This section is from the book "The Adventurous Life Of A Versatile Artist: Houdini", by Harry Houdini. Also available from Amazon: The Adventurous Life of a Versatile Artist; Houdini.
It used to be the fashion among inventors to challenge the trade and other persons, to pick them.
In some cases, even rewards were offered to any one who could do so.
It is believed that Mr. Joseph Bramah was the first to do this and in 1801, he displayed in his shop window in Piccadily, London, a board to which was attached a padlock, manufactured by himself, and which bore the following inscription:-
"The artist who can make an instrument that will pick or open this lock shall receive 200 guineas the moment it is produced."
In 1832, a Wolverhampton locksmith, having claimed to having picked 18 Chubb locks, Mr. Chubb challenged him to open one of his locks under certain conditions.
Mr. Hart tried and failed, giving the explanation that it was not the regular commercial Chubb lock, but one that had a special bridge ward.
Mr. Chubb replied that Mr. Hart did not pick any lock, but made false keys by a process of cutting blanks.
In America the great lock of Dr. Andrews, in 1841, being heralded as an unpickable lock, with two sets of tumblers, was produced, the inventor offering 500 dollars to any one who could pick this.
It was picked by Pettitt and Hall, of Boston, with what is known as the smoke process.