Beard & Brother, St. Louis, Missouri, Type 1

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Little is known about the St. Louis, Missouri, firm of Beard & Bro., a safe making firm of G. N. and E. J. Beard that produced its first time lock in 1878. Beard & Bro. employee Phinneas King secured his first time lock patent in February 1878 for a design based around an unusual gravity bolt that extended vertically through the top of the case. King's patent prototype was a full-featured lock with an industry leading ninety-six hour movement and a calendar mechanism. However, this model was never produced, probably due to prohibitive cost projections considering Beard Bros. eventual advertisement of its time lock as the "Best and Cheapest on the Market," according to their letterhead of 1880.

The first time lock that Beard did produce drew in part on King's original patent but was based primarily on a second patent of March 1878 (see below). This Beard Type 1 time lock uses two carriage clock movements with platform escapements visible through the two round case-top windows. The plates and platforms are silver plate, an incongruous extravagance for a lock advertised on price. Most likely these were the ones Beard could get that would do the job. The case is plain nickel-plated bronze with rectangular door glass. It is not known how many of the Beard Type 1 were made, but it is thought to have been in production a short time before being replaced by Beard's Type 2. This is the only known surviving example of the Beard Type 1, shown here, and was found in a shed in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in 1998 and has been restored to presentable condition. (1)

The pair of carriage clock movements is clearly visible here. The serial numbers are 4024 and 4025. The central toothed wheel behind the dial connects to both time lock movements, and while each movement can independently rotate the pointers thus operating the time lock independent of each other, providing the required redundancy, should the central wheel lock up, both time movements would be jammed resulting in a lockout. In addition the secondary safety as represented by the cam on the right movement's winding arbor would also be defeated. This flaw was recognized early on and the Type 2 was introduced to eliminate this danger. It is likely that whatever unassembled locks that remained were discarded in favor of the new design thus limiting the actual production of the Type 1 to just a few locks. The Type 2 also used a new movement produced by E. Howard Co., the leading time lock as well as watch maker of the day, and that movement was superior to those found in the Type 1. It is also possible Beard would have offered a swap out of the Type 1 for the Type 2 to protect their reputation resulting in this single known example.


Both movements are no doubt "off the shelf" types that were originally made to operate as a small carriage clock. Beard simply used the hour arbor in the center where normally the dial hands would be located to mount the cog to drive the time lock dial. No other time lock this author has seen has pinned plates and the fancy French-style winding ratchets. In the second photo one can see the movement arrangement is 100% conventional clock design and arrangement. Notice the turned pillars, unnecessary in a time lock movement hidden in a case, but carriage clocks had glass sides to show this feature as well as the silver plated plates.


Further evidence for the movements being bought in from a conventional clock supply house are the threaded holes in the bottom pillars. These are superfluous here since the movements are secured to the case from the rear. But they were needed in the carriage clock case for which they were originally designed. The next photo shows the numbered designations for the placement of the movements within the case. The movements have s/n on the front plates of 4024 and 4025, rear plates 24 and 25. The designations on the case back are 24 and 25. The center s/n is 3 which is the same as on the case door as well as many of the components that Beard added to the front of the carriage movements to create the time lock. It appears that Beard took the s/n imprinted on the movements they bought in for the s/n imprinted on the case back, or maybe the movement numbers began from the movement firm at 4000.



In this patent one sees many of the components present in the Type 1.

Type 1. 1878. First time lock produced this company it is thought that movements for twenty-five locks may have been ordered, but it is uncertain how many were actually assembled before being quickly replaced by their Type 2 correcting for a potential lockout flaw present in this model. This is the same example as illustrated in John Erroll's book. 5 3/4"w x 4 1/2"h x 2 5/8"d. Case #3, movements #24, #25. file 197

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(1) American Genius Nineteenth Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, David Erroll & John Erroll, pp 204-205.