Arago: Mailbag Padlocks

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Mailbag Padlocks

Lever pouch padlock

Description:

This is a brass lock with steel shackle developed by Solomon Andrews. The shackle front was stamped "ANDREWS PERTH AMBOY, N. J.," and the back was stamped "PATENT DEC 1840 1856" by the manufacturer. The case front was stamped "U.S. MAIL" in small letters below the keyhole. The lock design and mechanism are as shown in patent number 1,882, which was issued to Solomon Andrews on December 5, 1840.

The case of this lock is similar to a clam shell. It is made of two plates of brass formed to shape by use of a die. The two halves are fitted with the internal mechanism and then joined together with iron rivets. The clam shell design had fewer parts and required fewer steps during manufacturing than other padlocks of the time, and thus the lock could be sold at a lower price. The mechanism uses four to six levers with integral springs that act on a single hook at the end of the shackle.

Solomon Andrews was the primary source of locks for the Post Office Department from 1840 to 1842. The Department also purchased locks from H.C. Jones after 1842. This lock was primarily used to secure mail bags. It was felt that brass locks provided more safety, and so they were usually used for securing registered mail or on longer or more important routes.

Reference:

U.S. Patent office, Patent Number 1,882.

“Postal locks: a primer for the postal lock collector,” J.R. Mundy, 1992.

Date:
1856
Medium:
brass
Dimensions:
Height x Width x Depth: 3 1/8 x 2 5/8 x 1/2 in. (7.94 x 6.67 x 1.27 cm)
Museum ID:
1992.2002.821
Place:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

  • Lever pouch padlock
  • Lever pouch padlock
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