Hall and Consolidated Time
lock Company, Cincinnati, Ohio - 1875 through 1927. Introduction
(1823–1889) was among the most significant
figures of the safe, lock, and time lock
world. After being a partner in a number of
safe-making companies beginning in 1846, he
became the majority stockholder, president
and treasurer of Hall’s Safe & Lock Co. in
1867 and would go on to spin off the highly
influential Consolidated Time Lock Co. in
1880. Importantly, Hall was the driving
force behind the only successful patent
litigation defense against the combined
force of Yale & S&G, taking his case all the
way to the United States Supreme Court and
finally winning in 1889, albeit posthumously.
Hall's and Consolidated time locks, with few
exceptions operated directly on the
combination lock via the lock's fence
instead of by blocking the safe door's bolt
work as was the preferred method by nearly
all other makers. But like many others in
the time lock business, his movements were
made by E. Howard & Co. until 1902 when
E. Howard was purchased by the Keystone
Watch Case Company and E. Howard exited the
time lock business.
The Hall's time lock
business was started in 1875 and through the Consolidated name
in 1880 was reincorporated back
into Hall's Safe Co. in 1906 after the threat
of litigation had ceased and continuing through 1927.
production ceased after the bankruptcy of
the Hall's company in 1927.
source: David and John Erroll
The Hall's Safe & Lock Company began time lock manufacture in 1875 and received this award the same year
in recognition of the company's unique design where the time lock was
mounted onto and acted directly upon the combination lock to perform its
function (hence the reference to the double chronomatrixattachment
engraved on the medallion).
In contrast, S&G first started making time locks in 1874, and
then Yale in 1875, that acted
apart from the combination lock and instead upon the safe boltwork by
blocking its movement when the time lock was on guard. Hall chose the route
of having the time lock act upon the combination lock's fence, preventing it
from falling into the tumbler's gates when the correct combination was
dialed in while the lock was on guard. This design made sense for Hall
because his company was already a leader in the manufacture of combination
locks. S&G and Yale also made combination locks, but were not as
dominant as Hall. Hall's time locks were also much smaller than the competition
because they did not need the bolt dogging mechanism and could be mounted
directly on top of the Hall combination lock making his product ideal for
smaller safe doors where space was at a premium.
A business card for the Consolidated Company. Note the names
at the top of Joseph Hall the company owner and Milton
Dalton, probably their most valuable employee. The card
refers to their "Non-Lock-Out Devices" which probably was
their "Infallible Lockout Protection System" created to make
what otherwise would be an unacceptable risk using a single
time lock and made it as reliable as the standard pair of
redundant movements; giving the Hall product a great cost
advantage over their competition. The Dalton permutation
lock was a type of combination lock that was incorporated in
Consolidated's Dual and Triple Guard time locks.
Hall's time locks were based on Henry Gross' design for
which he received a patent on February 8, 1876. This was
probably not the first patent issued Henry Gross since it is
dated in early 1876, about six months after Hall introduced
its first time lock. But one can see all the elements that
the Hall and later Consolidated time locks used in their
designs in this patent application. The unique shape of
their dial lever actuators as well as their drop down lever
to hold the combination lock's fence were all spelled out in
this patent. One of Hall's most successful products was its
line of Hall Premier combination locks which were also the
design of Gross and patented in 1869 several of which are
included with a time lock in this collection. Another key
employee, Milton Dalton was awarded many patents for
combination and time locks from 1873-1890. His penultimate creation being
the Permutation lock used in the Dalton Dual and then
time locks, the latter being the most complex and expensive ever made.
The first model Hall introduced was his dual movement time lock around the same time as Yale's
Model #1 in 1875, the Double Pin Dial, and wholesale prices for both were similar
according to production ledgers of the E. Howard Co., with each movement set
at $17.50 for a total of $35.00. It seems hard to believe given how much
larger and more complex the Yale design was compared to Hall's. It is
unclear whether these prices were for the movements alone, which would seem
more plausible, or the complete time locks. At this time Howard made not
only the movement but the complete time lock for Yale whereas Hall made the
remainder of the time lock, case and other parts in house.
Hall attempted to gain market share by introducing a less expensive
alternative to the dual movements of S&G and Yale. Their innovation was a
single movement time lock, but equipped with what they call the "Infallible
Lockout Protection System™". Should the
time lock become disabled due to the failure of the single movement, a very real possibility and the
foundation of the redundancy provided by two or more movements, a "secret
combination" could be dialed in to open the lock. This, of course obviated
the entire purpose of the time lock which was to prevent anyone from opening
the safe under any circumstances. The illustration below shows how
their competitors S&G and Yale countered this feature from an 1883 catalog,
(note the plaque above the safe indicating the deficiency of and alluding to
Hall's Infallible Lockout System and the resulting threat to the safety of bank
personnel). Indeed, the physical threat to the person who
could, in the absence of a time lock, open the safe was a primary motivation
for acquiring the device. However, the difference in cost gave Hall a
significant market niche in the time lock business, especially where space
was limited on the safe door and their small single movement time lock would
fit where their competitors' time locks could not.
