This old Pennsylvania Railroad lock is a monster -- it weighs a full 1.5 POUNDS. At just under 4 inches tall, 2.5 inches wide and 2 inches thick through the middle, it is a force to be reckoned with! It was made by the Star Lock Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sometime between 1869, when the Star Lock Works was begun, and 1926 when it closed.
Either steel or iron, it is locked shut. Unfortunately, we do not have a key. The raised star shape on the bottom confirms the manufacturer. This lock may (or may not) have been used to secure a one-way shipment on the railway (see below).
The railroad's PRR Keystone logo is cast on one side. The logo is 1.25 inches tall with surface wear on its raised letters documenting use. An impressed marking on the back 10068 / H is unusual, because this type of lock seldom carried such an additional marking.
CONDITION is excellent with nothing worse than expected wear. The lock is sound and secure with some surface bumps and dings, but no metal damage. The clevis pin appears to be original, is completely free, and the clevis loop swings readily. SEE OUR PICTURES: There are some surface bumps/depressions on the front side top of the shackle, clearly caused by something bumping against the lock. This is surface-only, cosmetic with absolutely no effect on anything except appearance and it is not readily apparent unless you pick up the lock and look.
This type of lock is called a Scandinavian lock, because it was invented in the mid1800s by a man named Christopher Polhem who lived in Sweden, in Scandinavia. One of their common uses in the United States was as "shipping insurance." A package or box would be locked with one of these locks, and then the key would be sent separately to the person receiving it at the other end of the journey. By producing the key and opening the lock at its destination, the recipient would prove ownership.
These locks are also called "potato" locks, I am not sure why unless it is a shape resemblance, or perhaps evolved from a mispronunciation of Mr. Polhem's name.
BACKGROUND : The Star Lock Works, which existed between 1869 and 1926, traces its origin to 1836 when a German immigrant named Conrad Liebrich started up a lockmaking company. In 1869, Liebrich retired, and his partners, a Louis Hillebrand and a Daniel Wolf, took over the business. They named it the Star Lock Works. The company operated for some years until Wolf died and Hillibrand retired. Wolf's sons took over and ran the business following the death of their father. The company finally went out of business in 1926.
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