Sargent & Greenleaf, Rochester, New York - 1874 through today. Introduction
The article below relies to a great extent from information derived from
American Genius, Nineteenth Century Bank Locks and Time
Locks, by John and David Erroll.
James Sargent organized
Sargent and Greenleaf (S&G) in 1865 specializing in safe locks. S&G introduced the first large-scale, commercially produced time
lock in 1874 the Model 2. Their model 1 was made in limited numbers and was a
combined combination and time lock with the time lock operating directly on the
combination lock by blocking the combination lock's fence from functioning while
the time lock was on guard. Most other makers with the exception of the Hall
Safe & Lock Co. which was later reconstituted as the Consolidated Time Lock
Company performed their duties by operating on the safe's bolt work rather than
the combination lock. Their first stand alone time lock, the Model 2 was
introduced concurrently with the Model 1.
It contained the same two movement module as in the Model 1, but without the
combination mechanism. Instead it operated by blocking, also called 'dogging'
the safe's bolt work. This was a commercial success with four different versions
introduced using the original roller bolt
dogging device. The fourth version sold
between 150-200 units. In 1877 S&G
introduced a major innovation in their bolt
dogging design called the "cello bolt"
because of the resemblance to that
instrument. Later the term 'drop bolt' took
hold because the redesign of that part in
1877 with the introduction of their Model 3
time lock ended the visual similarity but
the part still, as before, dropped to
the bottom of the case when the time lock
went off guard. Altogether from 1874 through
1927 the model 2 went through fifteen design
revisions, all of them, other than the
introduction of the cello bolt , minor in
nature. Production numbers are unknown but
must have gone into the many hundreds to
perhaps a thousand. A couple of hundred or
so of the Model 2 survive.
This invention was the answer to the
banker's dilemma. While at first there was
some concern about the owner being denied
access to his own property, that rapidly
gave way to the safety concern. Robbers in
the late 1860's and early 1870's turned to
what was called at the time the "masked
robbery" where the robber would kidnap after
hours the person who had the combination and
take him to the bank to open the safe.
Obviously this was a perilous personal as
well as financial situation for the owner
Furthermore the sharing of the combination
with other employees was not as great a risk
when they could not return at night to open
One must remember that this was before the time of effective alarm systems
let alone central automatic alarm systems electronically connected to law
enforcement and this was especially true in the smaller towns. The safe was
all there was between the robber and the contents, except of course, the
person who had the combination. The time lock concept proved to be immensely popular and profitable. The
people the time lock protected were generally wealthy and prominent and could
afford the large margins enjoyed by the time lock manufacturers. For example in
1874 S&G charged about $400 for their Model 2 time lock. When Yale introduced in
1875 their Model 1 it too was about $400 and $450 with their optional Sunday
Attachment™ which was introduced in 1878. No information is available for
the wholesale cost of S&G movements since they were made in-house, but a
Yale Model 1 wholesale and when delivered by the E. Howard Watch Company in
1885 was $50.00. This is a 9 times or 900% markup! Just to put this into
perspective $450 in 1874 is worth approximately $9,000 in 2016. The price of a time lock could cost as much as the entire safe
into which it was installed. This gives the reader the great value that the
owners gave to this new technological innovation.
But this is not the only reason. Yale Lock Manufacturing Co. was their
largest competitor and in 1877 these two companies colluded to dominate the
market. This was many years before the concerns with corporate domination
and price fixing through collusion and trusts resulted in the Sherman
Anti-Trust Act of 1890. To drive home the point, below is a reproduction of
a joint catalog released by S&G and Yale in 1883. They readily show their
wares side by side and, not coincidentally, the pricing is identical for
time locks that would otherwise be in competition! Look carefully at the
illustration of the Yale No. 1, it is upside-down, reminiscent of the famous
postage stamp the 'Inverted Jenny'. One can easily see how the catalog
printer mistakenly looked at the S&G illustration seeing the two dials at
the top and then applied the same thinking to the Yale time lock. The
catalog has an insert showing the corrected depiction.
The first patent drawing is the earliest I have found for a S&G time lock.
