A display of locks at the John M. Mossman Collection. Photo credit: Sam Meyer
Where in Manhattan would one find a single room filled with 350 different locks in varying shapes and sizes? Last week, Untapped Cities stumbled upon this gem during an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen. Donated by John M. Mossman, the collection sits above the library in the building, showcasing locks that date from 4000 BC to the 20th century, including “A Very Complicated Lock”.
Undisturbed in their glass cases, the preservation of these rare locks–from Chinese padlocks to Roman keys, skeleton keys and many more–reflect the unspoken millions in money and securities that have been protected over the last hundreds and thousands of years. Who knows what secrets and mysteries lay within these banks, vaults and treasure chests? The most ancient artifact in the collection is the Egyptian Lock, or “dabbeh”, which is still used today within the older streets of Cairo. To compliment the collection, a short treatise on locks called The Lure of the Lock was published in 1928. Museum visitors are able to view the book, which accurately catalogues and explains every lock in the collection.
An American time lock. Source: The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen.
Even if you aren’t a lock fanatic, the elusive charm and mystery of the collection makes it a worthwhile trip. Admission is $10.
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