This is an interesting illustration. S&G and Yale shamelessly
exploited the Hall lockout feature with a plaque on the safe that would
never actually be there. Without that, how would they know what type of time
lock was inside the safe? And even if the scenario was accurate, the owner
had to telegraph the correct combination to the Hall company to then get the
alternate combination and this, presumably, has to be done during business
hours when a masked robbery would not have taken place.
The Hall Company had two significant innovations. The first was their
"Infallible Lockout Protection™" system. Which
allowed the company to safely use a single movement time lock, where
redundancy of two by other makers at were necessary (and later three or more
as time went on). This gave Hall/Consolidated a significant cost advantage
over their rivals, the second was their "Infallible Chronometric Attachment™"
which allowed the user to set the time lock but delay the operation of the
lock going on guard for a preset time so as to be able use the safe until
closing time. This device was simple and effective and while other makers
made similar devices, no one else was ever able to duplicate its elegant,
Hall's serial numbering of time lock movements began at 1001, but did not
proceed sequentially. For example, a February 1890 order requested that one hundred single-movement time locks be numbered 3676-3699 and 4926-5000.
Rather than sequential numbering, Hall seems to have set aside blocks of
numbers for particular styles. Double movement time locks marked "Joseph
Hall" seem to be numbered from 1001; single movement "Joseph hall" time
locks from 2001; single movement time locks marked "Consolidated" from 2501;
double movement "Consolidated" time locks from 3001; Consolidated time locks
with movements labeled from the Harvard Clock Co. are known to be numbered
over 3600, possibly starting around 3500. The Harvard Clock Co. was founded
in October 1880 and became the Boston Clock Co. in May 1884. After Boston
Clock failed in 1894, Joseph Eastman (later of Eastman-Kodak) tried to
revive the company in 1895, but creditors foreclosed on the firm in 1896.
Some unlabeled movements numbered in the 6000s are thought to have come from
Boston Clock for their escapement and movement structure are clearly not
from E. Howard. As a consequence, movement serial numbers are only partially
helpful in determining the production date of time locks made by Hall or
Consolidated. Based on an analysis of Hall's non-sequential numbering
scheme, it is suspected that two hundred to three hundred of these earliest
double movement time locks were made between 1876 to 1881; fewer than thirty
are known to survive.
Joseph Hall formed the Consolidated Time Lock Co. in January
1880 to insulate his successful safe and lock business from
yhe risky and
untested time lock business, but the name Consolidated Time Lock Company did not
appear anywhere on a time lock (only "Joseph L. Hall") prior to 1882. Around
this time Consolidated stopped including "E. Howard" on the enamel dials,
replacing it with Gothic type-face embossing on the face plate behind the
dial to obscure it from view. This may have been an attempt by E. Howard to
avoid further litigation after a Yale lawsuit for using a Holmes time lock
in its safe. Such lawsuits may have been a factor in Consolidated's use of
frosted door glass in some of their time locks. (1)
Some makers like Sargent & Greenleaf and Yale used fairly consistent
serial numbering systems across their model lines, this was
especially true during the early portion of each model
production run and before the introduction of modular
movements. At that time the serial number of the case and
the movement were either a match or quite close. After the
introduction of separately serial numbered modular movements
this became impossible as the single serial number for the
case would immediately begin to fall behind the multiple
numbered movements. It appears that the numbers appearing on
the inside door frames of the Hall and Consolidated time
locks had no correlation to the movement numbers. Hall was
already in the business of making safes, it would not have
been difficult for them to have made the time lock cases on
a separate assembly facility and only used E. Howard to
produce the movements. This would explain the irrelevant
case-to-movement numbering system. To support this theory
the matching movement number was usually hand-stamped in small font on the
rear of the case but not always. If the numbers were present
and did not match, then one could assume the movement was
swapped out of the case at some point in time. So it appears the cases
were never made in a contemporaneous fashion with the
movements as was done with S&G and Yale. Only after the movement was
mated to the case did the company stamp the rear of the case
with the movement serial number. Of course S&G made their time locks in house so they controlled the entire process whereas most
other makers, Hall and later Consolidated included, used outside vendors to
make their movements and often the entire unit. But early movement serial
numbers tend to have lower serial numbered doors. For these
reasons along with the movement number I have included the number on the
case door, and when available the number stamped on the rear of the case, if
Yale was not a maker of safes and left the entire production
of their time locks, movement and case to E. Howard. Later
they, too tried other designs to allow for other makers for
their time lock movements but was largely unsuccessful.
Hall, on the other hand used at least two other alternative
makers to those previously noted, Harvard and Boston Clock
Company. The first was an early single movement design
and the second was in connection with their first foray into
movements. but also there is evidence that
at least two more makers were tired before the advent of the
company's adoption of modular movements.
