Arago: Mailbag Padlocks

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Mailbag Padlocks

Rotary registry padlock

Description:

A cast, brass registered mail lock developed by the Smith & Egge Company. This lock was used to secure registered mailbags after 1884, replacing a similar cast-brass case lock introduced in 1881.

The lock number on the rear of the case is V 5998, an example that was in use for about twenty years. The flap cover over the rotary number window is missing on this lock. It may have come off during handling. This lock was adjusted to accept a flat key through a keyway on the bottom of the lock. During the month of October 1897, quill-shaped keys for “through” registered mail locks were removed from service. This earlier style had a circular keyway and distinguishes pre-1897 rotary locks from those in use after that year.

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:

U.S. Official Postal Guide, Second Series 19, no. 11 (1897): 9.

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

Date:
c. 1884-1904
Markings:
"U S REG'D MAIL"
Medium:
metal (brass)
Dimensions:
0.25 x 2.19 x 2.62 in (0.64 x 5.56 x 6.67 cm)
Museum ID:
1996.2010.52
Place:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

  • Rotary registry padlock
  • Rotary registry padlock
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