Here on can see the development of the rollerbolt and drop lever. Notice the
additional piece that protrudes through the bottom of the case and prevents
the rollerbolt from rotating into the off guard position as long as the
correct combination has not been dialed in, this 'dual custody' feature was
never incorporated into any future S&G time lock. The second drawing is from
a patent dated July 20, 1875 and shows a dual movement time lock of a very
different configuration with the rollerbolt directly in the middle and below
the two movements instead of off to the right, than that which was produced.
This model used a spring loaded rollerbolt rather than relying on gravity
for the bolt's rotation. No example of this time has been seen.
This illustration is from December 16, 1875. It shows nearly how the
production Model #2 time lock looked mounted to the safe door. Notice the
use of the rollerbolt in both the combination and time locks. Clearly
Sargent used the same design from his combination lock for use in the time
lock. However, while both were used to dog the boltwork, the rollerbolt as
used in the combination lock was to isolate the wheel pack from the lateral
pressure of the door bolt , ensuring that the bolt handle cannot be used to
pressure the tumblers and give away their position. There were no tumblers
in the time lock. When both were simultaneously aligned with the door
boltwork, the bolt could be moved into the two recesses and the safe door
A comment from this author on the movement of the time lock. The
extensive skeletonizing of the front movement plate has been illustrated in
some of the company's advertisements, but this style has never been observed
in fact. This extensive fretting of the plate would make it more prone to
violence of percussion or explosion and the first few production models did
have some cutout design around the central section and under the two dials
which was replaced a few years later with a solid plate for these reasons.
Below I will explore the various design features and other information that
would be interesting from a collector's perspective.
S&G 1874 and the present day:
These two photos show the earliest known example of S&G's Model 2 version 1, 1874,
case and movement #40 and a contemporary offering, Model 6370. S&G is the only surviving maker from
the beginning of the time lock industry. Below I will go through some of the
characteristics of the S&G line of time locks and their changes through time.
The first to be considered are the early models. Model 1 was made in so few
numbers that it will not be shown. It should be noted that the Model 1, 2, 3 and
4, were all introduced between 1874 and 1878 and so the evolution in case,
movement and bolt decoration ran fairly concurrently across these models.
Production of the Model 2 through Model 4 continued until 1929 when the great
Depression brought all new bank building and business in general and thus the
demand for time locks of all models to a halt.
The first photo is a Model 3, c.1881 and next a Model 4, c.1888 each a solid
door version of their time locks having what is called a 'coin vault' door. This
style was used in safes where a coin bag could otherwise smash the glass of a
time lock when the door was accidentally closed against the coin bag. Displayed
are the two styles of decoration S&G used on the surface of their early cases, prior to 1910 and generally ending by 1924 when this style became
available only by special order. The repeating 'spotted
pattern' on the left is their more common design. The second is the 'crystalline'
style and is also displayed on the example of the Model 2 above. However, the
surface is actually much more complex than what is normally referred to as
damascene. In the 18th century through today a damascene is pattern applied through a milling
process into a smooth surface to create a repeating pattern.
These photos show a close up of both patterns. In the first, one can see
S&G produced their
surface design through the pattern beingraised from the surface. Also it's easy to see that even in the repeating spotted pattern the spots
are not identical as would be expected with a conventional rotating tool being
used to create a repeated pattern on the surface of the metal. The second shows
the feathering pattern which looks a lot like the type of crystalline growth one
would see from moisture freezing on a window during a cold winter day. This
pattern too israised from the surfaceand so is referred to as
jewelling rather than damascene. Afterward the
case was plated in gold. The gold plating became an up-charge option by the late 1880's But the jeweled surface continued until
around 1900 when other finishes, most notably the satin nickel finish, began to
replace the jeweled case and accelerated after
WWI when it was discontinued with the gaining popularity of art-deco in safe design. This author has not yet been able to discover how S&G made this jewelling.
After 1924 all cases were offered in the satin nickel finish, see below under
movement and case sizes. There also was a custom option for a satin bronze
finish but these were never popular and few were made. But it seems that few,
if any, of
the Model 2 through Model 4 were made in these other finishes.