Before the introduction of modular movements Hall used
integrated, paired lock movements as did S&G and Yale. From the front they appear to be independent movements, but these
movements had a shared rear movement
plate. To prove the point both movements had the same serial number on their
dials. Many other lesser known makers at this time, Holmes, Stewart, Lillie
and Pillard also had dual movements between full front and rear shared
movement plates. In either design if one movement needed
servicing, the entire set either had to be changed out or a
professional watchmaker would have to perform service on the
spot. By 1902 Consolidated introduced modular movements.
Introduction of interchangeable movements allowed for a
technician to simply swap out the defective movement for a
replacement, no specialized skill required. Consolidated was
a bit late to this design innovation as Sargent & Greenleaf
had introduced in 1888 the first modular movement design in
their Triple A model. While these movements were
independently removable they were still not truly
interchangeable until 1895. Before the shift to modular
movements Consolidated mounted their time lock movements
directly to the case with no anti-shock devices. These
devices were commonly a set of springs to allow either the
individual movements or a plate to which the movements were
attached to resist shock due to external forcing of the safe through
percussion or explosives. Even a severely careless slamming of the safe door
could cause damage. However, Consolidated was not alone as Sargent &
Greenleaf never felt the need for any anti-shock provision within their time
locks throughout the life of their production.
These two time locks span the entire history of the
Hall's-Consolidated and then back to Hall history of time lock
manufacture. The first photo is of a two movement lock c.
1875 with a serial number of 1105, this is only 104 locks after the first numbered 1001. The second is from 1927, the year Hall
declared bankruptcy. The highest serial number on a movement on this lock is
10019. However as noted above one cannot read too much into the serial
numbering system of this company.
Production from 1875 to 1901-prior to
introduction of modular movement design
Case design and finish:
Unlike Hall's main competitors, S&G and Yale, the company did not employ a
wide range of case designs and finishes. Nearly all of their cases had a
bright nickel finish and employed a countersunk, pin-hinged door. The door
locks were all small 'handcuff' style keys, however, some earlier models did use
cut keys that operated a three lever lock, but as with their serial
numbering system, there were exceptions and some later locks were provided
with lever locks. Around 1890 a simple blank key
moved a spring-loaded latch. All but a few of the very earliest locks used a
full glass door with rounded corners. The few early locks had scalloped
corners (see first photo above). It appears that the Hall / Consolidated
Company had problems with the nickel-plating process since many if not most
of the surviving examples have a poor, dull finish with some even having the
plating flaking away. It also seems that the plating was too thin as many
examples have the plating worn away with the base bronze metal case showing
The door glass was secured to the door by sliding into a milled slot in the
door's interior. The area where the glass slid into the channel was then
covered by the door lock panel that completed the glass enclosure. The
channel required a very thin glass, about 2/3 the thickness of a standard
single-strength glass, about 1.65 mm vs. 2.5 mm (0.065 vs. 0.098 inches).
This arrangement required the glass to be made to exacting dimensions and
replacement is more difficult on the Hall / Consolidated locks than other
time locks. One cannot buy the thin glass needed from a standard hardware
store, but it can be found in cheap, Chinese-made picture frames that will
fit into the slot. There are five models that had a different case
configuration, an experimental automatic lock,
an Ely Norris automatic lock, the Dalton Dual and Triple Guard and the very last model made in 1927, see second photo above.
Most of the glass was plain, but some were acid-etched with the Consolidated
name. There are no known examples of the Hall name etched on door glass.
Other makers had the glass as an insert into a milled channel around the
interior door window aperture; either glazed into that channel which was
only done by Yale or held by small screwed in tabs as in most other makes.
It is far easier to measure and fit standard glass into these types of
Characteristics of Hall / Consolidated time locks
The first time lock model by Hall's in 1875 employed a pair of time lock
movements. These were not independent of each other and were not modular.
From the front and top it looks like the movements are split because the
front movement plates and platform escapements are separate, but the
movement pair is mounted to a single rear plate. To drive this point home both movements always had the same serial number. The case designs had a solid rectangular window covering the twin platform
escapements and the door had scalloped corners (see first photo above). A
very few also had porthole type openings in both sides of the case to reveal
a specially decorated wheel that had a ring of holes in the wheel rim. The
earliest cases had no engraving, but were a smooth, polished nickel surface.
The single rectangular window was soon replaced by a pair of stronger, thick, bevel
glass portholes with a decorated bronze bezel. Clearly this was a more
expensive design than the single glass and may have been seen as necessary
to protect the escapements from explosion. But this seems hard to believe
given that the large glass door had a very thin piece of glass.
