Chubb, Wolverhampton, England

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 Chubb 2mvt (6).JPG (1951018 bytes)

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A. c. late 1960's. This lock is fairly rare as it is a foreign made time lock. While there were many foreign safe and vault makers, the time lock business was dominated by the United States. Chubb was started by Jeremiah and Charles Chubb brothers in 1818 building safes and locks for the financial industry. They began building safes in 1835 in their Wolverhampton factory which is still in existence today (see photos above).

Unlike most of the locks made during the later 20th century, this lock retains many of the quality features found in more vintage locks dating from the early part of the century. The front of the movements look much like Sargent and Greenleaf's with their characteristic wagon wheel dial design. To my knowledge this is the only company to employ a platform escapement mounted horizontally above the movement since its discontinuation by the Consolidated Time Lock Company around 1900. There were some unconfirmed accounts that these movements were originally developed for use on some kinds of munitions during WWII. This could account for their superior quality in relation the contemporary movements of the day.

This model also employs the 'cello style' gravity driven drop bolt, first invented by Sargent in the late 1870's and used by them through the 1950's. It is also the only time like I know of that has a seconds dial indicator. This is in the form of a rotating black and white disk located behind the main dial at the 12 o'clock position. This is necessary as one cannot actually see the balance wheel to verify that the movement is functioning. The movements are robust and well made containing eleven jewels each and were made by Smiths Industries which was later merged into TI Group plc in 2000. 6 7/8"w x 6"h x 2 3/4"d, movement #67 and #88. file 154



B. c. 1970. This is a very rare and early electro-mechanical time lock with a weekly calendar function. The time locks are motor-driven and function individually on the same redundancy principal as conventional mechanical time locks. However this also included a weekly calendar function where the lock could be applied any any single or combination of days. Very few mechanical time locks had this function, the only others that this author knows of is an early experimental lock by Mosler which saw little commercial usage and a lock by the short-lived Stewart company; both in the 1890's. Unlike any other time lock, the Chubb lock is not physically connected to the safe's bolt work whatsoever. The bolt dog is another electro-mechanical device triggered remotely by a signal from the time lock, see electrical connector in photos. This example did not last long and was recalled from the market as it was found to have caused a few lock outs - something that must never happen and is the death knell for any time lock design. Few were made before the recall, and nearly of of the recalled units were destroyed. There is one other example of this lock in the Harry C. Miller lock collection in Nicholasville, Kentucky as well as two others in private collections. 8"w x 7"h x 2.5"d. file 173 


E. Manufactured in the 1970's after the acquisition of Mosler Safe Co. by Chubb. The old Mosler square movement body was abandoned in favor of the 'coffin' style Swiss made movements which now mirror the same body design as those used in the contemporary Yale time locks. Movements marketed in the USA by the Herman D. Steel Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Movement #117017, #117018. 4"w x 3.5"h x 2 1/4"d file 36


The first two photos below show a Diebold safe door from the 1880's with a later retro-fitted Mosler 2 movement time lock made in the 1920's; similar to 'A'. You can see an identical Diebold safe door fitted with its original time lock, a three movement Sargent and Greenleaf. At the time the safe was made, Diebold was strictly a safe and vault manufacturer and did not make their own time locks.

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The Chubb company did not begin to market time locks under their own name until the 1960's. Almost all safe makers - Yale, Diebold, Mosler, Consolidated Banker's Dustproof as well as Chubb did not actually manufacture their own time lock mechanisms. This was subcontracted to a company, experienced in making time movements. In the 19th and early quarter of the 20th century this was most often the E. Howard Company of Boston, Massachusetts. Illinois Watch and Waltham pocket watch movements were also sometimes used. Only Sargent and Greenleaf made their own time locks.

There are several websites devoted to Chubb and his lock company. ,

A few other time lock makers such as Time Masters, Inc., and Sargent and Greenleaf tried to replace the mechanical movements with digital timers. The point of these firms efforts was to eliminate the mechanical watch movements that were integral to all time locks since their introduction in the 1870's. Those movements required regular inspection and maintenance from a skilled person to ensure proper operation to the satisfy the bank's insurance company. But in the end, the electronic devices also require regular maintenance, if for no other reason than the replacement of batteries, let alone the problems associated with electronic component failures much to the chagrin of those same insurance companies. The tried and true designs of the mechanical movement proven over the past 140 years were simply more cost effective than the new approaches and to this day those mechanical time locks controlled by wind up mechanical movements are still in use today.

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