Back plate and drop bolt decoration and dial
Both photos are examples of the Model 4. c.1887 and a later production issue
from around the 1920's. Note the total lack of decoration on the snubber
lever, dog and drop bolt by this time. When the Model 4 was introduced in 1878
the engraved ivy leaf design on the top movement plate had already been
discontinued, however a few of the first Model 3's introduced in 1877 did have
this feature. The first example shown here has case #1690 and movement #1685, the
second, case #3465 and movement #4933, the movement probably a later
replacement. The elimination of decoration appears to have been gradual with the
ivy pattern eliminated first and then the logo plaque from both the drop bolt
and back decorative plates. Note the company names on the dials. Prior to 1896
there was no attribution. In 1896 the dials displayed "Sargent & Greenleaf
Company" as seen on the left photo and this was changed in 1918 to "Sargent &
Greenleaf, Inc." after its reorganization into a stock company, on the right.
These markers are helpful in identifying proximate ages.
Another example of early and later snubber bar, drop bolt and rear plate design work. The
first seems to have been purposely made to bring visual interest. Here we have
brass movements mounted in a satin case with full decorative snubber bar and
bi-colored drop bolts on a Model Triple B v.2, case #84, movements #663, #664, #665.
If one looks carefully the case interior door still retains the original
jewelling. What we have here is a customer who wanted to 'update' his case from
a gold jeweled case to a satin finish. The case number and movement numbers are
surely OEM. The movements are consecutive and early as is the case number and so
was surely made with the original gold jeweled case.
Unlike the earlier time locks with integrated movements it is impossible for the
case and movement numbers to not diverge as time went on since the case had one
number for every three movement numbers. Also these movements were being used
across the S&G line for automatics and later four movement time locks. So the
number of movements far outstripped any serial number on the case as time went
on. When one sees an S&G lock of any model that has a case and movement set that
is somewhat close in number, it is an early example of that model's run. As time
went on and with the introduction of four movements locks, the
divergence of the serial number in say a Model O that had 'L' sized movements
that had been used in the Model Triple A, B, and C for a number of years cannot
be close. Here one must look to the consecutive numbering of the movements to
ascertain originality. The second photo shows a much
later example of the Triple B v.3 with 120 hour movements dating this to the later 1920's.
Note the complete lack of engraved decoration.
Movement plate decoration:
The very earliest Model 2 and 3 movements had decorative ivy leaf engraving on
the movement top plate and dial wheel arms. This was only done by the firm for
the first three years of production. There may be a dozen examples of the
engraved front plate design extant. The second photo shows the same movement
plate without decoration. The first photo is a Model 2 v.1, 1874, the second a
Model 2 v.4., 1876 Both still retain the fully skeletonized top plate showing
the wheel work and escapement. This changed by Model 2 v.11 in 1886 to resist
derangement from explosion.
Also the dials themselves began to be secured by screws rather than fixed to
their arbors making maintenance and adjustment easier. S&G switched from the
black background dial format to white in 1877. Note the dial on the left has 48
hours with the one on the right has 46. The very first few time locks produced
by S&G in 1874 had dials to 48 hours. However after these were made it was
discovered that the movements did not have enough power in the springs to go for
the full 48 hours. So S&G sent a circular to the few Banks that had already
installed the time lock warning them to only wind the movement up to 46 hours.
The movements that had already been made had their dials swapped out to the 46
duration format before sale and for those that were already installed, S&G would
as a part of their routine annual maintenance swap out the 48 dials for the 46
hour dial. Therefore, very few time locks were left with the original 48 dials
This difference is what makes this a Model 2 v.1. Two examples are known. S&G
never did introduce a 48 dial in their Model 2, but did introduce a 66 hour
version in 1878 to compete with Yale's optional Sunday Attachment
By 1886 the 72 hour duration became the industry
standard and a 72 hour version of the Model 2 was introduced that year. This is
another marker one can use to estimate age of a movement. However, there were
some infrequent cases where a lock was returned to the factory to be retrofitted
with longer duration movements. Sometime this was done within the original
movement plate and so the numbers may match up between movement and case but are
too early to have been made when the up dated features first appeared. In other
cases the movements were swapped out and here the mismatched case and movement
numbers will be obvious.