Case decoration is where Hall's expressed a diversity of design. Nearly all of
their cases had a machine-milled guilloche (Spirograph™) design on the sides
and often around the glass porthole on the top with a design running
parallel to the edges of the case (excluding the rear and bottom sides). The
porthole bezel was decorated with flowers that had a daisy petal design. All
of these features were highly individualized, it is hard to find two cases
that are exactly the same in all design styles.
On rare occasions the cases had naive folk art style. Mr. Hall must have
been an outdoorsman because these all depict outdoor scenes of sailing, fishing or hunting as well as those of game birds or dogs. These
were also often paired with flowering vine designs as well as what
would be termed patriotic symbols of a shield with the stars and stripes. It
seems that the cases that had this extra decoration are also found with case plating in a better
condition; either the plating process was more carefully, done or the locks had been
better cared for over the years than those without the art decoration.
These first three photos show typical machine-milled guilloche designs. The third photo
shows a common edge design with the fourth photo having the design around
the porthole bezel as well as a more unusual edge decoration.
All of the porthole bezels had a similar but slightly varying daisy petal design.
In this example one sees the depiction of flowering berry vines. Here too
this design varies slightly but remains largely the same.
This lock has a folk-art depiction of a twin mast sailboat and on the other
side the berry vine design.
This example has the berry vine combined with what appear to be a group of
roses in the center. On the other side is a profile of a dog's head within a
Here one side has the depiction of a "stars and stripes" shield. The
other side has an interesting collage of berry vines, sailboat and what may
either be a bridge or board walk overlooking the sailboat.
This case has a bird on one side, on the other a shield (less the stars)
with a slightly different vine design substituting berries for fronds, but
still keeping the five petal flowers.
Here we have a hunting dog.
Movement plate decoration:
The concentric circular damascene was the earliest movement plate design.
The second photo, shows one of the more common patterns, a two concentric
circle diamond pattern; this one shown on a large format design.
These photos show a couple of less common patterns. The second photo is
possibly unique, where each movement is divided into four sectors, each with
its own unique pattern. The other interesting feature of this lock is the
door lock is an older version deadbolt type lock requiring a two lever key
as was used on the earlier lock versions before a simple handcuff key was
used with a spring loaded latch bolt. The movement and case number stamped
on the back are 6091 fairly late in the production run.
These two photos show single movement models with two fairly common
movement plate designs; the second with the two concentric diamond circle
Small case size for single movement time lock.
Medium case size for dual movement time lock.
Large case size which can contain either one or two movements. The larger
case size was unnecessary; it was a marketing tool and was used where the
style within the safe door demanded a larger time lock to look appropriate
to the design. "Upsizing" a time lock for aesthetic reasons was common
practice in the industry; this also included increasing the number of
movements within a lock even though the reliability of the lock did not grow
much beyond two movements.
For all case sizes where there was an acid-etched glass logo, the name
"Consolidated" appeared in a semi-circular pattern above the words "Time
Lock Co." in block lettering with the words "Cincinnati, O." appearing below
on the third line in a stylized, backward-leaning script. The etching was
applied on the exterior side of the glass, as were S&G models that had a
logo unlike Yale's logo on their model
1 which was on the interior side.
Unlike most other makers, Hall's / Consolidated did not make their cases to be
individually matched to the movements at the time of manufacture. The proof
of this is the fact that the case numbering found on the door never matches
the serial number on the movement dial. The first photo shows a serial
number 591 on the case door with the serial number on the movement of 3254.
After the movement was slated for a particular case the serial number of
that movement was stamped in a small font onto the rear of the case, second
photo. If one looks closely at the case number it is obvious that the
numbers were stamped with individual number dies by hand as they do not
perfectly line up.
In the time locks of Sargent and Greenleaf and Yale there were numerous
components that were not integral to the movements themselves; drop bolts,
snubber bars and bolt dogging devices to name a few. These all had to work
in conjunction within the case to which they were mounted as well as the
movement. Most if not all of those components had matching serial numbers to
the case. In their early time locks, those that used integral movement
plates which contained a pair of movements the movement serial numbers
either matched or closely matched the case numbers for the early runs of
those models. As time went on, the numbers began to diverge.
Prior to the introduction of modular movements in 1902, the movements of the
Hall / Consolidated time locks contained all of the necessary components for
the time lock and did not depend on any external parts connected to the
case; so there was no need for the case to be closely matched to the
movement to ensure functional integrity.
Close up of typical platform escapement mounted horizontally on top of the
movement in the manner of a carriage clock style, a type of clock popular at
the time. However the reason for this configuration was not for style but to
allow the movement to have a narrower vertical profile. One of the selling
points The Hall's / Consolidated company had was the fact that their locks
were generally smaller and better suited for smaller safe doors with limited
The first photo shows the rear of a typical single movement. Next the same
movement with the front plate removed revealing the wheel works within. The
blued lever work is what acts upon the combination lock's fence which is
located directly below.
