Diebold Safe & Lock Co., Canton, Ohio, 1894 - through today. Introduction

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The Diebold Safe & Lock Co., first began operations around 1851 as a safe company, and it was not until 1894 that the company introduced its first time lock. Despite having waited so long to to enter the time lock market, Diebold was a keen observer of other companies' time lock research and would go on to parlay its renown in safe making into into confidence in its time locks. With three seventy-two hour modular movements , the first Diebold model was the technical equal of any contemporary, offering unsurpassed reliability and ease of use for its time. The movements were very close in design to the Yale L-sized movement and would be used by Diebold in a number of later models.

Like Yale's triple L and K time locks made during this same period, early Diebold movements were supplied by E. Howard.  However, E. Howard's watch-making portion was taken over by the Keystone watch Case comapany in 1902, and like Yale, Diebold switched to Seth Thomas for its movements. Diebold's pre-1902 E. Howard movements all bear an attribution to Howard, either under the the winding arbor or behind the dial, whereas later Seth Thomas-made movements have no manufacturer's markings.

Diebold is though to have made thousands of the first model, the Type 1, and a few hundred exist today. The Type 3 designed to dog conventional boltwork has a far smaller production run and less than a hundred are thought to survive. (1)

This advertisement from Thomas Brett a sales agent for Diebold, c. 1880 has a decidedly heavy religious, but at the same time humorous theme; invoking Hell complete with Devils that have horns, cloven hooves and tails, and surrounded by fire and brimstone! Look toward the left upper sector of the illustration showing a human displaying his grief over a broken, empty safe and just to drive home the fact that God is there, look at the burning timbers just to his right. There is no mistaking the sign of the Cross. But when one looks at the despondent Devils futile attempts to break open the Diebold safe one just has to smile. Notice some of the implements they tried to use, blasting powder, nitroglycerine, hammers, chisels, pry bars, drill bits and what looks to be some sort of hydraulic device in front of the safe.


Albert Kirks' patent. Notice in the second illustration that the case, excluding the door, is not milled from one piece as is customary in most other time locks, but has the rear section inserted as a separate plate. This distinction was kept by Diebold throughout their production. Kirks was also known for his bolt motor patent which appeared with many Diebold time installations.

The type 1 was developed for use with automatic bolt motors. The Type 3 had a bolt dogging system for use with conventional bolt works. It should be noted that Diebold also used the Type 1 with a slight modification in the attaching apparatus to allow it to also  dog conventional bolt work. An example of this is illustrated below.

In this photo a Type 1 is converted to use as would be a Type 3 to dog conventional bolt works. On the lower right edge of the case one can see a lever which will raise or lower the center vertical rod between the two rectangular cases and which dogs the lever connected to the pair of combination locks. Diebold made relatively few of the Type 3 locks preferring to use this mechanism to apply their Type 1 time locks to directly dog bolt works. The other interesting observation here is the fact that there are winding holes through the time locks glass door. This was not the standard installation. Since the door to the time lock was easily opened with a push of the knob on the right hand door rail, it was expected that the operator would open the door to wind the time lock movements and so the glass would not have winding holes. Furthermore, there are four holes in the outer door glass. This is very curious as an extremely long key would be needed to reach each winding square from the outside of the vault door glass surface, perhaps three or more inches and this author has never seen this configuration in another installation. Apparently the proprietors wanted no access to any of the mechanism from m the employee tasked to wind the time lock.


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(1) American Genius Nineteenth Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, David & John Erroll, p, 280