Loading Events

Schuyler Towne – The Great Lock Controversy of 1851

Thursday, March 31, 2011
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food and discussion begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone invited.

110 years ago, at the great exhibition of 1851, A.C. Hobbs picked the locks of Bramah and Chubb, two manufacturers the British people thought were perfectly secure. Looking back we find a climate that allowed and even celebrated such bold lockpicking demonstrations. There was a collective excitement and public discourse on physical security that led to innovations we still use today. We’ll explore the events leading up to and following the controversy and tell the story of some of the American engineers who changed the European world’s perception of America forever.


Schuyler Towne is a professional lockpicker who has designed his own line of tools under the Open Locksport brand. Presently he is studying lock development in Europe and the US between 1840 and 1870. Schuyler got his start as a competitive lockpicker 5 years ago, winning half of his head to head matches at the 2006 Dutch Open. Since then he has won the main events at DEFCON in Las Vegas twice, but continues to train in the hope of becoming the first American to win a major international competition.