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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 the lock number "H 526" 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. 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
Markings:
U.S. / THRO / REG'D / MAIL 1881 H526
Medium:
metal (brass)
Dimensions:
Height x Width x Depth: 2 3/4 x 2 x 1 in. (6.99 x 5.08 x 2.54 cm)
Museum ID:
1992.2002.893
Place:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

  • Rotary registry padlock
  • Rotary registry padlock
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