Sargent & Greenleaf, Rochester New York - 1 movement - modified, Model #4 - Corliss

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S&G 1 mvt modified.JPG (1072323 bytes)

S&G 1 mvt modified (1).JPG (1192115 bytes)

S&G 1 mvt modified (3).JPG (1029747 bytes)  S&G 1 mvt modified (2).JPG (1143235 bytes)A

S&G 1 mvt modified (6).JPG (987122 bytes)  S&G 1 mvt modified (7).JPG (990917 bytes)

S&G#4 modified.JPG (2180737 bytes)  S&G#4 modified (1).JPG (2064751 bytes)B

A. Model #4 - Corliss. This model was used (in pairs) exclusively in Corliss 'Cannonball' style safes. Note original etched glass which often is missing due to breakage. Sargent and Greenleaf invented the first practical time lock and made their own movements. Most other firms, notably Consolidated, Yale, and Diebold used movements from outside suppliers mainly E. Howard & Co. Around 1902 Howard exited the time lock business and Seth Thomas filled much of this. Other makers who arrived later, as Bankers Dustproof and and Mosler Safe Co., then used American Waltham Watch Co. pocket watch movements. Beginning around the 1950's movement production shifted from the United States to Switzerland. Sargent and Greenleaf ceased production of their own movements due to high domestic costs in 1953. This is a very early example of an expertly modified time lock. It probably was done sometime between 1906 and 1915. The substituted movement is a fairly rare Banker's Dustproof Time Lock Co. product and this company was only in existence for this brief nine year period. It's doubtful a Bankers Dustproof movement would have been used after the company went out of business. Notice on the back side of the case how it had to be milled to accommodate the Bankers lock spring barrel. Retrofitting of time locks occurred when there was a lack of parts or personnel to service older time lock units. Curiously, in this case, it should not have been such a problem at this early time. Modified time locks were done by a few experts whose work was respected and trusted. The person or firm who did this as well as the one illustrated in 'B' is unknown. Andy Kotas had done S&G modifications in the 1960's employing contemporary Swiss made movements used by Yale and must have been quite trusted and successful as he did a fair number of these. Probably these conversions, if known to the bank's insurance company, would have had to have been done by a sanctioned firm in order to retain coverage. After all, if the lock were to fail completely, the door could not be opened. While a regular time lock had redundancies built in from the factory and thus a very low probability of total failure, a modified lock with altered parts common to all the movements like snubber bar drop lever or bolt could, if made poorly, cause a total failure. In the entire history of the use of factory installed time locks with redundant movements, when the lock was properly used and serviced and in the absence of tampering or efforts at forced entry to the safe, there has never been a total failure of a time lock resulting in the door being unable to be opened. The case on this example is in the best condition I'd ever seen, fully pristine deep gold plating and superb crystalline damascened (jeweled) pattern. Case #1601-1. file 83

B. Model #4 - Corliss. Same description as above but using a Mosler Safe Co. movement. Case is S&G's spotted style vs. the crystalline style above. My guess would be that this modification was done a bit later than the one one above. The movement is a Mosler using an Illinois Watch Co. #18-size Model #4 movement and custom made porcelain dial. Mosler dials always had their markings on them, while this one is unmarked. After 1932 Mosler switched to American Waltham Watch Co.'s 16-size movement. So this conversion is likely before that time. Case #1458-1. (1) file 141

Most time lock modifications were performed on S&G locks since this company made their own uniquely configured movements. Early locks that used less commonly available movements, particularly those before the introduction of S&G's modular style movement lines after 1890 were candidates. However, there are exceptions. Even so, modified locks are quite rare. It was an expensive procedure done from absolute necessity, and the risk of a catastrophic failure, while remote if done properly, was still a deterrent to the conservative banking community and their insurance companies. Modified locks are a very sought after subgroup of time locks. 

Other modified time locks, page one, page two.

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(1) American Genius Nineteenth Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, David Erroll & John Erroll, pg. 324.