Lockwood Marches On: Chapter Four, The Independent Lock Co.

Note: The following is a republished excerpt from the Lockwood Hardware Manufacturing Company’s Lockwood – The story of its past, the basis for its future. Published in 1953, and based almost entirely off of literature produced for Lockwood’s 1952 sales convention, it recounts the history of the Lockwood Hardware Manufacturing Company from 1834 until 1952.

By 1953, the Lockwood Hardware Manufacturing Company, then a division of the Independent Lock Company with both being headquartered in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, fielded branch offices in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and Selma, Alabama along with five manufacturing plants in Fitchburg and one in Selma.

We have made no changes to this excerpt and what you see is exactly how it was printed in 1953, albeit in a different medium.

1917. Morris Falk and employees in first Independent Lock Company factory at Leominster, Mass. (Morris Falk, top center)

1917. Morris Falk and employees in first Independent Lock Company factory at Leominster, Mass. (Morris Falk, top center)

Chapter Four, The Independent Lock Co.

THE STORY of the Independent Lock Company is, fire and foremost, the story of a man, Morris Falk, to whom this booklet has been dedicated and whose personal story has been briefly described on page 3. Secondly, it is a story of other men he gathered around him who helped him in carrying out the policies he laid down; courtesy, consideration and fair play. Morris Falk’s word has always been better than a bond.

As previously mentioned, the Independent Lock Company was started because women bobbed their hair. In a small building Independent Lock Company began the manufacture of key blanks. That was its first product and it is an indisputable fact that today the Independent Lock Company makes more key blanks than any other company in the world. Continue reading

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A Glance into Yale History

Note: The following is a republished excerpt from The Yale and Towne Manufacturing Company’s Catalog No. 29. We have made no changes to this excerpt and what you see is exactly how it was printed in 1939, albeit in a different medium.

Linus Yale, Senior

NEARLY a century ago, in the little village of Newport, N.Y., about twelve miles northeast of Utica, the name Yale was first identified with locks. It was there that Linus Yale, Senior, started as a lock maker and produced the Yale Bank Lock, the first of the long and varied line of locks to bear that famous name.

Linus Yale, Senior, had a natural genius for mechanics which he first devoted to originating improvements in various milling devices. Later he turned to designing and making bank locks which, in those days, were of intricate construction and always operated by keys. He also made a number of locks for use on doors, drawers and other places, all of high mechanical excellence. Continue reading

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Locked Up: The History of Handcuffs

From ancient mythology, to modern public safety tools. Symbols of horrific history, to objects of pleasure. These restraints have been used for centuries!

Today, we will provide the captivating details on one of the worlds oldest wearable locks!

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Security Starts at Home

Break-ins. Burglaries. Home invasions. Squatters.

Long gone are the days of not locking the door when you leave your house for the day. Criminals brazenly enter homes that are not theirs, and violate the one place we should always feel safe in.

The fear of having your home invaded by a stranger has lead to many innovations to make it more secure. But do they work?

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Serial Killer Security Goes D.I.Y.

In the early 60s, Americans were introduced to a new kind of crime threat. With cases beginning in Boston and California, police were investigating murders that had striking similarities. Newspapers and television stations would give nicknames to the killers and run them in the headlines, striking fear into the public about who would be next.

Taking home security more seriously than ever before, people began doing whatever it would take to keep themselves safe at night. This included extra locks on every door. But with demand so high, could people get them installed before it was too late?

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The D. B. Cooper Vane

Wednesday, November 24th, 1971. The man wearing a dark suit, sunglasses, and a parachute stood at the back of the Northwest Orient Airlines plane. Steadying himself, he pulled the lever and lowered the rear airstairs on the Boeing 727. A couple minutes later and he was falling towards the ground.

This hijacking spurred hundreds of theories, and changed the way aircraft were secured for decades after.

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Keys to the Caribbean: Pirates and Locks

1718, Nassau, Bahamas. Famed pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, uses his fleet of ships to blockade the settlement. Quickly, those in charge of the colony gave up what valuables they had to spare their lives.

As Blackbeard and other pirates continued to plunder the eastern coast of North America, governors and citizens alike started taking action to protect their money and riches. Little did they know, the pirates were using the same technology to their advantage.
Continue reading

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How Did Medeco Get It’s Name?

Roy Oliver in front of Medeco headquarters, 1977.

Roy Oliver in front of Medeco headquarters, 1977.

In the late 1960s, Medeco essentially started the American high-security lock industry with a revolutionary design incorporating angular key cuts and pins paired with a sidebar. Nearly 60 years later, Medeco’s reputation as a premiere high-security lock manufacturer remains and their products continue to be used throughout state and federal government facilities, hospitals, schools and universities, and commercial properties. But where did the Medeco name come from?

Roy C. Spain, an employee at the Yale Lock and Hardware plant in Salem, Virginia, partnered with Paul A. Powell to form a tool and die company known as the Mechanical Development Company in 1950. Elvis C. Flora and Roy N. Oliver joined the Mechanical Development Company shortly thereafter and, upon learning that Spain had created a prototype of a key that used angular cuts, Flora and Oliver urged Spain to fully develop his lock concept. Spain would eventually leave Yale and devote himself full time to the company and his idea. The group then began producing keys and cylinders for what we now call the “Medeco Original” platform. After initially shopping the Original platform around to other lock manufacturers, the group decided to begin selling it themselves under a new business with a new name: Medeco, taking the first two letters from the original companies’ name.

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The Baker Street Heist

Monday, September 13th, 1971. At the corner of Baker and Marylebone Streets in Westminster, London, the branch manager of Lloyd’s Bank opened the vault at ten in the morning as usual. As the huge door swung away what he saw left him speechless. Chunks of concrete, wrecked safe deposit boxes, jewelry, and more compromising items were strewn across the floor.

Was it really possible that criminals were able to break into a vault with thousands of tons of protection? Or were other elements at work?
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Eugene Blount and the Modern Door Closer

Eugene Blount's "door check".

Eugene Blount’s “door check”.

On July 9, 1889, Eugene Blount, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was issued a patent for his “door check” device. Door checks, or what we now call door closers, are a type of door hardware that controls doors, either by closing them after they have been opened and/or preventing from opening too quickly and with too much force. Door checks had been invented and in use long before Blount’s patent but Blount’s patent is noteworthy because it was the door check designed to utilize a liquid, glycerin in this case, in conjunction with pistons to control a door. This design would ultimately become the basis for the modern day door closer, which uses hydraulic fluid and valves alongside a gear rack and pinion.

Originally patented under the Blount Manufacturing Company name, Eugene would later create the Worcester Blount Door Closer Company to sell his new device. In 1930, the company was sold to the nearby Independent Lock Company (Ilco), who took Blount’s designs and spent the next 2 decades improving them.

Reference Material Links

  • https://patents.google.com/patent/US406621A/
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