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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    2
    Country: United States

    Default WANTED: Jail / Prison Keys and locks

    My primary collecting interest is in "identifiable" jail and/or prison keys and related cell door locks, and I am always looking for nice pieces to add to the collection, in quantity or just nice single pieces. Please feel free to contact me with anything you might have available for sale or trade. [email protected]

    "Jail Key" is an often used catch-all name that many attribute to any old and large skeleton style warded lock keys. Very few of those were ever used as actual jail or prison detention keys, and even those that were are usually impossible to distinguish from the common large gate and door lock keys of the later 1800s and earlier. Most collectors of jail / prison material concentrate on those items that are readily identifiable as being used "primarily" as jail or prison locks and keys. These include such names as Folger Adam, Southern Steel, and certain other types of keys and locks by the likes of Yale, Van Dorn, Sargent Greenleaf, Pauley, Stamford, Fichet, and other less common manufacturers, as well as a myriad of independent contractors (or "installers") that had their companies identified on their products, the most common of which are stamped company identifications on Folger Adam manufactured keys.

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  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jailer View Post
    My primary collecting interest is in "identifiable" jail and/or prison keys and related cell door locks, and I am always looking for nice pieces to add to the collection, in quantity or just nice single pieces. Please feel free to contact me with anything you might have available for sale or trade. [email protected]
    I have on my web site one claw bolt jail lock that has not been sold. IIRC it is on the first page near the bottom. All of the other jail items have been sold as indicated. Feel free to lookl
    BBE.

    http://www.1st-net-lock-museum.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    England
    Posts
    110
    Country: England

    Default

    Jailer,
    Are you after items just from the US or anywhere else ?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    4
    Country: United States

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    41
    Country: United States

    Default

    I have a fairly massive jail lock collection which can be partially view in this video (its grown more massive since this was made):

    I don't think I'm looking to sell anything, but if something interests you, feel free to contact me. I pretty sure the stuff that most interests you would be the stuff I'm least willing to part with.

    But I amassed my collection pretty rapidly, without connections in the industry, and not having good information about what is or what isn't a jail lock. Pretty much all I the info I had to work with came from BBE (Billy Edward's) website and the Joe Fox Collection. I had to take a few risks and buy items, I wasn't fully certain of by comparing locks on those websites to look for promising candidates. I feel fairly confident no ones is creating Jail rim lock fakes- the cost of creating one would exceed the price these lock typically sell for on ebay. But many seller misidentify their locks as prison locks, so you often have to go with your gut.

    The fact of the matter is even museum quality locks (with keys) rarely sell for more $200 on ebay. The reason is it's a fairly obsure sub-category of lock collection, that rarely attracts non insiders (non-locksmiths, non-correctional staff, non-magicians, or lastly-and definitely least- lockpickers). The first three categories often have inside connections to acquire better stuff through government sales or other locksmiths. Thus they tend to take a very cautious, hard approach toward bidding on ebay. The approach tends to be "I'm not going to pay more $200 for this muffler", no matter how good the item is (unless it's something they specifically need for their collection- then all bets are off). The nature of jail locks is even if they're rare, they're are usually multiples. Wait long enough on ebay, and everything turns up a 2nd time. And with $200 to spend, you'll win most auctions. The exception (which I can't for the life of me figure) is the Folger Adam series 80, which will attracts outrageous bids (usually from non knowleable lockpickers), even though it is by far the most widely available true prison lock on Ebay. One non-exceptional example recently sold for $480 for a single lock and key. A day later a essentially identical (and brand new) R R Brink sold for little over a $100 with a key. I seen outrageous bids for series 80's, while a series 60 with a key slides under the radar for less than $150

    I learn quite a bit from buying lock on ebay without keys. These locks usually sell for less than $75 (no matter how cool the lock is) and more typically go for about $50. Hard core collectors often turn their nose at them, holding for ones with keys. But buying them greatly increased my knowledge base of what I am looking for. I've got locks in my collection which I didn't know who they were made by when I bought them, that I have been able to positively identify later. BBE's site has been invaluable, but the truth of the matter is these locks often lock much different than the one pictured. They've been use in different environments, had multiple bad paint jobs, and the insides are other caked with dirt (always wear gloves and goggles when opening these things- human waste is the very least these have been exposed to).

