Padlock and Key

Padlock and Key

Masterpiece padlock and key
Southern Germany
Steel
About 1580
Museum no. M.643-1910
Salting Bequest

To become a master locksmith an apprentice had to produce a 'masterpiece'. Here the locksmith demonstrated his skill by creating a robust and secure lock and refining its appearance with delicate etching. Similar patterns decorated other 16th century goods and furnishings, from embroidery to tooled leather. Designs circulated among craftspeople through printed versions on paper and were widely recommended in pattern books.