The Hall Infallible Lockout Protection™
The Hall Infallible Lockout Protection™
system is illustrated. The blue armature shown coming from the lower right
hand corner of the time lock case is part of that system. The first photo shows where the dual fences are
located in the combination lock. The fence marked A. located at
the 12 o'clock position in relation to the tumblers and is for the regular combination known to the safe's
owner. The fence marked B. located at the 9 o'clock positionis the secondary fence using the "secret combination" that is known to
the Consolidated company and is used only in the event that there is a failure
of the time lock to bypass the time lock. In that event the Consolidated Company
telegraphs the safe owner the bypass combination and it is first dialed in and
the time lock is disabled through the activation of that fence. Next the normal
combination must be dial in to ultimately open the safe.
In any event the time lock cannot be running for this method to work. It
prevents one from an unauthorized opening of the safe even if they were to
get the secondary combination while the time lock was functioning and on
guard. Of course if the lock merely ran down to zero as would be the case
under normal circumstances, the secondary combination becomes unnecessary.
The second photo shows a close up of the permutation bypass fence. Here one can see the
row of five screw studs as well as another row of empty, threaded holes. If
someone was familiar with the construction of the Hall Premier lock equipped
with the Infallible system it would be possible to deduce the secret combination
via a subtractive formula derived from the regular combination. In this example,
in order to make the lock manipulation quick and easy, the combination is 60,
60, 60, 60, 60. The secret combination is 40, 40, 40, 40, 40. So knowing this
one could use the subtraction of 20 from the regular combination to deduce the
secret one. This fence, as illustrated in Flint's patent, allows one to move the
five studs so as to add a lot more guess work to that formulaic deduction since
it is no longer a simple subtraction of a single factor from the regular
combination. The movement of a stud changes the combination by 2 digits.
Remember, that if someone is trying to bypass an intact, running, time lock,
the automatic reset system, which is also a part of Flint's patent, puts the
time lock back on guard between five to ten seconds after the bypass
combination is dialed in, preventing one from entering the normal
combination in time to bypass a working time lock. This fence makes it nearly impossible to do so in time unless one
knows the configuration of the studs as well as the subtractive formula. As
shipped from the factory all the five studs are left in-line. Any qualified
service tech can change these locations so the secret combination is altered and
is thus only known to the safe's owner, completely eliminating the possibility
of collusion between an employee of the Consolidated Company and one who knows
the regular safe combination. Along with the automatic reset found within
the Infallible System the time lock was extremely reliable and secure even
with only a single time lock movement. The Infallible system was so reliable
and effective that it became the basis for a large segment of Hall's time locks. The cost of
time lock movements was the single largest cost component of a time lock. So
having a reliable time lock that could utilize only one movement and still be
reliable gave the Hall / Consolidated Company a cost advantage over other makers
that used two movements; and they all did. Of course these single movement time
locks could only be used with the Infallible system and this was only found
within the Hall line of combination locks. However, Hall was the dominant maker
of combination locks. But as time went by the redundancy provided
by two or more movements did supplant the single movement Infallible system.
One reason was the fact that these had to be used with the Hall line of
combination locks, whereas later designs generally worked on the safe's bolt
work, allowing those to operate across all lines of safe configurations. Another
was the cost of movements declined, the advent of modular
designs and the fact that redundant movements were easy to understand in the
context of security. See video below for a demonstration of the Infallible
Lockout Protection System™.
Video demo of the
Infallible Lockout Protection System™.
Typical lock configurations:
The first lock is a single movement time lock mounted to a Hall's Premier five
tumbler, size #2. The second a twin movement mounted to Hall's largest
single dial five tumbler size #5
This photo shows the front plate removed from the Hall Premier size#5
showing the beautiful casting and damascening inside.
Specialty time lock products: the Dalton Dual Guard, Dalton Triple Guard,
Triple Concussion and Triple movement combo (2+1) models
The patent issued to
Milton Dalton, 221,789 on November 18, 1879 at 28 pages, is to this author's
knowledge, the longest in terms of pages and drawings (14 drawing sheets, 14
explanatory pages in all). On the same day Dalton was also issued patent
221,790 for his Permutation Lock which appeared along with the Dual Guard in
Consolidated's tour d' force time lock, the Triple Guard.
The Consolidated Dalton Dual guard.
