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Early FRISCO Heart Shape Brass SL&SF Railroad Switch Lock & Key
Made by Prier Brass Mfg., here is an antique switch lock from the FRISCO -- the St. Louis San Francisco Railroad. It is in good condition for its apparent age. The key appears to be slightly newer but works with it.
THE LOCK has darkened so much it looks black. Bright golden metal shows through on worn edges and places where there isn't much exposure to the elements (on the tip of the shackle which is usually inside the body, and around the keyhole under the dust cover). On the shackle is stamped FRISCO-S, with another S stamped on the other side. Down the dust cover it is stamped MFG'D BY / PRIER BRASS MFG / CO / KANSAS CITY / USA
Condition is good, with some surface bumps and dings from use. The mainspring is in excellent condition - the dust cover resists being slid to the side and then snaps shut sharply over the keyhole when released. Damage: the steel clevis loop has split on one side (SEE PICTURES) . The clevis pin apparently is steel and has rusted, but the loop does swing freely much of the way.
IMPORTANT: The key turns easily but sometimes the lock does not open. WE HAVE PRICED ACCORDINGLY. Sometimes it opens readily, but other times it does not "want" to open, and you must tug on the shackle. It's likely the key is not original, so the bit cut may be just a tiny bit off; but we think it is more likely that the internal tumblers are worn. Nevertheless, with the Prier top marking and great color, the set makes an attractive display.
THE KEY is newer than the lock but still dates from the earlier to mid-1900s. It has darkened to an attractive chestnut brown with great patina. It is stamped FRISCO on one side of the bow and ADLAKE on the other. It works well with the lock. There is just the right amount of wear on the bit and barrel end.
BACKGROUND - According to Wikipedia, the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway, also known as the Frisco, was a railroad that operated in the Midwest and South Central U.S. from 1876 to April 17, 1980. At the end of 1970 it operated 6,574miles of track, not including that of its subsidiaries the Quanah, Acme & Pacific Railway or the Alabama, Tennessee & Northern Railroad. The Frisco was purchased and absorbed into the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1980.
We could not find out much about the Prior Brass company except that it was founded in 1881 by Anton Prier, a German immigrant who settled in Kansas City, Kansas. Prier specialized in brass items including lanterns, locks and keys and plaques. The company apparently was acquired by Herman J. Hodes, who took it over and founded H. J. Hodes & Co., in 1943. Because of its stellar reputation, the Prier name apparently was continued, but brass production was ended due to World War II, and the company turned to plumbing products. Hodes is now a third-generation operation, focusing on specialty items for the plumbing contractors and service operations nationwide.
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