Europe at war, the 17th Century

Barrel padlocks with swing shackle and ward springs


In the 17th century, the era of King Gustav Vasa in Sweden, barrel padlocks were developed that had swing shackle joints with ward springs. They were often beautifully decorated with reinforcement bands or rings welded on that were decorated with punched or chiseled patterns, as was the lock body. The shackle usually has an elegant curlicue at the transition to the arch. The separate part of the lock, fitted with ward springs, was attached to the lock body with a chain in the early versions.

The Nordic Museum in Stockholm has two such padlocks with swing shackles, dated to 1642 and 1645. Such locks are found in all county museums all over Sweden as well as in private collections. Outside Sweden, this type of lock can be found in the Borgå museum in southwestern Finland, the National Museum in Copenhagen, and in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Barrel padlock with swing shackle, ward springs, and screw lock


Sketch of the screw lock mechanism


Padlocks similar to earlier swing-shackle padlocks with ward springs, but with screw locks.

Similar locks are also found in the Nordic Museum’s collections.

Photos of shield-shaped padlocks


Sketch of shield-shaped padlock


These Renaissance locks with the shape of a shield originate in southern Germany. This type of lock was still in use in the late 19th century, but in a greatly simplified form.

The original locks are made of iron with one, two, or four hinged shackles. They are decorative, large and sturdy, and can weigh from two to nearly five kilograms. The lock housings are flat and were carefully filed, polished, and blued. The shackle or shackles are locked with a spring-loaded bolt, which was turned by a key. In some cases, the keyholes are hidden under flaps. These locks were imported from Germany or manufactured in Sweden by German-trained locksmiths.

This type of locks are found in the Nordic Museum in Stockholm and in collections all around Europe.

Sketch of shield-shaped padlock

A simplified version of a shield-shaped lock as a chest lock in the Bottnaryd Church.


Sketch of a shield-shaped padlock


The museum in Varberg has another example of an iron padlock with the shape of a shield. The notches in the sides of the lock body have been reduced to a single hole on each side.

Sketch of a shield-shaped padlock


The giant lock collection in the Borgå museum in southwestern Finland has a padlock from the mid-18th century with a very simple shield shape. The lock is a combination of a shield lock with a turning key and a Scandinavian Polhem lock with locking discs on the legs of the shackle.