Early Returns

The patent fire wasn't a complete loss. In the years following the disaster many patents were recovered in some form or another. The lock patents specifically had only a handful of documents recovered, but those partial records are giving this project a great head start.

For example, the Cambells of Charlsetown, MA were lucky enough to have both a drawing and a description of their lock preserved and even digitized. As best I can tell, however, no transcription of the letters patent existed before now. In the public Zotero library, you can now read the (almost) complete letters patent for this lock. And, with a drawing and description, we can actually understand how the lock was meant to function.


Posted 05-05-2013

Remarks on the Unremarkable

In discussing the early history of lock manufacturing in America, we necessarily focus on Stansbury, Yale, Sargent and a very few others. These were the men who advanced the art and paved the way to the future of mechanical security and are rightly the subject of most of our attention. I'd like to cast a light, though, on one of the first families of American lock making. Theirs is a story of great promise that is time after time undercut by poor luck, bad business and a failure to adapt.

Thomas Pye arrived in the United States sometime between 1793 and 1795, bringing with him his family, some funds to establish himself and an expertise in the most modern British lock making techniques. He established a factory in New York City where he crafted beautiful, hand made locks. He very quickly found steady business in the new world and enjoyed his success even more when his sons, Simeon, William and Thomas Jr. began to learn the trade. He raised them to be locksmiths and taught them the best of what he knew. While Thomas Jr. found his own way, both Simeon and William joined the family business.


Posted 08-22-2014