by Clare Coppa
Its summertimetime for standards developers to drop their test
data and kick off their shoes. While theyre on vacation, ASTM
members might scan bridges for corrosion as they pass in their
fishing boats, or ponder how seaweed on the beach might factor
into biodegradable fuel.
So it follows that ASTM security committee members Robert Loughlin
and Ed Saladin might while away some vacation time on their hobby,
which is, er, lock collecting.
Loughlin has a rare lock that only opens with five unique keys.
Saladin has a spare-tire lock from the roaring 20s, no doubt
owned by a well-heeled driver in a raccoon coat.
Saladin is a locksmith and product engineer for American Lock
Co., Crete, Ill., involved with lock design and quality control.
Loughlin is an entrepreneur from Stanton, N.J., who holds 10 lock
patents and previously co-owned Waterbury Lock and Specialty Company.
As well as designing and collecting, the third part of their lock
trifecta is developing ASTM lock standards.
Some locks in their separate collections are handmade in near-identical
design. Since oceans and continents separated primitive locksmiths
without the connectivity of air travel or Internet, Saladin and
Loughlin theorize that sea-faring conquerors and traders spread
lock patterns all over the world.
Loughlin (pronounced lock lin) has been collecting locks for
27 years. One would think Egyptian kings employed eunuchs with
clubs to protect their goods, but Loughlin says noblemen in 1,000
B.C. used locking devices with keys. He says his best wooden lock
was made in Bolivia from the burl of a very hard wood, a pin-tumbler
door lock perhaps 300-500 years old. Its made on a pattern that
the Spaniards brought to the western hemisphere in 1520, he says.
The Spaniards learned about it from the Romans when they occupied
Spain in 300 A.D. and the Romans learned the concept from the
He likes to search for locks while traveling with his wife Ginny.
In January 2001, an Indian airport official called a guard with
a machine gun when Loughlins carry-on luggage set off an alarm
passing thru X-ray. They laughed when they saw 40 pounds of iron
locks in Loughlins bag.
A mechanical engineer, Loughlins patents include improvements
to locks on Tomahawk Cruise-Missile launchers used by the Navy.
Saladin began collecting locks about 12 years ago because he likes
to study old mechanisms. He owns many smokehouse locks once used
in Appalachia to secure food. I have locks from North America,
Asia, and Africa, he says, a variety of different types, even
some that are made out of wood, which is what the original Egyptian
locks were made out of. Its hard to date them. Linus Yale, who
supposedly invented the pin-tumbler lock, probably got his ideas
from Roman and Egyptian locks.
A certified locksmith and trainer with the Associated Locksmiths
of America, Saladin describes new commercial and residential locks.
Probably the wave of the future is electronic locks, he says.
Electronic locks have come out in the last 10 years that are
part mechanical, part electrical. The more sophisticated ones
leave an audit trail and cross over into access control. So you
know who was in the building and when they left.
Whether theyre locked in or locked out, these collectors have
found the key to a unique personal interest.
Copyright 2002, ASTM