What a find - this steel utility lock from the Railway Express Agency is marked on BOTH the shackle AND the body, AND it comes with not one, but TWO original keys carrying the same serial number as the padlock! a spectacular find for a historical transportation-related collection!
This set dates between 1920 and 1969, probably earlier rather than later. See "Background" below: Inextricably related to the development and expansion of railroads, express companies -- of which the REA is best known -- provided essential shipping services that helped the United States grow and prosper.
THE LOCK works perfectly with either key. It is medium size, just under 3.5 inches long (closed) and approximately 2.25 inches across. The body is approximately one-half inch thick. There is a drain hole in the very bottom. It is attractively stamped RY.EX.AGY. on the keyhole side of its shackle. On the back it is AGAIN stamped RY EX AGY in very tall letters, below a tiny, stamped 11-21-05 patent date and MADE IN USA. There is no maker mark.
CONDITION is excellent: its internal spring is strong. The dust cover is a bit stiff but resists being pushed to the side and then snaps shut hard when released. The surface metal has darkened with some slight surface grunge but no rust.
IMPORTANT: On the back of the shackle, this lock is stamped QR2107. This same number is stamped on BOTH of the keys. It is very difficult to find BOTH one of these locks AND its original key, carrying the same serial number, still together. It is AMAZING that here is not only one key, but TWO.
THE KEYS are steel, 1.75 inches long, and nearly identical twins. Both are stamped QR2107 and work perfectly with the lock. Both are in fine condition with no warps, dents, bends or twists. There is no maker mark on either key. There is very light surface pitting on both. One key has a discolored surface where we removed light rust to prevent further discoloration.
BACKGROUND: According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the REA was created by the U. S. Railroad Administration in 1917 when the government created the American Railway Express Company by nationalizing the express shipping businesses of the Adams Express Company and its subsidiary Southern Express Company; the American Express Company; and Wells Fargo and Company Express. When in 1920 these three companies (each owning one-third of the business) sold it to the railroads, the name was changed to Railway Express Agency.
The shipping business took off and the REA became first choice among the shipping companies, moving railcars and providing terminal space, paying its own bills and dividing the profits equitably among the railroad owners. The company was famous for accepting shipments of items that trucking companies either refused or could not manage. Following World War II, profits diminished as traffic decreased, passenger service ended and truck competition began in earnest. REA was finally sold in 1969, and the name was changed to REA Express.
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