Movement design, Integrated movements:
Model 2 movement. Both movements are integrated into to a single front and rear
movement plate requiring disassembly of both movements even if only one was
Model 3A and Model 4. In the Model 3A, left, one sees the continuation of the
single movement plate for both movements. This example was the Model 3 adapted
for use with automatic bolt motors, so the drop bolt below is replaced with the
drop lever dog serving to trigger the motor. In 1878 S&G introduced the
Model 4 and here we see a split front plate for the time lock movement. The rear
plate is still a single plate, but at least this allows for the servicing of one
movement at a time. This is the beginnings of designs toward easier maintenance
allowing for each movement to be independently disassembled. It still does not
allow for interchangeability. It is interesting to note that even after the
introduction of the modular movement in the S&G line in 1888, the company never
saw the need to have a two movement modular model. They only applied that design
to their three and four movement time locks. Whereas all of the other makers
eventually did introduce a two movement modular design.
The early entrants into the industry, S&G and Yale immediately saw the need for
redundancy in their time locks. There were two independent movements of which
only one was needed to put the lock off guard and allow the owner to dial in the
combination to open the safe. Hall and later Consolidated was the exception with
their single movement offerings where they had elaborate override systems to
compensate for the obvious problem of a lockout from a single movement. They
attempted to gain market share by offering a less expensive alternative with
only one movement vs. the two offered by S&G and Yale. This was met with limited
success . However all makers who had two redundant movements (and only two were
offered at this time) fabricated these upon a single movement plate. So if one
movement was malfunctioning, the entire mechanism containing both movements had
to be removed for servicing leaving the owner unprotected. My guess is that this
was a rare event. Probably a normal clean and servicing would be performed 'on
the spot' by the service tech. This would require that the tech be a
professionally trained person with all the equipment on site to do the job. I
have done this work, and it is not easy to do a complete overhaul of a time lock
mechanism even at my bench where I have all the comforts of home let alone in a
satellite location. If there was a major problem like a cracked jewel or if the
tech made an error causing the balance wheel hairspring to be deformed by
mishandling, the owner would be left unprotected since at this time there was no
ability to interchange these combined movements between locks. The advent of the
Model 4 allowed a limited ability for the owner to continue protection while one
movement was being serviced. However, my guess is rarely was this necessary. The
tech was able to service the movements in a timely fashion. Remember the
incredible fees charged for this service so one would expect that the time lock
would be serviced and put into running condition on the spot, (see A Brief
History to the Time Lock Industry in this web site). By the mid 1890's the
entire mechanism containing the pair of movements could be swapped out and if
one sees a case serial number with a very large difference between it and the
movement number on the Model 2, 3, or 4, then one can assume the movement was
swapped out at some point.
Introduction of modular movements:
S&G also first popularized the modular movement. This photo shows a very early
Triple A, case #46
and movements with S&G 'L' sized movements #199, #200, #201, made in 1889 making
this the earliest Triple A known. Again they were not the first, Amos Holbrook did
this in 1858, and Yale introduced modular movements in the form of separate
Waltham watch movements in their Type B movement introduced in 1888. However the
former made only a handful of time locks and so had no impact on the trajectory
of the design in the market and in Yale's design it was very difficult to
actually remove and replace the movements and required a major disassembly of
the lock to accomplish this. S&G introduced the first easily individually
removable movements in their Model Triple A, B, and C in 1889. At this time the
movements were still not fully interchangeable, they still had to be
replaced in the same order they were removed. If the maintenance person saw a
movement that needed attention it would be removed for off-site service and the
remaining two employed to keep the lock functioning. A slightly greater risk of
lockout but still not by much. True interchangeability where a technician could
simply arrive with a movement of the same model as the malfunctioning one and
could do a simple swap out did not happen until 1895. Why this took so long is a
mystery to me since the advantages are obvious and there seems to be no real
technical reasons to prevent this. No longer would a customer have
to be with a lesser dependable time lock while the movement was serviced. Still
it was a huge improvement over the earlier integrated movements. Note the
construction of the snubber bar here and in the photo below the earliest
examples had separate dial lever pieces attached to the horizontal slide bar.