Interior view of the Dalton Dual Guard, note the small permutation
(combination) lock as represented by the wheel to the right of the center
The Dual Guard was first produced in 1884 and was a successful product being
sold for use with combination locks made by MacNeal & Urban as well as by Hall
Safe & Lock. The Dual Guard used an unusually expensive E. Howard movement and,
at $55 wholesale ($1400 in 2017, and retailed for about ten times that amount or
$14,000 today), and exceeded that of the Yale Double Pin Dial. The Dual Guard
was equipped with its own internal combination lock, allowing the Infallible
mechanism to be opened with from one to four numbers by shifting the pin visible
below the time lock dial. Since the Dual Guard was intended for use with locks
other than Hall's Premier, it used a gear on the case back to connect its
miniature combination lock to the main combination lock rather than the armature
found on Hall's Premier. Two styles of the Dalton Dual Guard were made: one that
engaged the bolt with a plain hinged armature and a second that used the wound
spring mechanism seen here on the outside of the time lock case. (2)
This video is a description of the Dalton Dual Guard time and combination
lock introduced by the Consolidated Time Lock Co. in 1885. It was the most complex and
expensive stand-alone time lock until it's incorporation into the Dalton Triple
Guard in 1888. While this lock is based on the patent awarded to Milton
Dalton, the design described in the patent is quite different from the
production model to the point that it was only marginally helpful in
ascertaining the functionality of the lock. Fewer than 500 of the Dual Guard
were made with less than ten known to survive.
A circular from the Consolidated company of 1884, below,
describes the incredible features of this lock. After reading it, one
wonders if it can also serve up breakfast!
It can unlock when the specified hour
arrives without the setting of any combination; or if desired setting the
combination at that hour may be required. It permits one, or may require two
persons to set up the combinations and unlock after the timer has released
its control. It is wound until a stop is felt; this sets it exactly right
even in the dark; over winding is impossible. It will permit unlocking on
Sundays or holidays at any selected hour, and for two hours after, and then
will resume its guard automatically; or it can prevent any unlocking on
these days. It can assume its control immediately after closing, and prevent
unlocking; or it can automatically assume this control at any desired hour
after winding. No other lock is required on the door, as it performs all the
functions of both a timer and combination lock. The Dual Time Lock can be
used as a time attachment if desired, controlling any combination lock. The
Dual Time Lock can be applied in such a manner as an attachment to a
combination lock, as to prevent unlocking by the cashier and his assistants
in charge of the regular combination, until the specified hour; but by means
of a second combination, secretly in possession of the proprietor, unlocking
at any time may be effected
in case of a conflagration or other great emergency. With this lock you may
instantly reduce its power (by moving a button) from four combinations to
three, two or one, or may cut off
all combinations, making the lock
only a slide bolt. Should the time movement stop, break or from any cause
act improperly, the banker is not permanently locked out, but has a means of
access by the combination mechanism, which can be used after the
predetermined hour. It can be arranged that in a case like this the
cooperation of two, three or four persons is necessary in order to unlock.
Of course this combination mechanism is not effective
except when the timer is off
guard, or in case of a lock-out.
Should the combination mechanism break, or by any means become inoperative,
the banker is not permanently locked out, but has a means of access by the
timer mechanism, which will automatically unlock from four to ten hours
(according to its setting) after the predetermined hour, even though the
combination parts have been rendered useless and without power to act. But
aside from this protection, premature stoppage does not unlock, for the
combination numbers must first be set up; but when the banker sets his lock
for opening, he does not need or desire the knowledge of the combination
numbers, and it remains a secret in the maker’s hands or with a neighboring
banker. The banker can, if he desires, be saved the trouble of setting up
his combination numbers to unlock. This lock can be set to do its own
unlocking at the specified hour. Should the timer stop when set for
automatic unlocking, entrance can be had after the specified hour, but only
by setting up the combination numbers. It can be set so as to permit
unlocking on Sundays or holidays at any selected hour, and for two hours
afterward; after this period the timer resumes its control without any
assistance from the banker, and prevents unlocking until the selected hour
the next day. So that if the banker finds that there is no occasion to
unlock during these two hours, he is not obliged to go to the bank to reset
the timer, for he knows that it has already been set to automatically resume
As if the Dual Guard was not complex enough below is described the Triple
Guard incorporating both the Dual Guard time lock and an additional permutation lock. It was the most complex,
expensive and had the largest footprint of any time ever made. At the time
it sold for $750.00, worth over $15,000.00 today.
Interior view of the Triple Guard lock, incorporating both the Dual Guard
time and permutation lock, already the most complex time lock made, as well
as a separate permutation lock.
Two close up views of the additional permutation lock within the Triple
Dalton Triple Concussion Timer
Dalton Triple Concussion Timer, c. 1887
The purpose of the concussion unit, mechanism below dual time lock
movements, was to offer a way to override the time
lock in case of its complete failure.
Given the reliability in the redundancy of two movements this would only
occur in the event of severe forced entry or explosion.
It allows for an override of the time
lock using a ratchet to advance a wheel that will allow the
timers to be overridden and the safe to be opened with the
correct combination. The key to this system is the very high
gear ratios as represented through the use of multiple worm
gears resulting in the input wheel needing to be rotated thousands of turns to reach a
single rotation of the output wheel. It takes a very long time
to effectively accomplish this. Therefore it is unlikely that any unauthorized
personnel could use the override before being discovered.
It is rare to find an override system with a lock that has the redundancy
offered by two movements. Holmes is another company that employed an override
with two movements. The Hollar Company
used the opposite philosophy which was to keep
a time lock wound indefinitely past the time it would normally be set to go
off guard in case the owner would want to keep the safe closed, say in the
case of civil disturbance.
