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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bournemouth, UK
    Posts
    417
    Country: UK

    Default Yale Treasury Key

    This one of the non-European items from the collection and was hoping for some insight. It is of course a key from Yale’s treasury bank lock. This key has an overall length of 5 ¾ " and the bit has 8 removable steps. The steps, which are numbered, may be reassembled in any order. Other versions of the key have also been noted, i.e. shorter length, fewer steps on the bit and that are also solid. I know (from "American Genius") that there were two versions of the lock and wondered if that accounted for the differences. Another point that may also be known by users is are there any known instances where the lock was used by others than the Treasury Dept. I know that it’s a very rare lock and content myself with at least having an example of the key but live in hopes that a lock may turn up one day.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Odell Ne
    Posts
    580
    Country: United States

    Default

    Brian, I have a few questions about the key and lock. First, I know you can rearrange the bits to fit the lock but, why? Second, How often would they change the bits? Third, Wouldn't they have to pretty much dissassemble the lock to change the levers to match the key? Seems like that would be alot of work unless it wasn't done very often.Or did they just remove the bits from the key and keep them out of order and assembled them in order when they needed to open the lock.
    Mark A. Billesbach

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,325
    Country: United States

    Default

    If I remember the moveable pins were a security item. You remove the key from the lock and change the patern. If someone sees the key or gets there hands on it the key will not work without knowing how to change the bitting on the key to the correct pattern. A little time and they could try all the combos on the key. SO you are correct Mark.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
    Posts
    1,222
    Country: United States

    Default

    I have no clue as to how many and where the locks were used other than the Treasury, but I looked at the patent and no mention is made of the lock being self adjusting to changes made to the key bitting. There were several other keylocks that did auto reset to the key, but in this case, it sounds like the removable bits were only so extra sets of keys would not be needed on sight if one was lost. Plus the advantage of rearranging them when not in use. The main idea of the patent was the prevention of picking access to the levers. The bits would separate from the key and access would then be blocked. This idea, which was also seen in earlier locks like the Herring "Grasshopper", was the last major key lock innovation prior to the keyless combination locks taking over in the US. Doug

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    73
    Country: UK

    Default Treasury Key with Fixed Steps

    Example of Treasury Key with Fixed Steps.
    Possibly this was the more "common" type?

    Patent
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Treasury Key.JPG  

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    25
    Country: UK

    Default

    Just a little update. The "Yale Double Treasury" operated with a key for either side. It only needed one side to operate to get open. The lock sets to whatever key was used to lock it. I have seen this in operation and you can see the knife edge go into the sliders. I did not have chance to try a different key to confirm this 100% but you could see the sliders in neutral in the unlocked state and then the knife edge going in in the locked state, setting the sliders. The other side did not work. It looked like it had been apart and put back together incorrectly. But the lock still opened on the one side.

    Damp was a major problem for locks of this era (Hobbs tried to select metals and finishes that were resistant when he came to the UK). From newspaper clippings it was not uncommon for safes & vaults to have forced entry due to corrosion problems even within a short space of time. The Parautoptic lock appears to have suffered this problem more than most.

    From what I understand the early Treasury locks had 3 defeat methods. Two methods of defeat were closed off but the third could not be overcome. From what I understand on one defeat Yale had to pay the $3000 challenge in installments because he did not have access to a lump sum.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    1,154
    Country: Wales

    Default

    I remember this lock featured in a book I read many years ago and it was referred to as 'changeable' in that either lock could be set to different key shapes as required.

    There was a part I was always doubtful of though, in that the book described the main purpose of the second lock purely as a fail safe in the event of an attack on the main one- the keyhole of the second lock being covered or hidden, and if I remember rightly it said the position was 'only known to the maker'. This seemed very odd to me as the elaborate geared mechanism was perfectly symmetrical- the top lock and it's associated mechanism was a perfect mirror image of the bottom- there was no 'modular' aspect or randomness in the way the two were positioned in relation to each other. So, even if the second was covered it would've been pretty obvious where it always was on the door!

    Plus, reading what Doug has said about the design and patent side blocking access to the levers for picking, this confirms more or less what I was thinking- it seems an unbelievably odd idea unless Mr Yale really did consider it that secure that a secondary 'fail safe' mechanism was essential, in the same manner as an emergency door on a vault!

    I can't help thinking the book may have been wrong on that aspect as a Treasury lock of this calibre would seem a bit above hidden keyholes or false escutcheons to me, but I'll see if I can access the book again and throw some light on it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    25
    Country: UK

    Default

    Lock failure on banks were quite common at this time. There were perpetual bank failures. Excuses that the safe/ vault could not be opened for some reason were quite common. Somewhere I have a paper cutting of a relatively new Parautoptic failing and Day & Newell had to supply emergency opening at their own expense which required cutting into the vault/safe door. This had to be done quickly to maintain confidence in the bank.

    I suspect this is why the extra option on the Double Treasury was offered. The same patent of "either or" equally applied to the combination locks.

    Although the key bit was taken into the lock there were originally 3 ways to pick it open (in this case build a key bit to fit).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Frankfurt Main
    Posts
    706
    Country: Germany

    Default

    Very interesting and helping information there I also do only know this type of key from the "American Genius" book that I have here. Have never seen them anywhere else but here

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    1,154
    Country: Wales

    Default

    Haven't had a chance to try and track it down as yet, but from what I recall the book I remember was in some way linked with the Lips factory or museum- it was a beautiful hard-bound book with a sort of fabric covering- very well made. I'll see what I can do over the weekend

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