This was quickly changed to a single piece to avoid the possibility of the dial
levers breaking off in the case of explosion leading to a lockout. Less than
five examples are known to have this pre-integrated design.
These photos show the earliest modular but not yet interchangeable movements in
the Triple A from 1889 and a later Model O quad movement (later denoted 6403)
from c. 1910 with fully interchangeable movements. The Triple A operates on an
automatic bolt motor, in this case a Burton Harris. Automatic systems eliminated
the need for manually operated bolt works, the handle that one would crank after
the correct combination was dialed in. The advantage to this design was the fact
that one less opening, and thereby way for a safe cracker to enter, was
eliminated from the door. The disadvantage is expense and further complexity and
the fact that the bolts had to be pretty violently shot open and closed. If
there is some problems with friction like corrosion or or issue, one can feel
the resistance when manually operating the bolt work. But with the automatic,
the powerful springs take over and if the jam is bad enough, the bolt motor may
not be able to withdraw the bolts. Like any consumer product, safe design went
through different styles and popularities. Manual bolt work was the first type
available. Automatics gained popularity in the 1880's with the rise of the time
lock, without which the automatic system could not operate. After the 1920's the
automatic began to fall out of favor and the manual bolt work became dominant
again. The second photo shows a the bolt dogging work below the four movements
and this was used on manually bolt actuated safes. The original cello bolt shape
has morphed into a long shape, but the principal remains the same. Larger safes
and especially walk in vaults used manually operated bolt work as the size and
number of bolts precluded the use of a spring operated device to move them.
There was a report issued to the Secretary of the Treasury titled
Improving Vault Facilities of the Treasury Department,
and circulated to the 53rd Congress in 1893. It makes for fascinating reading
where in text and numerous photos many of the popular models of safes of the day
were systematically broken into. Nitroglycerine could be used upon the seem of a
door jam so no hole need be in the door whatsoever. The most interesting is a
manual drilling device that could cut a 4" hole through the side of a safe in
less than two hours! These are tools only the most sophisticated burglar would
have, but it proves the fact that no safe is "safe"!
At this juncture there needs to be some clarification about what exactly
interchangeability meant in the 19th century. Interchangeability of the
individual movements did not extend to the individual components of the time
lock mechanism and especially the components within the movements themselves.
The term interchangeable tends to imply the ability to assemble a
mechanism typewriter, watch, clock or firearm, from a supply of parts chosen at
random. In fact, every nineteenth-century manufacturer of complex mechanisms
designed those mechanisms to be adjusted at the time of assembly. Thus the
interchangeable parts were interchangeable but only to the degree
necessary; the degree of interchangeability was stipulated by the design of the
product. The proof of this is the fact that nearly all time lock makers use
consistent numbering systems for their components. For example a case may be
stamped 393 and if so then the door, drop bolt and snubber bar assemblies will
also be marked with the same number. Movements were also individually numbered
and the numbering was consistent through the escapement assemblies, i.e., the
balance wheel, balance cock, and lever escapement. This numbering system was
followed by S&G until they stopped making their movements in-house and
subcontracted their product to foreign manufacture in the 1950's. S&G was
nearly unique in the industry in making their entire time lock, including the
movements in house. Because of this the case numbering and movement numbers,
especially early on in each of the model production runs were closely related.
Multi movement locks would be consecutively numbered. Because of this it is
easier for the collector to ascertain originality of the entire S&G lock than it
is in many other companies. Proof of full interchangeability with respect to the
movements is the fact that most time locks seen in the collector's market today
do not have consecutive serial numbers as they have had their movements swapped
out during their time of service. the Model O above has a potpourri of serial
numbers for the 'L' sized
movements #15054, #10615, #12171, #13175. This indicates that this time lock has
a long service life to have had so many movements changed out spanning nearly
2000 serial numbers. Consecutive numbers are always more desirable and
usually indicate a lock that was in service a much shorter period of time.
