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Thief-trap lock

LS 3660

Date : End of XVIIth century | Medium : Openwork steel, cut, chiselled and gilded bronze, assembled with rivets, screws and notches; two-bolt lock.

France, Paris


This monumental lock is known as a ‘provost lock’. This name comes from the role it played in stopping thieves: if a false key were introduced, very strong springs released two jaws that clamped the offender’s wrist. This invention is attributed to either Duval or Merlin, two Parisian locksmiths in the late eighteenth century. Here, the keyhole is enhanced by a crown, while on the back, a golden lion’s head hides behind the closed jaws. Parisian novelty merchants sold this type of work in the late eighteenth century.