Mosler Safe Company, Hamilton, Ohio - 3 movements, Interim with Yale-'R' movements, Type 1

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Mosler ran into supply problems upon the startup of its time lock production in 1916. Demand for their product exceeded their expectations and Illinois Watch Co., was not able to supply sufficient movements. So for a few months Mosler turned to Yale which had a contractual supply of movements from Seth Thomas at the time. Seth Thomas made the spur gear modification enabling the dial to turn clockwise when running and allowing this movement along with a mount modification to fit and operate correctly within the movement plate designed for the rectangular Mosler-designed movements. It is unknown if Mosler made the case, mounts and other components for the time lock, but since they were safe makers they certainly had the machining facilities to do so. Once Illinois Watch Co. had sufficient supply, Mosler stopped using the Seth Thomas movements and had, in fact, an active campaign to replace those movements with the Mosler-designed movements; needing only a simple swap out. After all, having a Yale product name was probably not the ideal situation for Mosler. Indeed, it is interesting that Yale helped Mosler out here since they were competitors in the time lock business. It is also interesting that Mosler did not request Seth Thomas to leave the Yale logo off the dial work. Perhaps that was a condition of Yale's help in this matter. In any event, these early modified locks are very rare. This author only knows of one other two movement Mosler with this same modification. It was thought that the case numbering for the three movement model began at 4000, however this example has a lower number, 3738. Perhaps this starting number assumption is in error.

The first thing to notice is the Yale movements in this very early Mosler time lock. These are NOT aftermarket replacements.

The 'coffin' shaped Seth Thomas movements each have a specially designed mount to allow that shape to fit within the rectangular mounting plate that was designed for the regular Mosler movements.


In the first photo the mounting plate is removed and to the right is the conversion frame that allows the Yale coffin movement to mount within the Mosler-designed mounting plate. The Yale and a standard Mosler movement is shown side-by-side. The second photo shows the standard Mosler movement positioned into the the mounting plate showing a perfect match in both fit and functionality.


The first photo shows the additional spur gear added to the standard Yale movement. This allowed the dial to rotate clockwise as the movement operated and the pin mounted on the dial face pushed on the snubber bar lever which in turn actuated the snubber bar to move to the right (arrow). All regular movements made for Yale did not have this extra gear and so their dials rotated counterclockwise. This change was necessary since Mosler had designed their locks to operate with a counterclockwise rotating dial. Each Yale-modified movement had a special designation with the letter 'R' after the serial number, the one in this photo is #1250-R. This was done to prevent any mistake between Yale's regular movements and these specially modified types because they were identical in all other respects an could easily be installed by mistake into a regular Yale time lock causing it to malfunction.

By the twentieth century, banks in major metropolitan centers were constructing some of the largest vaults ever made. Among a few safe and vault companies able to install such a massive undertaking was the Mosler Safe Co. Mosler was the result of a series of  of consolidations of earlier companies, such as Mosler Safe & Lock Co., Mosler Bahmann, and possibly Bankers Dustproof Time Lock Co., Bankers Dustproof was the time lock subsidiary of the Victor Safe & Lock Company, and although Victor Safe and Lock continued in business until approximately 1930, Bankers Dustproof disappeared as a brand in 1915. This coincided with the 1916 appearance of Mosler time locks based on designs very similar to those of Bankers Dustproof, using the same seventy-two hour 18-size pocket watch movements of the Illinois Watch Co., (see video below). Changes in design included a larger dial with a geared winding arbor, reduced decoration, modified dial numbering, and some rare 120-hour models.


