This is one gorgeous old set. Made by the Union Brass Works of Chicago, it is a heart shape car lock -- for use on railway box cars -- complete with key. Note the unusual key shape! Car locks are scarce, and a working set is even harder to find.
The lock is a wonderful rich, dark almost black coffee color with golden brass peeping through in some places and a very appealing patina. It is strongly stamped ERR on the shackle, with a large letter "C" stamped on the opposite side. On the dust cover over the keyhole is stamped UNION BRASS MF'G CO / CHICAGO.
The lock is in excellent working condition with a strong inner spring. The keyhole cover resists being pushed to the side, and then snaps shut on its own when released. The heavy clevis loop is iron, attached to a thick chain that appears to be original. The only and very minor issue is that there is a bump on one side edge, SEE OUR PICTURE.
The tapered barrel key has no manufacturer markings, but is stamped a corresponding ERR and "C" for car on its bow. A beautiful golden brass, its extended foot bit works perfectly with the lock.
We could not find out much about Union Brass, except for a business listing in the 1876 Chicago city directory placing the company at 103 Ohio Street; and that it went out of business in 1887, when it merged with the Adams and Westlake Manufacturing Company, to become the Adams and Westlake Company.
We are quite sure this lock set came from the Erie Railroad (in operation 1861 - 1960), not its contemporary the Eastern Railroad (of New Hampshire). The Eastern operated from 1836 until 1884 and was a strong customer of Sherburne and other local lock makers in Boston, Massachusetts and several towns in Connecticut -- not western makers. The Erie, on the other hand, was looking to westward expansion and developing strong Chicago-area connections, tending to shy away from east coast foundries.
FROM WIKIPEDIA: With direct origins as far back as 1832, the Erie Railroad ran until 1960, originally connecting the New York City / Jersey City, NJ area with Chicago, IL / Lake Erie. It was formally reorganized in 1861 as the Erie Railway, which lasted until an 1878 merger, from which it emerged as the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad. Then, the NY,LE&W went into bankruptcy reorganization again, and emerged in 1895 as the Erie Railroad. The Erie expanded west to Chicago with its merger with the former Atlantic &Great Western Railroad, also known as the New York, Pennsylvania &Ohio Railroad.
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