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The first things a collector wants to know about his latest treasure are "who made it, when and where? Then the hunt begins. The best clues are markings on the lock itself. If there is a company logo or monogram, there is almost always an answer. If it has a distinctive shape, such as the six lever or round brass push key, that's a good place to start looking. There are fads and styles in the manufacture of locks as with any other commodity, and these can tell you much about possible starting and ending dates.

As you become more interested in who, when and where, there are many resources available, including collector newsletters, company histories, trademarks, patents, books, periodicals, catalogs. See the listing of references elsewhere on this site.

Yale cast brass spring padlocks.
In 1870, Yale had repeated inquiries from customers for a flat key padlock and for several years tried to meet these demands. However, Yale had other priorities which prevented the execution of this intention. In 1871, Yale Lock Co. arranged to have these locks constructed by a outside contractor. The result was a rare lock rigid in construction and was recieved confidently by the trade. They are stamped on the shackle; "Made for Yale Lock Man'fg Co. B&D". The lock on the left sold for $1.60 in 1872. These two locks showed up from different sources at the WCLCA show in 2002.

Box Lock with Key, English, Late 17th Century, Brass and Steel, 4" high x 7" wide.