments! Get more info here.

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