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Mailbag Padlocks

Rotary registry padlock

Description:

Cast, brass registered mail lock developed by the Smith & Egge Company. The shackle is stamped "STANDARD 1881” on the front and "A_1_" on the back. "STANDARD 1881" refers to the lock’s keying. This rotary lock used a standard key issued to post offices and Railway Mail Service employees handling domestic registered mail. The A_1_ marking indicates that this was the first of the series, preserved as a specimen for the Post Office Department's equipment display. Each registered mail lock of this style was referred to by its serial number as well as the four-digit rotary number that appeared in a side window (covered by a brass flap in this example).

This lock accepted a quill-style key and has a round keyway on the bottom of the lock. It was used until 1884 when it was replaced by a similar cast-brass case lock that had "U S / REG'D / MAIL" in raised letters.

The Smith and Egge Company originated in response to a Post Office Department advertisement for new mailbox locks in 1873. Bridgeport, Connecticut manufacturers William Smith and Frederick Egge successfully won the contract with their collaborated design of a lock and key system. The company won a second postal contract in 1878 and continued to produce locks for the Department over the next twenty years.

References:

Mundy, James. R. Postal Locks. (Eaton, OH: 1995 [revised]), 59.

Waldo, George Curtis. History of Bridgeport and Vicinity. (S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1917), 21.

Date:
1881
Medium:
metal (brass)
Dimensions:
2.62 x 2 x 1.25 in (6.67 x 5.08 x 3.18 cm)
Museum ID:
1992.2002.826
Place:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

  • Rotary registry padlock
  • Side view
  • Rotary registry padlock
  • Rotary registry padlock
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