This video is a demonstration of the Consolidated company's Milton Dalton
time lock model Concussion Triple equipped with a special override
mechanism. Concussion timers were a very small genre of time locks with few
examples extant. It shows how the override mechanism works and the key to
this design is the multiple, very high ratio gearing that requires the
person using the override to turn the input gear many thousands of turns to
wind the output dial to the point where it overrides the time lock. In this
example there is an eighty ratchet toothed wheel meshing with an eighty
toothed wheel resulting in a 6400 output times a 2.66 x 6 wheel for a total
of 102,144 clicks to turn the output wheel one revolution. Assuming one
second per click this would take 28.37 hours, more than the number of hours
on the concussion dial. Furthermore there is an adjustment to the input
lever to make it less efficient. Adjusting the lever to its most restrictive would cause the time to lengthen
by four equaling nearly four days. Assuming one could click the ratchet four
times a second for a full 24 hours, one might be able to disable the lock in
little over one day. Trying to click the lock faster will not make it open
Consolidated's last model using integrated movements
This three movement model, what I call a Triple Movement
Combo (2+1), c. 1892 was Consolidated's effort to compete with S&G and Yale
as the industry began to move toward three movement designs with the
introduction in 1889 of S&G's Model A and in 1892 Yale's Model Triple L. It
looks like and was a sort of cobbled-together effort. Consolidated had a
disadvantage in their design with regards to the expansion of the number of
movements. The next section explains why this was so.
Post 1901 models, the introduction of modular movements
Consolidated was late to the development of the
independent, modular movement design. This is a rare example of their first
attempt; an experimental transitional time lock produced for about a year, c.
1902. Apparently the company continued their dial serial numbering from their
prior carriage clock movements to this new movement design; the numbers are 7556
and 7557, the highest numbers known before the change to the new dial format.
Beginning in 1887 Yale
introduced the first production lock with the feature of semi-interchangeable,
modular time locks. Yale used Waltham Watch Co., Waltham, MA, movements in their Type
B through EE series of locks. In 1888 Sargent &
Greenleaf introduced their concept of modular time lock design with the
introduction of individually removable time lock movements of their own
manufacture in their model Triple A. Although these movements were not yet truly interchangeable, that would come
by 1895. Up to this time any time lock that had more than one movement had
these incorporated into one movement plate or were made as matched pairs
requiring the change out of both movements, or repair on the spot by an
experienced technician; a more expensive proposition. Modularity allowed a
simple swap out requiring far less training. This example was Consolidated's first attempt at this problem.
The fact that E. Howard exited the time lock business in 1902 when they were
acquired by the Keystone Watch case Company may have also played a role in the
decision to explore a new design. Prior to this all of their twin movement time locks were combined as matched sets
and not interchangeable. To prove the point, both movement dials always had the
same serial number marked on both dials. One can see in this example that they abandoned the
horizontally mounted 'carriage clock' style platform escapement made by E. Howard for the more a
conventional configuration where they are positioned on the same plane as the
rest of the movement. However, the balance wheel and escapement cocks are
mounted directly to the top of the front plate and are not removable as a
modular platform unit as they were in Yale's design. This was actually a step
backward as far as servicing was concerned. In their prior carriage clock
design the top plate could be removed as a unit similar to a conventional
platform design containing the entire escapement; the balance wheel, lever
and escape wheel.
The movements are not signed, Mr. John Erroll thought
they were probably made by Seth Thomas. That company took over most of the
time lock movement business after the exit of Howard. One can see that
Consolidated still clung to the same dial and lever actuator design that
connected to the newly introduced snubber bar. In this example, operating an
automatic bolt motor.
One might wonder why Consolidated did not
simply take their existing single movement design and gang those together.
The reason is that Consolidated chose to make their time locks work upon the
fence of the combination lock and not on the external bolt work as had most
other makers. This meant that they had all of the parts necessary within
either a single or dual movement to perform this function. Locks that
operated on the bolt work had the dogging and release functions controlled
by a mechanism known as a snubber bar and bolt dog that were used by S&G and
Yale. This mechanism was independent from the movements and was mounted to
the case and was easily adapted for multiple, independent movements. One can
see that in this example Consolidated also adopted a similar design
represented by the sliding bar that interacted with the curved dial lever.
It connected to an automatic bolt motor, but later a base adaptor would
allow for manual bolt work operation.
