Can you help identify this
Unusual Old Lock

Front of old iron lock with decorative piercings
Image is roughly full size.
This lock was found in the state of Oklahoma, USA but could have come from anywhere.

Photos courtesy of Mike Munsil. Please email us if you can identify this lock.

The lock is made of forged iron decorated by piercing and filing. The piercings seem to be representitive of something but it is not clear exactly what they represent.

The mechanism and style hint that this may be an 18th Century lock or older possibly of American origin.

The hasp on this lock penetrated the front of the lock. This would indicate a hasp that hinged over the front of the lock OR penetrated from the back. However, there is no apparent wear on the front surface of the lock to indicate that a hasp closed against the front surface.
Back of old iron lock with decorative piercings The lock is 11 cm by 11 cm (4 1/3" by 4 1/3") exactly. The face is slightly convex and is 2mm (+ 1/16") thick. The lock mechanism is 12 mm (1/2") deep. It is held together by rivets. The fastener holes on the front vary slightly in size and are slightly rectangular (that is, as though slightly skewed rectangular objects had been forced through roundish holes). Corrosion and slightly concave indentations around the fastener holes indicate that a fastener with a round head about 6 mm to 8 mm diameter was used in each hole. The shaft diameter of the fastener would have been around 4 mm (5/32") at the head.

March 4, 2003
Dear Mike,

The lock looks like an Hispanic chest lock, fairly typical in size. It is a mortise lock. It is similar to 19th century Mexican locks, except the openwork is a little strange. Most Mexican locks had a vee shaped flat spring with one portion curved. A slight step in the bottom of the curve fit into a small notch at the top of the the locked position. But some of them had the spring-load on the bolt itself, as pictured. The drill pin keeper is typical. The edge-filing and incising are typical.

I would guess its provenance to be Mexico or Central America.

Simmons & Turley, Southwestern Colonial Ironwork, pp 151-156. Espinosa, Hierros Coloniales en Zacatecas, Plates XIII through XXVII. Grupo Financiero Bancomer, The Art of Ironworks in Mexico, pp 105-112. Katz, Hispanic Furniture, pp 78-97. Sonn, Early American Wrought Iron, Plates 108; 111. Sonn drew Hispanic work which he admired, but could not identify it as Hispanic.

Frank Turley
Turley Forge Blacksmithing School
919-A Chicoma Vista
Santa Fe, NM 87507

Copyright © 2003 Jock Dempsey,

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