A. 1916, Case with first generation case design featuring a gold plated crackle finish. Time lock equipped with specially designed Seth Thomas movements made under contract to Yale and mounted into custom inserts allowing those movements to fit and function within the movement plate originally designed by Mosler to fit the Mosler-designed movements made by the Illinois Watch Co. This modification lasted a few months and when Mosler had sufficient supply of their own movements, actively replaced the Yale-badge movements making any survivors exceptionally rare. 6"w x 5"h x 3"d. Case #3738, consecutive movements #51248-R, #51249-R, #51250-R. file 240


B. c. 1916. This is an early example from the Mosler Safe Company. It should is not to be confused with Mosler Safe and Lock Co. which was a different company but still connected with the Mosler family and produced two models in 1887 after their purchase of the patent rights from Beard & Brother that same year. Mosler Safe Company's first offering was a four movement model that featured this same gold-plated door with a crackle jewelling finish. The three movement was introduced around the same time. This feature was used only for one year and by 1917 was replaced with a less expensive smooth bronze finish similar to that of the three movement in example C. Unlike the earlier incarnation of this company, the Mosler Safe Company used production pocket watch movements bought from other watch suppliers. This author knows of three movement suppliers that were used throughout the life of the company until it was sold by the founding family in 1967 to American Standard Companies. The first type used was an 18 size Model #4 movement supplied by the Illinois Watch Co., Springfield, Illinois and is illustrated above. Waltham Watch Company, Waltham, Massachusetts using their size 16 movement was substituted in 1933 after the Hamilton watch Company took over Illinois Watch Co. Sometime in the 1950's Mosler turned to the Recta brand of watch movement made by Muller and Vaucher, Switzerland and continued with this until production ceased in 1967. Around this time Mosler as well as most US time lock makers had turned to Swiss imports.

No production records exist for this model of Mosler time lock, but it is thought that about a hundred were made. The case numbering appears to have been initiated at #4000. It is unknown how many, other than this example survive. 6"w x5"h x 2 3/4"d. Case#4080. file 147


c. 1917. Around 1902 with the sale of E. Howard & Co. to the Keystone Watch Case Company, E. Howard exited the time lock business. Therefore, the time lock companies that used E. Howard shifted to Seth Thomas movements. Mosler, however, did not begin manufacture until 1915 and chose 18-size Model #4 pocket watch movements supplied by the Illinois Watch Company. The movements had a separate crystal covering the watch movements much like on a conventional pocket watch providing exceptional protection from contamination compared to other time lock movements. Bankers Dustproof Time Lock Co. was another company that used movements supplied by Illinois Watch Company. This was probably not coincidental since Banker's disappeared as a brand in 1915 and Mosler Safe Co. appeared in 1916 based on designs very similar to that of Bankers. After 1932 Mosler switched to American Waltham Co. 16-size pocket watch movements. Mosler Safe Co. was the result of a series of consolidations of earlier companies including Mosler Safe and Lock Co., Mosler Bahmann and Bankers Dustproof Time Lock Co. That company emerged in 1917. In addition to the protection given the watch movements by a glass crystal fitted over them, the movements can be wound without having to open the door by sliding the lever to open the winding holes. These features result in Mosler movements being some of the best in surviving condition . This lock as well as the example above dogged the bolt work via a lever attached to a right hand lever located on the outside of the case to the right. In the first year of production the case had the crackle finish door with satin bronze sides. By 1917 the door was changed to the same satin bronze finish as the sides, but this design was short-lived and only lasted a few months making this a fairly rare example. That year Mosler replaced the satin bronze with a satin nickel finish which remained until the change to the plastic front cases beginning in the 1950's. Case #6427. file 115

Below are two Mosler vaults with a Mosler triple movement time lock similar to 'B' but in a brushed silver finish. However this model dogged the bolt work in the more conventional fashion by blocking the release bolt directly through a hole in the side of the lock. The three movement size was appropriate on the first square door, but one might expect that a large round vault door as depicted below would have had a four movement lock. Although the need for one was superfluous. The probability of a three movement lock failing was as vanishingly small as a four, and there was no greater need for the pulling power of an extra movement to release the bolt work. However, a four movement lock would have 'looked right' to provide the appropriate drama suited to the door and would have been the correct size. This was pure aesthetics and marketing as historically was much of the time lock as well as the safe and vault business, as well as the architectural design of bank buildings - all to convey solid, safe and dependable imagery.


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