Drop bolt design:
These two examples show the first roller bolt design, left and the cello
bolt, right. Both are in the off guard positions where the safe's bolt work
could slide into the recess afforded by the round bolt and the area above
the cello bolt. The roller bolt needed a special adaptor to operate whereas
the cello bolt with its two step articulated design could operate on a
simple, straight bolt through the hole in the side of the time lock case,
see video demo below, and this was introduced, photo left, in 1877 in version 6. Model #2 v.2, 1874, case and movement #129.
Right photo, Model #2, v.11, c.1886, case #1087, movement #1094. By this time
production had reached higher levels and the movement and case numbers may
not have been identical coming from the factory, but in this instance close
enough to assume the case and movement are original to each other. The ivy
and leaf engraving on the front movement plate and dial spokes disappeared
after version two in 1877. The
plaque on the cello bolt has inscribed " Sargent & Greenleaf,
Rochester, N.Y. Patented July 20, 1875, Aug. 2, 1877, Sept. Sept. 7, 1877 Nov. 13, 1877."
These patent dates would begin to appear in 1877 on many of their products.
This coincides with the accelerated patent litigation S&G and Yale engaged
in with their competition. The company began using white dials on their product line in 1878.
Notice the skeletonizing of the movement plate under the dial work in the
earlier lock. By version 11 in 1886 the plates lost most of the cutout
perhaps a nod towards making the movement more resistant to explosion.
In 1877 S&G introduced the Model 3. The low profile drop bolt was introduced
and lost its similarity in look to the cello. This allowed the lock to fit
into a greater number of safes with tighter bolt works. This version with
slight modifications would be the bolt design for the entire S&G line that
used a drop bolt until well after WWII. The early models still had the ivy
leaf engraving on the top plate and are quite rare as 1877 was the last year
this was done. Also the drop bolt was not nickel plated.
This lock from
1877, Case and movement #11 making this the earliest known example.
The second example is c. 1887. The drop bolt now has the nickel plating and
attached plaque with the company name and the four patent dates, c. 1889,
case #1306, movement #1286.
In July of 1878 S&G introduced their Model 4 a two-movement time lock that
was smaller than their model 3 and even easier to fit into smaller safes.
The drop bolt was tucked a bit behind the the from movement plate which is a
bit more obvious in the first photo due to the perspective of the photo
shot. The model 4 was the first to employ Geneva stops as well as the
simplified door lock using a handcuff type key. Version 1 and 2 departed
from the wagon wheel style and used a solid dial. By 1889 S&G went back to
their standard dial style. The solid dial would return in their smallest
movement, the size 'H' sometime in the early 1900's. The Model four never
had an engraved top movement plate nor black dials since both of these
features had been discontinued the year before. Left, Model 4 v.1, 1878,
case and movement #227. Right, Model 4
v.3, later 1890's. The dials have the post 1896 company attribution.
The triple A, B and C were introduced concurrently in 1889. The first photo shows the earliest example known of the
Triple B v.1, case 38,
movements #256, #257, #258. Photo right, after 1924 the satin nickel case became the
standard style. All attempts at component decoration had by this time been
abandoned, though the basic design, with minor alterations remained the
The design of S&G's drop bolt design was a key to their success. It was what
distinguished their products from all the others.No other
time lock maker made as simple and fool-proof a bolt dogging system. It
relied on the simplicity of gravity for its operation. Of course it was
bolstered by the patent litigation and market collusion with Yale. But still
it was an ingenious device. The video below illustrates the operation.
The examples illustrated below are
all from between 1910 and 1929. By this time true interchangeability was
achieved and most cases and movements were the satin nickel finish.
During this period S&G employed four different sized movements. These were
designated from the left as, 'R', 'M', 'L' and 'H'. The largest movement has
a 96 hour duration while the remaining three have S&G's standard 72 hour
duration. The "R" movement only came in the 96 hour duration while the other
three could be had in72, 96 and in rarer instances 120 hour
durations. The 120 hour durations did not come along until the late 1920's.
By 1886 the 72 hour duration was standard and by the 1920's most of their
models were available in the optional 96 and a few years later 120 hour
durations. The customer paid dearly for the option. Below is an original price list from
April 22, 1929 (how ironic, only six months before the onset of the Great
Depression, bringing time lock sales to a complete halt). The triple B with
standard 72 hour duration was $311.10, with 96 hour duration $355.54 and with
120 hour duration $477.77. So the extended 120 hour duration option cost the
consumer an additional 53.6% over the standard 72 hour duration! Also take a
look at the prices, it almost seems like the company liked funny numbers.