    I have an original copy of the Don Stewart Yale Jail lock guide. It is the single most important book any collector of jail locks can own. It's unforturnate that it only covers Yale locks- but the great thing about Yale is there sheer variety of Jail locking mechanism they created over their history. Most manufactures create a relatively few lock designs and concentrate on variations of that design. Yale created an austounding variety of very different locks. Sometimes I'll see a lock on ebay, that has no identification, but something about the quality of the build just rings out to me that it's a Yale.

    But alot of times it's very had to positively identify a lock from picture and the diagrams in the Yale guide (or the much grungier pictures in the reprints of Don Stewart Catalogs sold by the WCLA). The best comparison for positive identification usually are the measurements.

    If you only buy locks that you can positively identify ahead of time, you'll pass up on some really great locks. You'll also pass up on the opportunity to build your knowledge base. Alot of times you won't know what your looking for until you seen it before, up close and personal.

    Another good thing to do is constantly save picture and details of auctions- even ones you don't bid on, and even ones your sceptical of. I constantly reevaluating my collection and constantly find new info on locks I've had a for years.

    A case in point is one of my first locks: a enormous Folger Adam lock from Waupun Prison in Wisconsin. I knew the manufacturer and the Prison, but knew nothing of how it was implemented. A woman who I assume works for the WI DOC procurement department (the lock came FedEx the day after I paid for it, with the prison as a return address), has been selling these locks for years on ebay, often for as little as $2 plus shipping. There hasn't been any activity on her Ebay name in over a year, so I assume they've sold their lot. I looked for pictures of the interior of Waupun hoping to see my lock in action, but have been disappointed to find very few interior shots.

    Recently I purchased an even more ridiculously huge lock from Montreal. I'll have more on this in another thread, but it is a electro mechanical lock made by the English lockmaker Gibbons. I never was aware Gibbons ever created anything this outrageously big, but it's a jamb lock that weighs 40 pounds. If you google uk electrical mechanical jamb prison lock, you'll find very few modern examples of that type of lock being used HMP Prisons. It's not a style of lock commonly used in the Uk (at least from what info I've gathered). In Canada however it's another matter. Huge jamb locks appear to be morecommonly used there.

    I was shocked by the number of close up pictures of locks when I google Montreal Prison. There were several pictures from various sources that the showed enormous locks in Montreal's Bordeaux Prison.

    (In contrast it's rare to see close up picture of locks in action at American Prisons. The only lock that will commonly be shown in the press or on MSNC LockUp is the Folger Adam Series 80. Along with a few Mogul Cylinders it's typically the only lock locksport pickers are aware of. And with the number of tear down videos of Series 80's reaching comical levels- I guess showing them on tv is no longer a big deal.)

    Even more shocking is this prison doesn't service "Hannibal Lector" types, but prisoners with less than two years to serve and detainees. The huge Gibbons- from Cowanville Prison, a medium security prison. Sort of makes you wonder about the massive size of these things.

    In any case, for me at least, it's payed off to take risks and make "edumacated" guesses.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    41
    Country: United States

    Default

    I don't know why but the Bordeaux Prison photos didn't post. They showed in the preview. Here they are:

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    And the Folger Adam from my collection:

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  7. #7

    Default

    Nice post and video. I'm glad you found my site interesting. That is one of the two reasons I put it up around 14 years ago. At one time I had 23 jail locks in my collection, even more if you count the various mogul style cylinders.

    I liked the pre 1930 models best as it seems that many were designed for the particular jail or prison and another completely different design for the next one.

    One reason Yale has had so many different designs through the years is not just from longevity, but they had a practice of buying the competition and then maintaining production for 10 years or so.

    In my recent move I refound some old jail items that I haven't put up on the site yet. Nothing special, just a FA paracentric key and a bull ring padlock from SQ. Also have a pair of leg irons from there but they were new in 1987 so not very special either. Keep up the good work.
    BBE.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    30
    Country: United States

    Default Jail locks for sale

    I have several jail locks I would sell. Let me know if you want some pictures.

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