Mosler Safe and Lock Co., Hamilton, Kentucky, Model 1 and Model 2

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The Mosler Safe Company was a manufacturer of security equipment, most notably safes and bank vaults, beginning in 1874 and ending with its bankruptcy in 2001.

Founded in Cincinnati by Gustave Mosler and Fred Bahmann as the Mosler, Bahmann & Company in 1867. In 1874 after Gustave's death, the Mosler family had a falling out with Mr. Bahmann, leaving Mosler, Bahmann & Company to start the Mosler Safe & Lock Company. Both companies remained in Cincinnati until the 1890s. When Mosler Safe & Lock Co. outgrew its original factory it relocated to Hamilton in 1891, where it remained until its 2001 bankruptcy. Mosler, Bahmann & Company remained in business until around 1898. Its safes and vaults were renowned for their strength and precision manufacture: several Mosler vaults installed in Hiroshima's Mitsui Bank building prior to WWII survived the nuclear attack, and the company subsequently produced doors for missile silos and even the vault formerly used to display and store the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence. One example, installed at the Atomic Energy Commission's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, weighed approximately 138 tons including the frame. Despite the weight ("the largest and heaviest hinged shielding doors in the world"), each 58-ton blade could be opened and closed manually by one person.

Mosler was controlled by its founding family until 1967, when they sold it to American Standard Companies. American Standard then sold the division to a group of Mosler managers and outside investors in 1986. After 134 years in business, Mosler declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2001, citing continuing debt problems, and ceased operations shortly thereafter. Diebold subsequently announced programs to support former Mosler customers and ended up buying much of the former company in bankruptcy court a few months later.

The Mosler name carries on to this day in Canada as Chubb-Mosler and Taylor Safes Ltd., the outcome of a 1950s merger of Mosler's Canadian operations with those of Chubb Security, followed by the acquisition of Taylor Safes of Canada in the following decade.

                Mosler 2mvt single dial (5).JPG (2133924 bytes)

                Mosler 2mvt single dial (3).JPG (757778 bytes) A

                Mosler calendar.JPG (2210687 bytes)

                Mosler calendar (2).JPG (2198856 bytes)B

Mosler calendar (3).JPG (2170334 bytes)  Mosler calendar (1).JPG (2306883 bytes)

A. Model 1. This lock represents the first type put out by Mosler Safe and Lock in 1887. That same year Mosler had bought out the patent rights to Beard & Brother's time lock design and left it virtually unchanged. It contains two 48 hour E. Howard movements controlled by a central dial. They wholesaled at $78.00 each to Mosler from E. Howard. Yale used a design similar to this where two movements are controlled by one dial. Of the 400 of this first type of time lock made by Mosler only 5 are known. 4 5/8"h x 6"w x 2 5/8"d. Movement #699, case #87. file 105

B. Model 2. This lock was introduced in 1891. It featured Phinneas King's calendar mechanism first patented in 1878, improved and again patented in 1891 and appearing in this model for the first time. In additional to the conventional ability to go on or off guard daily, his model was also able to lock and unlock during the course of the day, much like the Holms Electric. But unlike the Holms, it also had the calendar function. The only other time like I know of that combined all three functions was the Edward Stewart time lock. The calendar mechanism is based around the seven day dial allowing the lock to be adjusted to pass over its daily open periods for as long as the movements had reserve power, allowing for Sundays, bank holidays or other planned closures. At $88.50 wholesale, this lock was possibly the most expensive two movement time lock produced. (1) The Sargent and Greenleaf Model 2 and Yale Model 1 both wholesaled for around $50.00 in the 1880's. The retail price of the locks were generally ten times the wholesale price. To put this in perspective, $500 in 1880 is worth $10,000 today, (2015). Making the time lock business an extremely profitable one. This resulted in much patent litigation and eventually market collusion amongst the largest players, Sargent and Yale. This example had a bronze door insert because it was probably used in a coin safe where a glass insert would likely be broken and included the top porthole windows to monitor the movements. This is the only lock configuration I know of that had the bolt release from the top of the case. The style indicates that it was used with automatic bolt motors. According to Mr. Erroll's book there were 200 of these made, with the one illustrated as the only known example. This makes two. One other was recently found, #847 but in poor condition. However if the locks were sequentially numbered, the one in Erroll's book is 363 with this one at 808; there had to be more. 4 5/8"h x 6"w x 2 5/8"d. Movement #808, case #12. file 138

This company is not to be confused with the Mosler Safe Company which was the result of a series of consolidations of earlier companies including this one, Mosler Bahmann and Banker's Dustproof Time Lock Co. That company emerged in 1917.

(1) American Genius Nineteenth Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, David Erroll & John Erroll, pg 260.

Below are photos of a Mosler Calendar model from the John H. Mossman collection at the General Society of Tradesmen and Tradesman museum, New York, NY.


The Mosler Safe Company, Hamilton, as seen through the window of a Pullman dining car on the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railway line in 1894.

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