Remember at the beginning of this article that the Model 2 in 1874 cost
$400.00, the triple A introduced in 1888 was priced the same, so one can see
how the breaking of the S&G and Yale patent cartel and as the patents
themselves began to lapse, competition began to bring prices down by 1929.
S&G time locks with the expensive 120 hour duration are therefore far less common and
thus more collectible. The same rule applies for the longer duration time
locks offered by other makers.
Price list from an S&G catalog, April 22, 1929, just before the stock market
crash that brought on the Great Depression which brought a halt to industry
wide time lock sales until after WWII.
All of the movements had the same wheel work configurations containing six
wheels and a standard in line lever escapement with a solid brass, uncompensated
balance wheel, see diagram below. One of the great advantages of this type of
escapement for use in bank and safe time locks is that it is
self-starting. Most time locks are designed to wind down to zero and
stop when the time lock is put off guard. It would be impossible to 'jiggle'
or twist the time lock around to get the balance wheel moving as is common
in chronometer escapements. Try doing that with a time lock mounted onto a
20 ton vault door! This author has worked on all of movements represented
has found them to be purposefully designed to allow for easy maintenance.
Access areas and holes are drilled in appropriate locations to allow the
servicer to easily remove the entire escapement without parting the plates.
Lubrication points have easy access. In fact the movements are so easy to
service that a semi-skilled watchmaker could do a compete servicing as
opposed to the need for a skilled watchmaker needed for other time lock
makers. Many of those makers used E. Howard and later Seth Thomas movements
that were of higher quality or actual pocket watch movements by Waltham,
Illinois Watch Co. or South Bend Watch Co. all of which require a greater
skill set. This makes sense since S&G was one of the few makers that made
their own movements in house rather than subcontracting to an established
watch firm. Some features were of lesser quality such as the substitution of
a steel stud for the customary roller jewel pin and use of a solid
brass balance wheel rather than a split bi-metallic balance wheel favored in
the watch industry. But in this case it was completely unnecessary. A
bi-metallic balance is needed for temperature compensation errors. Unlike a
watch worn on the wrist or in a pocket and is subject to wide temperature
variations, a time lock is located in one place indoors and attached to a
massive steel door that acts as its own steady temperature control.
The case sizes followed the movement size. All of these have a drop bolt for
use with manual bolt work. A shorter height profile case was available for
all types of time locks that were used with automatic bolt actuators. Those
systems eliminated the drop bolt and the space needed below the time locks
for it. Notice the smallest lock in both photos has a door that is flush
with the case. It appears that S&G used this type of door only with the
locks equipped with their smallest 'H' style movement and employing a drop
bolt. All of their other cases had a door with an overlapping lip on three
sides, excluding the hinge side where it was not possible. To the best of my
knowledge S&G was the only maker to have this type of door. Most other
makers had flush mounted doors and a few like Hall and later Consolidated
had countersunk doors.
All S&G locks that were designed with drop bolts had a solid glass insert.
This is because the operator had to open the door to manually set the drop
bolt, (see video under drop bolt section) and so there was no point to
having the winding operation through a closed door via eyelet inserts
through the glass. Time locks that operated an automatic bolt actuating
device did not require the door to be opened to set the lock on guard. In
this case the glass had eyelet holes to allow the operator to wind the
movements without opening the door. With this in mind it is a
convenient way to know if the glass has been replaced: if it's meant to
operate an automatic it had eyelets. Often the glass got broken at some
point from the winding process and it was replaced with a single piece of
glass and the eyelets were lost. Yale got around this problem by supplying a
split glass door with the winding holes within the lower half of the door
which was metal, the upper half a solid piece of glass. Only one model to
the best of my knowledge in the S&G line used this split glass window design.
