|Swiss-made Secret Combination Lock|
From the outside, the lock looks like a straight one-key lock with a decorative circular brass plate with 4 depressions. But there is more to this lock than meets the eye. To open the lock, the banker first inserts the bank key and turns clockwise. This enables the client to insert his client key into the one, only and same keyhole. He turns it clockwise and the 4 depressions open, revealing little shafts. The banker then gives him a 22-letter alphabetical bank dial which the client inserts in each of the 4 holes successively, turning each to a letter of his 4-letter secret code. Finally, the client turns his client key some more and the door opens. There was only one alphabetical bank dial for the entire safe deposit vault.
The lock's mechanism is unique and totally different from that of the Combination lock we found in the same vault. This was the rarest lock in the vault, protecting only a few of the most antique safe deposit boxes. We have been able to save only a handful of such doors with working locks and keys. It is quite tricky to disassemble and reassemble and we counted more than 50 moving parts.
This lock was patented by Bauer of Switzerland in 1922. It shows great Swiss craftmanship with most parts made and numbered by hand.
The lock has 7 levers and two bolts. The first bolt uses the top 3 levers moves the brass disc that uncovers the shafts where the alphabetical dials is inserted. The second bolt uses the 4 bottom levers and moves the locking bolt once the proper combination is set.
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