Harry Dalton's patent of November 22, 1904 marked a
significant innovation in time lock movements. While he was not the first to
use pocket watch movements within a time lock; that distinction belongs to
Yale with the introduction of their Type B model in 1888. However that design
incorporated three watch movements within one unit, each acting in concert
to operate the lock. Yale's time lock was the first to introduce modularity in a
production run time lock. Dalton's innovation as reflected in this patent
was to take that a step further and make each pocket watch movement a
self-contained modular time lock movement. He claims several advantages. The
first being that this design can use any common watch movement allowing
freedom from being bound to one maker. This was fresh in the minds of the
time industry as E. Howard had recently exited the time lock business in
1902 leaving many firms to
search for alternatives. Second a pocket watch, even a common class variety
will generally have a finer escapement than that found on a special-purpose
time lock movement, although how useful this is in the application of a time
lock being reset each day or over the weekend is questionable. Third, he claims that by using 'off the shelf' watch
movements he can produce movements at less cost than would be from a special
purpose made time lock.
This example is one of the first made about 1904 with a new
modular movement design utilizing "off the shelf" pocket watch movement by
the Elgin National Watch Co. with white dials. The first few in production
had watch movements that displayed the original Elgin logo. Shortly
afterward a plate with the consolidated logo was screwed on top of the location of Elgin's name. The movement numbers in this example
are 22 and 23 and at this point the company continued their serial numbering
on the dials. By this time Consolidated abandoned the folk art case designs.
Here is a simple diamond cross-hatch and squares for the case sides and
door. The snubber bar had been reconfigured to accommodate the new movement
design and like the prior example was designed to operate an automatic bolt
This example has black dials and occurred with their change
of watch movement suppliers from Elgin Watch
Co. to the South Bend Watch Co. around 1905; the dials refer to Dalton's
patent of November 22, 1904, (see illustration above). It is interesting
that their first production run using the Elgin/white dial arrangement did
not note the patent information, but had PATENT APPL'D. FOR on the dial. This model also shows Consolidated's answer
for their locks to operate upon manual bolt work. The lock was attached to a
separate base with the bolt dogging device. Other than a small change in the
snubber bar to allow it to attach to the dogging device, the time lock
remains unchanged from its automatic bolt motor configuration.
These two photos show the separate base to contain the
manual bolt dogging mechanism. An interesting innovation is the fact that
the bolt could be blocked from either side, allowing the lock to be either a
right or left handed installation, something that other makers did not have
and was not generally available until well after WWII. However one can see
from this design how Consolidated, even at this point in time, never fully
embraced the idea of their time locks acting directly to block the bolt work
vs. acting upon the combination lock, even though the former was almost
universally the recognized method. They never made a lock that was dedicated
to this concept and this probably had to do with the fact that Hall was the
premier maker of bank locks and it was a natural fit that their time locks
would act in concert with their bank locks. What was recognized by their
competitors was that all safes and vaults had bolt work and making time
locks to operate on those mechanisms made them far more universally
Consolidated did, however, pioneer the practical use of
standard pocket watches within a modular movement design to replace
purpose-built movements in time locks. Watch movements were later adopted
by Victor Safe Co's.
Banker's Dustproof time lock division after their acquisition
of the Consolidated Time Lock division in 1906
from the Hall Safe & Lock Co. (According to John Erroll in his book this is
not a certainty and it is not proven that Banker's acquired Consolidated).
(4)And the short-lived
Ohio Time Lock Co.,
used them (1914-1916); both companies were acquired respectively in 1915 and 1916 by
then became the only user, but on a large scale, of pocket watch
movements exclusively in all their models
until they exited the business in 2001.
Twilight of the Hall Safe Company
There is no record of any time locks produced by the Hall's or Consolidated
entities after the sale of Consolidated Time Lock Co. to Victor Safe Co. But
here was one model made briefly in 1927, the same year the Hall Safe Co.
went out bankrupt.
The logo on the door is Hall's Safe Co.
but it is not the same
company as Hall's Safe & Lock Co. The latter was started in 1867 by Joseph
Hall and the time lock business, Consolidated Time Lock Co. was created as a
separate entity in 1880 to protect his safe and lock business from the
rampant litigation that surrounded the time lock industry at the time.
Consolidated may have been acquired by Victor Safe Co. in 1906, but this is
It is unclear if this lock was made under the Consolidated firm. The name
does not appear anywhere on the movement dials as it did on all prior
examples but the case has the Hall Safe Co. name and a reference to Milton Dalton, an important employee of the Consolidated
firm is seen on the dials as "DALTON PAT. PEND'G JANY 1921". It is
unknown if this lock was originated by Hall or if the company was a
subcontractor for the inventors W.T. Benham whose patent is illustrated
above. That patent is dated June 24, 1927 and it is unclear what Dalton's
earlier patent of January 1921 has to do with this design. The author has
been unable to locate the Dalton patent for verification. Time lock production ceased after the bankruptcy
of the Hall Company in 1927.
(1) American Genius Nineteenth
Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, David & John Erroll, pp. 166-168.
(2) American Genius Nineteenth
Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, David Erroll & John Erroll, pp
The Lure of the Lock, John M. Mossman Collection, pp
(4) American Genius Nineteenth
Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, David & John Erroll, pp. 314-317.