These examples are all of one type of case finish, satin nickel, which was
introduced in the 1920's and became standard in 1924 and coinciding with the
rise of art deco which favored a sleek, simple vault door design in contrast
to the earlier and much more highly decorative vault designs that employed
the gold jeweled case motif. Brushed bronze was also available, but appears to have been
Shown here are all of the parts contained within a S&G quad M 96 hour duration
lock using the largest 'R' sized movements. Any quad would contain a similar number of parts. Outside of the numerous
components contained within the four time lock movements and the screw bolts
used to secure them, there really are not that many parts. This is a
virtue for a mechanism that must be absolutely reliable.
Below is an overview of the time locks offered by the company from its inception
through today. Only the major models are listed as S&G had many permutations as
far as case finish and movement size for any of their models in their product
line. They also did quite a bit of custom and special orders as did many of the
other manufacturers. Their 1927 catalog listed twelve different styles in
eighteen different sizes. S&G tended to assign their letter designations
according to the size of the case. This why even though the Model 4 and the
Model 4 for the Corliss look so different, they both share the same case
configuration. Notice as the numbers increase the case size decreases. The sizes
were reduced as time went on. All of S&G's number designation time locks were
were introduced between 1874 and 1878 and so all had been housed in the
company's signature jeweled cases. These remained the predominate case style
until about 1920 when the safe and vault styles began to change toward the
sleeker art-deco style of satin nickel. While the model 2, 3, and 4 were
illustrated in a 1927 catalog and advertised as offered as standard in the satin
nickel case finish, this author has never seen these in that finish as an OEM
from the company.
Model 2, 1874.
Model 3 later 1880's. ▲
Model 3A for use on automatics,
Model 4 v.3.
Model 4 for Corliss safes. Installed as a pair. ▲
Model 4B aka Cleoh for use on combination locks.
Model 6, the smallest time lock S&G ever made.
Model 2A. This is is a
special order, perhaps a one off redesigned to operate directly on the
combination lock fence. I include this to illustrate how the time lock makers in the early part
of time lock manufacture before 1900 were willing to make special orders. Partly
this was because the margins were so great that it was worth the effort. S&G did
this more than most other makers since they manufactured the entire time lock
in-house while most if not nearly all others subcontracted out at least the
movements if not the entire lock.
Below are the time locks S&G introduced with modular movements beginning in
1888. They originally had letter designations, later changed in 1922 to a four digit
number. These had production runs that went well past 1910 when case styles
began to change to the satin nickel finish. For uniformity, I have only included
examples from pre-1900 and as such all have the S&G gold toned jewel case,
excepting the Model M and N. As with S&G's number designated locks the letter
designations tend to follow locks with smaller foot prints as the lettering goes
on. Of course one has to account for the fact that a time lock for use with an
automatic will always have a smaller height than one for use with manual bolt
work because the latter has to have the drop bolt assembly below the movements.
So if one just uses the width as a guide, the rule holds true for the letters A
through R. The Model M and N were introduced after 1910 and so break this
Model Triple A., for use with automatics.
Model Triple B. ▲
Triple C., with side pull for side mounted automatics.
Model H., the smallest three movement for use with manual bolt
Model K., for use with automatics.
Model P, side pull for for side mounted automatics. ▲
R., the smallest four movement for use with manual bolt work.
The model M and Model N and their special order variants were late model entries
into the S&G line. These were created for the largest vaults that were being
installed between 1910 and before the Great Depression. The special order models
are truly huge and heavy mechanisms and were introduced after the case
design has changed to the satin nickel finish. The special order employed a
slightly larger movement size 'R' from the company's previously largest
movement, the 'M''.
Model M, special order.
The third photo shows the slight
difference in size between the two.
Model N, special order for use with automatics.
The third photo shows the slight difference in size between the two.
Model 6295 E.T.L., SIRIUS. ▲
Model 6370. Contemporary offering by S&G.
The SIRIUS was a short-lived entry into the fully electronic market. Electronic
time locks have since proved to be less reliable than the old-fashioned
mechanical designs and have largely been discontinued. The company's time locks have been
built since 1978 in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2005 after 140 years, S&G lost its
independence and became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Stanley Works under the
name of Stanley Security Solutions, Inc. Stanley retains the S&G trademark on
their time locks and other security products.