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The Earliest Lock Companies
The earliest lock companies were the electric companies. In their manufacturing of magneto switches it was they who decided how to secure them. Better security was ultimately provided by the major lock manufacturers of the day; Yale, Sargent, Russwin, Corbin, and Eagle sold locks to the electric companies for inclusion in their switches. But the locks were not cheap; the choices for security in those early days were pin-tumbler locks by the lock manufactuers, the pseudo locks by the electric companies, or nothing. And that's how it remained until about 1914.

The Early Innovators
King Lock Company of Chicago introduced the wafer lock to the automobile industry. Their lock used a double-sided key and provided 24 key changes. The lock was more secure than the pseudo locks of the electric companies and less expensive than the pin-tumbler locks from the lock companies.

Briggs & Stratton improved on the King lock, producing first, a double-sided wafer lock which used discrete depths and spaces, and then a wafer lock which used a single-sided key. This type of lock became the a standard for the industry: moderately secure and inexpensive to manufacture.

Lock Companies - Page 3

Manufacturers of Early Locks and Switches for Antique Automobiles

Caskey - Dupree Culver Stearns Crown Lock
Samuel F. Dupree, the former head of the Ford Department at Westinghouse and his partner Fred Caskey, an attorney, formed the Caskey -Dupree Company in Marietta, Ohio in 1916 to manufacture automobile locks. One of their first products was the Thiefoil accessory lock for the Model T Ford. The Thiefoil was a combination lock which had been invented several years earlier in Dayton, Ohio.

For a while they produced locking switches which used locks and keys from King Lock Company. Caskey- Dupree was one of the five companies which produced original locking switches for the electric start Model T Fords beginning in 1919.

About 1920 the company appears to have been bought out and was relocated to Coldwater, Michigan where it continued making ignition switches, expanding to those used by Dodge Brothers automobiles in the mid 1920s. During this era the president of the company was Harry A. Douglas, who was associated with at least two other companies in the same area. It is probable that the Caskey - Dupree plant was absorbed by one of these other companies.
Culver Stearns' primary products were electrical connectors and sockets. While they did make a few ignition switches, their involvement with automobile locks and keys was minimal. This company is included here only because they appear to have been the fifth company chosen by Ford to produce ignition switches and keys for the 1919 Model T Fords (and therefore the manufacturer of the mysterious "V" key). The jury is still out on this determination. Crown Lock Company supplied locks for Model A Fords beginning in late 1929 through 1931. The driving force for the company was Henry G. Voight. Voight had worked for the Sargent Lock Company since 1915 after having spent several years at the Russell & Erwin (Russwin) Lock Company and was a respected developer of new products. Unfortunately the timing of this venture was wrong and Crown Lock succumbed to the great depression. Voight returned to Sargent in 1930.
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