From the Blog
Antique Locks – Great Relics Finds For Building Coin Collections
Over my 39 years of metal detecting to build coin collections, locks have been one of my top relic categories for trading or for selling. In this article I want to tell you about five of my favorite locks. Four of these locks are railroad locks and could tell some wonderful stories about the events and happenings that shaped west Florida in the late 1800's and the early 1900's.
My best lock was a beautiful 1888 Orange Belt Railroad lock that was heart shaped and measured about 3 inches wide by 4 inches tall. This beauty was near a foot deep and in very fine condition. I actually dug the key that fit this lock, at a distance of 30 feet away. This lock was made by Slaymaker Locks out of Sharon, PA. I sold it for $ 350.00 and probably could have gotten six or seven hundred for it.
Another great metal detector find is an 1896 Eagle Lock used by the Railroads as a switch lock (found in the same vicinity as the previous lock). It was used by the Atlantic Coast Line which followed the Orange Belt in Central / west coast Florida in about 1902. This is a 5-Lever lock and is very strong. The maker of this lock was the Eagle Lock Company of Terryville, CT., The largest lock maker in America at that time.
The third lock is incredible. It is a Laclede 6-Lever lock which opens by inserting the key in the bottom. No turning of the key is necessary to unlock it as the tumbler system opens when the proper key is inserted. This was found in the same area as the other railroad locks but is not marked as a railroad lock. It is a very strong, high-tech lock of the early 1900's and was popular with railroad and agricultural firms.
The fourth lock is also a ACL Railroad Lock and is worth three or four hundred dollars. It is another Slaymaker Lock from Lancaster and is a turn of the century model. The key does work with the lock but it is a replacement key from that time period, not the original. I found it inserted in the lock and pour the dirt out led to a smooth opening.
The fifth lock is non-descript, in that I can not find any imprints or legends on it. However it is a nice brass lock that makes for a great display item. It is in very fine condition and the workmanship is extraordinary.
I estimate the value of the four locks to be about $ 1000.00 but they are not for sale, as I save them to my father-in-law who is a lock collector. I have dug more than 100 locks from all over the world, and sold or traded many for several thousand dollars worth of collector coins. There are great books on antique locks and a wealth of information on locks that can be obtained from a Google search on the internet. Do not get locked out of the fun in finding and selling these great relics. Here's to "diggin it"! Larry